If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse problems then we want to help you.
What is the path to getting this help? First of all you need to surrender to the fact that you actually need to get professional help.
This is not the same thing as admitting that you have a problem. For a long time I was willing to admit that I had a problem, but I was not yet ready to do anything about it. I felt hopeless and I did not believe that treatment could help me. I had been to rehab twice prior and it had not worked for me, so I assumed that it would never work for me. I argued that I was just broken in some certain way, so that treatment and recovery programs could not possibly help me.
This turned out to be wrong. The missing link that I did not realize at the time was “total and complete surrender.” Once I surrendered completely–not just to the fact that I had a disease but also the fact that I needed a solution–I was finally able to turn my life around and get the help I needed.
Surrender is key. Hitting bottom and breaking through your denial is a critical part of the recovery process. Until you surrender completely you cannot make any lasting progress in recovery.
This, above all else, is what dictates success or failure in the world of substance abuse treatment. Your level of willingness to work a recovery program is what dictates your success, and your level of willingness is going to depend on your level of surrender. Hit bottom and let go of everything, let go of the need for control, and just let yourself be led to a solution. That is the only way to overcome real addictions. You must surrender to win.
Now once you have surrendered the process becomes much easier than you could have imagined. You don’t have to “figure anything out” for yourself at this point, you just need to ask for help and be willing to follow through and take direction.
Once you surrender completely your next step should be to call an inpatient treatment center. Call a rehab center up and tell them that you need help and start asking them questions. It is their job to see you get the help that you need, and if they cannot help you directly then they will most likely refer you to someone else who can get you pointed in the right direction.
You may be wondering what will happen at this point and how your new life in recovery will unfold. The process typically goes like this: Ask for help, go to treatment, and follow up with support groups of some kind. For many people this is going to mean 12 step meetings and possibly IOP groups after they leave inpatient treatment.
Again, the critical concept here is that you follow through with all of your treatment, all of the recommended aftercare, and simply do what is suggested to you. If there is a secret to successful recovery from addiction, this is it: Simply get out of your own way and follow directions. Do what you are told and your life will improve by leaps and bounds.
Now it is one thing to go to inpatient treatment and stop abusing drugs or alcohol, but it is another thing entirely to get out of treatment, go back to your old environment, and build a new life for yourself that allows you to remain clean and sober.
Going to treatment–while sometimes very intimidating–is honestly the easy part. Just call them up and get scheduled for rehab. Show up and do what they tell you to do.
The hard part is in the follow through, and what happens after you leave treatment when trying to rebuild some kind of “normal” life for yourself. This is where the real challenge of addiction recovery comes in.
Once you get detoxed from drugs and alcohol it is fairly easy–at least in the short run–to maintain sobriety. The challenge comes from rebuilding a life and creating the kind of life for yourself in which you no longer would want to throw everything away on a relapse.
In essence, you cannot just go to rehab and then go live a lazy and boring life, because that will lead you back to drugs and alcohol. Instead, you are forced with the task of building a life that is actually worth living, a life that inspires you and excites you, at least to some degree.
We can put this in terms of self esteem as well. When you first get clean and sober your self esteem is quite low and you do not generally feel very good about yourself. In order to sustain recovery in the long run you are going to need to feel good about yourself again.
Sometimes I think that we are all fed the line of thinking that if we can just change our thoughts magically then we can change how we feel about ourselves, and thus we can boost our self esteem.
While there is some truth to this–we can use our thoughts to redirect ourselves emotionally to some degree–when it comes to long term recovery, our thoughts alone are not enough to change how we feel about ourselves. We also need to take real action.
And this is what we are talking about when we say that “you have to do the work” in early recovery. What is this work that you need to do?
You need to heal your life in the most holistic sense possible. Which just means that you need to heal your life physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially. All of those areas of your life have been compromised and broken due to addiction. All of those dimensions of your health have been attacked because of substance abuse.
In recovery, we have to do far more than just putting down the addictive substances. We also have to rebuild our lives in a healthy way by taking positive action, and that means that we need to–after getting established with a baseline of abstinence in inpatient treatment–heal our lives by making positive changes in all of these different areas.
So today, I do some seated meditation, and I go for a jog, and I work with newcomers in recovery, and I do all sorts of things that improve my holistic health in all of these different areas.
I have found that it is not enough for me to focus on spirituality alone–doing so leaves me vulnerable to relapse in other areas of my life. For example, I have watched a lot of people in recovery who got sick or injured and ended up relapsing due to addictive medications. With a holistic approach to recovery they may have taken better care of their physical health and avoided that particular relapse from happening.
In order to overcome substance abuse you must adopt a path of healing and personal growth. It is not enough to simply abstain from chemicals, you must also build a healthier lifestyle and take positive action every day. Good luck to you in your recovery!