Why Getting Clean and Sober is Easier Today than in the Future

Why Getting Clean and Sober is Easier Today than in the Future


If you are on the fence when it comes to your drug or alcohol problem, there is a strong argument that you should take action sooner rather than later. There is no reason to delay in seeking help for yourself and in fact, it is easier to get help now than it is to wait and seek help in the future.

If you have been thinking about making a major change in your life, the best time to do it is RIGHT NOW. If you have been putting off the decision to seek sobriety or recovery, then the time to act is RIGHT NOW. Do not delay any further as it will only make things worse, more difficult, and more challenging for you if you continue to procrastinate on your decision.

The time to act is right now.

There are many reasons why. Let’s look at a few of them.

The mental trick that we play on ourselves

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First of all, there is something that you should realize about making future decisions.

When you say to yourself “I want to be clean and sober, but I just don’t want to take action today on this goal, I would rather wait a while and maybe deal with it in a few months,” what you are really doing is not simply delaying the decision…..what you are doing is deciding NOT to take action at all.

You attempt to fool yourself by delaying the decision to get sober, telling yourself that “you will do it in a month or two.” But the only time that you can actually decide to do something is RIGHT NOW. If you choose not to do something, then in the future you will face another decision, a completely new decision, of whether or not you will choose to get clean and sober. It will become the present all over again and you will be faced with the same tough decision that you are facing now. You cannot make this future decision and decide for yourself in the future that you are going to get sober and then have it become automatic or easy for you when that point in time arrives. It will still be just as difficult in the future as it is now. And in fact it will probably be a little worse. It would actually be easier to just go ahead and do it right now rather than to delay. When you delay you are simply training yourself to procrastinate more, and this will make it more likely to happen again and again in the future.

You cannot decide to get clean and sober in the future. You can only decide to get clean and sober RIGHT NOW. If you are serious about pursuing recovery then at some point, realize that you are going to have to make a decision in the present. At some point, you are going to be fully aware, fully in the present moment, and you are going to have to decide that you want to take action, ask for help, and change your life RIGHT NOW. Not at some mystery point up in the future (which does not really exist at all, and is just a delay mechanism so that you can avoid taking action).

If you are guilty of this mental trickery then give yourself a break. We have all been there before. It is natural to want to avoid this sort of change. But at some point you need to own up to this part of your life and take action to correct it. You can only make a present decision to quit using drugs and alcohol, not a future decision.

Making the decision right now, in the present moment, is at least possible. Making it in the future is impossible, and is simply a mental trick that we play on ourselves. When the future gets here, you will face the decision all over again, in the present moment. So just realize that if and when you decide to get clean and sober, you will do so in the present moment. You cannot cast the decision into the future and make it easier for yourself. The decision is going to be tough to make, period. But you still have to make it at some point, or face the heavy consequences of continued addiction or alcoholism. The reason for this is because addiction keeps getting worse over time. It never gets better.

The biggest reason to take the plunge right now: addiction is progressive

The biggest reason to get clean and sober today rather than to delay the decision indefinitely is because addiction is progressive and fatal.

This means that the addiction always gets worse over time, never better.

It is pretty easy to fool yourself on this one too, because if you are an addict or an alcoholic and you are living through the chaos and misery of addiction it is actually pretty easy to convince yourself–in the short run–that things are getting better.

The addict or the alcoholic who is in heavy denial can do this quite easily, and convince themselves that things are getting better.

For example, an alcoholic may go off on a serious bender. They drink to excess for a long time and thus lose complete control, creating much chaos and misery in their lives. The episode ends and they crash. Things settle down for a few days as they recoup from the madness. The alcoholic starts to feel a bit better because they have been sober for a few days, then they might start drinking very slowly again. Because they are taking it easy their addiction suddenly seems very manageable. Instead of chaos and misery they are controlling their drinking just fine all of a sudden. Furthermore, they may even have a few days during this time period where they actually enjoy themselves and they might even be social. Things are looking up, and their drinking seems to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

This is always possible in the short run, but never in the long run. This is why the alcoholic is in denial, because they are stuck viewing things with this short term view, and cannot back up and see the bigger picture. The bigger picture being that eventually they lose control due to their drinking and that total chaos ensues. But they cannot see this because in the short run things are fine, things are pleasant, they have a nice buzz and are being social, and so on.

What defines alcoholism and addiction is not that you lose control every time. What defines addiction is that you lose control eventually. The alcoholic cannot control their drinking indefinitely. At some point, the chaos always returns. This is what defines the disease. The alcoholic in denial cannot see this, because they are clinging to the fact that they have just had five successful drinking days in a row where nothing bad happened, and so therefore things must be different this time. It’s the old line about insanity: they are doing the same thing (drinking or using their drug of choice) and expecting a different result. They expect that they can suddenly use their drug of choice successfully without experiencing any consequences in the long run. Other people who know them can look at the big picture and realize that eventually the chaos and the misery is going to come back.

Now realize that through all of this cycle of madness, through all of these ups and downs that the alcoholic or addict may experience, through all of these periods of using and abstinence, that addiction always gets worse in the long run. It always gets worse over time, never any better. This means that the amounts of drugs and alcohol that are consumed always becomes greater and greater. It means that the amount of chaos and misery and the consequences from the addiction always get more intense and more serious over time. It means that drug addicts will tend to use more drugs and seek out new drugs as time progresses. It means that alcoholics will become more physically dependent over time to the point that it becomes dangerous and life threatening just to stop drinking cold turkey.

All of this happens slowly but surely in the long run when we continue to self medicate in our addiction. In the short run it is very difficult to see these changes because our addiction will fluctuate, it will be cyclical, and in fact we will think it is getting better about half of the time. But the long term trend is always down, down, down. It always gets worse in the long run, and the eventually ends are always the same: jails, institutions, and death. Addiction kills you in the end, unless you get locked up first.

So the progression of addiction is your biggest and most important reason to get sober today. Take action now, while you still can. Many addicts and alcoholics die from the disease and then it is too late. Had they known in advance, they would have bit the bullet and went to rehab.

If you are telling yourself that things are different this time because suddenly it has become easier to control your drinking or your drug intake, this is just plain crazy. This is denial. Look only at the long term progression of your drug or alcohol use. Look at a period of years when you analyze your drinking or drug use. How has it changed over several years? Be honest and realize that it has gotten progressively worse over time. Realize that this trend will continue until it kills you. The only way to stop it is to ask for help and find total abstinence in recovery.

The cost of rehab (and health care in general) continues to rise

Another reason to take action now and seek help is because the cost of treatment continues to rise.

Rehab is not a free service. It would be great if it was but ultimately treatment costs money. And we all know how health care costs are changing these days.

If you act sooner rather than later you will almost certainly get more coverage and better options for treatment funding than if you wait. The general trend is for funding to be cut, for there to be less money to help the people who need, and for insurance companies to keep tightening their grip further and further. Act sooner rather than later and you will likely be in better shape financially.

It does not really matter what your exact situation is; acting sooner is always going to be better than waiting. If you have private insurance or government insurance (such as Medicare or Medicaid) then you should act now because there is a trend that makes it harder for such people to get the help that they need over time. Private insurance used to cover 28 days of rehab as a general rule, these days you would be lucky to get two weeks of rehab covered at even fifty percent. The trend is that funding for treatment is cut more and more over time and therefore you should try to get professional help sooner rather than later. Rising costs and a trend toward less funding options in the future mean that you should take action now to get help.

There is less remaining life to salvage in the future

I have heard this argument many times from people who are older: “What is the point of getting sober now? I don’t have much time left anyway.” They feel because they are now later in life that making the monumental changes to seek recovery are no longer worth it.

Even if this is slightly irrational it is a very common argument and I have heard it from a lot of people. Therefore you should always act sooner rather than later in terms of seeking sobriety so that you take this excuse away from yourself. You can still go to rehab and seek sobriety when you are older but you are likely to be kicking yourself in the pants when you do it and full of regret.

There is probably no magic pill being invented to cure addiction overnight

This next one is a very common argument and a lot of addicts and alcoholics have this in the back of their minds as their possible salvation. It is a vague notion and they probably do not give it a lot of conscious thought but it is still there and they still depend on the idea to justify their using.

The idea is this:

Modern medicine will save them.

The addict or the alcoholic continues to self medicate and avoid treatment because they are hoping for the miracle cure. They are waiting on a pill, on a quick fix, on a revolutionary new medication that will be developed any day now that will cure addiction for them.

A lot of addicts and alcoholics have the vague notion that such a pill is in the works, that it is going to be here any day now, and that it will make the recovery process as easy as snapping your fingers.

It is not surprising that the addict or the alcoholic would want such a magic cure. Think about how their addiction works and what really fuels it: the ability to take a drug or a pill and instantly be happy! This is what fueled their addiction (in the beginning anyway) and so the fact that they gravitate towards the magic pill idea is not too shocking. Of course they want a magic cure that it is quick and easy and painless, this is the exact mindset that drives their addiction!

If you follow modern media then you know that the big pharmaceutical companies are all racing to find this miracle cure. If you read the newspapers then you will see a story every once in a while that talks about how drug companies continue to do research and work on this problem. They are trying to invent the cure for addiction because there is economic incentive for them to do so. Any such “cure” would likely be a medication that is taken repeatedly, for life, so this tendency towards “lock-in, lifetime medication” is another large economic incentive. Curing addicts with medication is good business because you get to sell them a pill for the rest of their life!

The fact is that there is probably no magic cure about to be invented that will cure addiction once and for all. I could be wrong and I certainly hope that I am, but if you are counting on this hope while continuing to self medicate then you are making a huge mistake. I have watched hundreds of recovering addicts and alcoholics try to use medications to help control their addictions, only to relapse and come back to rehab for more help at some future time. The medications that we have now that attempt to help with addiction are–from what I have observed–practically useless. Maybe there are some studies out there that show some level of effectiveness, but while I worked in a detox unit for 5 years I never saw this trend. What I saw was a whole lot of people relapse who had elected to take medications that were supposed to help fight cravings. I knew that most of these people relapsed because nearly all of them eventually came back to the rehab for more detox in the future. It was quite shocking to see how wholly ineffective our current anti-addiction medications are, and so I have very little hope for future advancements in this area. Addiction is a tough nut to crack and I just don’t think that a magic pill is coming in the future. If it is then this will be a huge bonus for every addict and alcoholic, but I would not count on it.

Better to realize that medicine is struggling to find any sort of addiction cure, and in face we are probably a long way from doing so. It also may be impossible. As such, you have at least a half dozen other compelling reasons to seek recovery sooner rather than later.

Just do it: ask for help, take action, discover a new life for yourself in recovery

At some point in time you have to just take the plunge and do it. Ask for help and start on this journey of recovery.

Think of it as an adventure. Ultimately, that is what it is. Think of it as an adventure or as a really strange trip to be taken.

Sobriety is going to be unique, interesting, and exciting. Sure there will be a bit of down time here and there, but the same is true of using drugs and alcohol. In fact, if you get honest with yourself, being stuck in addiction is close to 99 percent down time. You are happy and properly medicated maybe one percent of the time, and the other 99 percent of your time you are either miserable, anxious, obsessing over getting more drugs or booze, trying to get drunk enough or high enough to really be happy, and so on. Addiction has become a chore and the new excitement is to suddenly face life stone cold sober. Being completely un-medicated is the ultimate trip and it will make life interesting again.

So you have this decision to make and the only time that you could ever make it is RIGHT NOW. If you try to put it off for the future then your present decision is not to get clean and sober. Period.

You have only one choice facing you, and it is present during every moment of your life, now and forever moving forward: do I want to seek recovery, or do I want to continue on with my addiction? Make the decision right now to choose recovery. Ask for help, seek treatment, and your life will get better and better.


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