A reader writes in and says “Help, addiction has me trapped in a cycle. How do I get out of it?”
The first step for me in breaking free from this cycle of addiction was to make the decision to take action. It started with a decision. Now at the time I did not realize that this was such a life altering decision I was making, partially because I did not have much faith that I would really stick to it and remain sober for so long. But at the time, my decision to try to quit drugs and alcohol was a moment of surrender. It was a letting go of something, not so much a positive decision on my part but more of a release of something. I was broke down as a person and I simply gave up. That is what the decision felt like. I did not get excited about taking action. Instead, I pretty much gave up on my usual course of action, which was to scramble to get more drugs, justify using them, medicate my feelings, and so on. I was not so much choosing a path as I was giving up on my old path. That was what surrender felt like to me.
Now the second part of the solution for me was to ask for help and get myself physically detoxed from the drugs and the alcohol. I suggest that anyone else do the same: ask for help. Tell people such as friends and family that you need professional help in order to stop using drugs. If they are anything like my family then they will find a place for you to go that will help you with this, such as a treatment center or a drug rehab. This was a critical step for me and I do not believe I would be clean and sober today if I had not gone to rehab.
Now as a matter of fact, treatment played a huge role in my early recovery, and I ended up going to long term treatment right after leaving detox and residential. I ended up living there in treatment for quite a long time, and this gave me a solid foundation of recovery that has carried me through now to over 8 years of continuous sobriety. I believe that long term rehab was important for me, though other people might have a different situation in which they do not need that level of support.
The key is to take massive action though. Anything less will fail you in recovery. You need massive action because:
1) Doing less will eventually have you slide back toward a relapse, even if you start out on the right path.
2) It takes a huge effort to change everything in your life and break free from the cycle of addiction.
3) Everything in your old life was defined by your addiction, and it takes a massive effort to break free from that pattern.
Ask for help and follow through. That is the key to success.