What is the best way to solve your problem of drug addiction or alcoholism?
My suggestion to you, or for anyone who is truly struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, is to pick up the phone right now and start calling treatment centers.
The best suggestion that I can give to anyone who is desperate for change is that they find an inpatient rehab, the kind that includes a medical detox facility. I would suggest a 28 day program.
This is what ultimately worked for me, even though I had been to rehab twice before and relapsed both times. After attending treatment a third time I have been able to maintain my sobriety for over 16 years continuous now, and my life just keeps getting better and better.
The problem for the struggling addict or alcoholic is generally not in stopping–they can and do stop all the time. The problem is in staying stopped, and in learning how to live within their own skin without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
There is a strong need to self medicate with something, anything. And when you take an addict or alcoholic and you sober them up suddenly, they nearly panic at the thought that there is nothing to self medicate with, nothing to ease their emotions, nothing to use in order to hide from themselves.
Addiction can make us feel a bit silly and beat ourselves up over it. How does this happen? Well, the addict or alcoholic can have this moment of realization in which they clearly see just how miserable they really are, just how destructive their behavior has been, and just how much all of this has hurt their friends, family, and loved ones. And yet even with this realization, the addict or alcoholic feels powerless to stop with the self medicating. They feel guilty and frustrated and angry at their addiction, and the only coping mechanism that they have for these feelings is….you guessed it….to abuse more drugs or alcohol. This is just one more level of the vicious cycle of addiction.
So how do you escape from this cycle? How do you break free from the need to keep self medicating?
One way is to simply go check into rehab. This is not necessarily a cure, but in the short run, it is pretty much certain to work for you, at least initially. In other words, it doesn’t matter how heavily addicted a person might be, or how often or intensely they self medicate on a daily basis, because that person can check into rehab and get “dried out” in a matter of days. I have heard some people comment that this is impossible because a certain addict is “far too addicted” to be able to go through the detox process, but that is just silly. Treatment centers have medical staff, and they specialize in getting people through the withdrawal process. Any person can go through detox, though some will need more medical attention than others during this process. Regardless, anyone can go to rehab and get spun dry in a matter of days.
What happens next, though, is where all the magic happens. Many addicts and alcoholics have been to jail for a few days, dried out, and then immediately started self medicating again after leaving jail. In a similar way, anyone who is leaving an inpatient rehab program is at risk for the same exact behavior, and for the same exact reason: Self medicating with your drug of choice is your coping mechanism. Using drugs or drinking booze is what works for you, it is what you use to solve your problems, and it is how you have learned to deal with life.
The key, therefore, is what happens on the day that you walk out of rehab. As stated, anyone can do a 28 day program and stay clean and sober “while on the inside.” It is all about what happens after you leave treatment. Does the addict run back to their old patterns of behavior, to their old hangouts, to their old using buddies? Or do they start in with their aftercare, start attending meetings, and begin to build new and healthy relationships?
Keep in mind, too, that one of the biggest problems that the alcoholic typically faces is that of physical dependence on the drug that is alcohol. When they attempt to stop drinking on their own, many alcoholics experience very strong withdrawal symptoms, some of which are dangerous or even life threatening. Typically this becomes a major hurdle for the alcoholic in terms of trying to stop on their own, and the discomfort of the detox process is simply too overwhelming.
Going to inpatient treatment solves this problem very neatly, as they have medical staff who can monitor your safety and help to keep you comfortable during withdrawal. You do not have to suffer needlessly when you attempt to quit drinking if you are willing to check into a rehab facility.
One of the biggest and most important steps that you can take while you are in treatment is to set up your aftercare. So they will likely pair you up with a therapist while you are in treatment, and that therapist will work with you in order to come up with a plan for when you get out of the facility. They may set you up to go to IOP, they may set you up for counseling sessions, they may have you go to AA or NA meetings every day. Or your aftercare plan may be a combination of all of these things and more.
What is of critical importance is that you follow up with all of these suggestions, whatever they may be, and take them as seriously as if your life depended on them. In reality, this may actually be the case, because everyone who attempts sobriety and then later relapses report back that “it got even worse after I relapsed, it was worse than before.” Everyone seems to say this nearly universally, so that should be extra incentive for you to push extra hard in terms of your recovery program. Everything depends on staying clean and sober because without your sobriety you are just going to slip back into misery, chaos, and a case of “I don’t care about anyone or anything anymore.”
In recovery you find meaning and purpose in life and you learn how to care about things again. In order to maintain this new life in recovery, however, you are going to have to put in some work. They will show you what this work is all about at inpatient treatment, and they will set you up with the tools that you need in order to be successful.
But in order to tap into this new life in recovery and start experiencing joy and freedom, you are going to have to dive into “real surrender.” That means you must let go of everything, including your need to control things, including any fear you may have sobriety, and also to include any fear or worry that you may have about rehab. You just have to let all of it go and become willing to do exactly what is suggested to you.
The only way to build a new life for yourself is to let go of your old life completely so that you can make way for the new learning experiences. Once you have done this and gone to rehab and seen the new life that available to you, your motivation to do the work will increase exponentially. Getting a taste of the good life in recovery will spur you on to take further positive action, and then you are on an upward spiral of positive growth.
Are you ready to get started on building this positive new life? Make the call now!