What steps can you take if you are having problems with alcohol and other drugs?
Most people will immediately think of the 12 steps when asked such a question, but I do not believe that those offer an immediate answer to the problem of addiction. Maybe they work for some people when they are still in a drunken stupor, but for me, I needed more help than what could provide me with at the time.
My first step was to ask for help, and that led to inpatient rehab.
Because that worked for me and I am now over a decade clean and sober, I would recommend the same for other people:
Your first step is to ask for help, and to ask for help in getting professional treatment services.
This is a bold step for some people to take because the idea that they are completely out of control and that they can no longer maintain a healthy life is a damaging blow to the ego. It takes courage to admit that you need substance abuse help. It is not an easy thing to fess up to.
So this is an act of surrender and it is similar to the first step in AA but I would recommend that when you do this, you ask for help, and that you focus on getting help from an inpatient rehab of some sort. That is what worked for me and so that is what I recommend to you. Understand too that if you do go to inpatient treatment, it is very likely that you will be exposed to AA and NA meetings while you are there anyway. So if you believe the solution to be in the program of AA, then I would still recommend that you get professional help as your first step.
Now what is your second step at this point? Follow through. Always follow through. You asked for help, and someone directed you to a rehab or some other professional service that is designed to help you with your drug or alcohol problem. Now your next step at this point is to follow through with the suggestions and actually do the work involved.
Yes, getting clean and sober takes work. It is easy to just continue to self medicate with your drug of choice. That is the easy, natural path for any addict or alcoholic to follow. But to actually make the huge change in your life that requires you to learn a new way to live, to stop using drugs every day and to have the courage to face a new reality–that takes real guts. Most people will go through a huge amount of pain due to their addiction before they become willing to change. It takes courage to realize that you are at a bottom, and that you have to take a long hard look at your life and at yourself. Most are not willing to do this. Surrender is rare. When it happens, embrace it, go with it, use it to get yourself into treatment. This is how healing starts.
Now if you have already surrendered and then you asked for help and finally ended up in treatment, you are not quite “there” yet. In fact, the real trick is that you will never really get “there,” and this should dictate how you live your life from here on out.
And how is that? How should you continue to live in recovery, after you have walked out of rehab? Let’s see:
* Your main priority in life is always abstinence from drugs and alcohol. This is #1 in your life, above all else. It is your most important truth. That you abstain from drugs and alcohol, every day. No exceptions. Nothing is more important, ever.
* That your second priority in life is to use your sobriety as a platform for personal growth. “Is sitting in AA meetings every day helping me to grow?” Some will say “yes,” others will realize the answer is “no.” Don’t just take the usual steps in recovery if they do not serve you. I quit going to meetings almost a decade ago because they were such a poor use of my time. I spend that time doing other things now, and it is not just watching cartoons. I still connect with others in recovery and do meaningful work every day.
* That your third priority in life is to your own health. Treat your life as an experiment in holistic health and growth. Always strive for better health, in all areas of your life. Recovery is a return to better health by quitting the drugs and alcohol, but it should not stop there, and therefore you should be trying to achieve better health in ALL areas of your life.