If you feel like you are trapped and stuck in your addiction then here is what I would suggest for you to do.
First of all you need to break through your denial. It does not do you any good to rush off and go find a solution right away if you are not ready for that solution. I can tell you this based on my own experience because two times in my struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction I went to a treatment center for the sake of family and friends, rather than for myself. Twice I allowed myself to be convinced that I should go to rehab, even though I really wanted to keep drinking and taking drugs. And as you can imagine, I relapsed quickly both times.
It wasn’t until I reached a point of “total and complete surrender” that I was finally able to let go completely and start a new life in recovery. But in order to reach that point I had to become very, very desperate for change. I had to somehow break through the denial that I had been living in for so long.
My denial told me that I could only be happy by being drunk or high. My denial told me that if I became clean and sober that I would feel awful both physically and emotionally, and then my experience confirmed that for me: When I landed in jail and went for a few days without drinking or drug use, I felt terrible from withdrawal. My assumption was that I would feel terrible forever if I was off of the booze and the drugs, so I was afraid of sobriety from a physical standpoint. I also did not like that when I was clean and sober I could feel my emotions. That made me feel as if I was vulnerable and even a little weak.
As I mentioned I was convinced to attend rehab at two different points in my struggle. Even though I agreed to go to treatment, in the back of my mind I knew that I wanted to get drunk and high. I wasn’t going for the right reason. I was still in denial. I still believed that drugs and alcohol were the right solution for all of my problems.
To put it another way: I knew that I had problems in my life, but I was blaming other things for those problems and I argued that drugs and alcohol at least gave me a bit of happiness. I could not see the simple truth, which was that the drug and alcohol use was what perpetuated my misery, my chaotic life, and all of my unhappiness.
It took what it took. It took that moment of surrender, followed by inpatient treatment, followed by months and month of AA meetings, therapy, IOP, and so on. It took a breaking through surrender and realizing that I was never going to be happy if I continued to chase after drugs and alcohol.
I do not know why I finally had that flash of insight, but I finally did have it. The insight that allowed me to see that I was on a hamster wheel when it came to chasing after my “happiness.”
The first time that I used a drink or a drug I became instantly happy. Suddenly, life was an instant party and I was practically dancing with joy because I had discovered alcohol and drugs. The magic was that I could use drugs and booze at any given second of my life in order to instantly turn my mood around. If I was having a bad day or I was upset about something, I could simply self medicate and BAM!…I would instantly be happy. Drugs and alcohol had that magic power, and I was completely captivated by it.
We all know how this story ends, however. Eventually I came to use drugs and alcohol every single day, all the time. Now being drunk and high was just my normal, everyday experience. It was no longer special. And the consequences of getting drunk and high all the time were beginning to catch up with me, so my life slowly got worse and worse.
Because my life was slowly getting worse and worse due to my addiction, it drove me to medicate myself even more. How much sense does that make? But this seems to be the case with problems such as addiction, mental illness, depression, anxiety, and so on….the problem perpetuates itself in some ways.
So if you have anxiety, it freezes you up and you can’t do the things that you know will solve your problems, and then you beat yourself up over the fact that you have anxiety, which creates….more anxiety.
If you have are overweight and you are eating emotionally, you beat yourself up for the situation and your solution becomes….more emotional eating.
If you have a drug or alcohol addiction, your life spins out of control and you suffer more and more negative consequences, so you eventually self medicate this with…..more drugs and alcohol.
Most of these problems seem to follow this pattern, in that they perpetuate themselves. Our solution for any addiction seems to be….more addiction. That is what creates the cycle, and that is what perpetuates the problem.
So the solution is to step outside of this cycle. We do that by going to inpatient treatment and getting professional help.
But again, going to rehab is really only going to be effective if we have first broken through our denial. We must come to terms with the fact that we are never going to be happy in life if we continue to self medicate.
There is something else that I want you to consider: It is very difficult to know if you are in a state of true surrender or not. The first two times that I attended treatment I believed that I might be in a surrender state, meaning that I might be truly ready for recovery and real change.
Unfortunately I was mistaken at those times, and I ended up relapsing. But I would argue that while I was in treatment, even though I did not stay clean and sober, certain seeds were planted for me and I realized that hope did exist. I just did not believe that this hope applied to me, or that I could ever work a recovery program like what they described to me in rehab. I thought that I was unique, that I was different.
The truth was that I just wasn’t ready and that I had not worked through all of my denial yet. I still believed that I would be miserable if I was clean and sober.
From a proactive standpoint, my recommendation to the struggling addict would be to start keeping a written “happiness journal.” If you write down how happy you are each day, then it will force your mind to wake up the truth: That you are no longer happy self medicating every day, and that it is time to do something about your problem. You may also try counseling, therapy, or AA meetings to help you break through your denial. Eventually, the chaos and misery of addiction and its consequences will drive you to realize the truth–that there has to be a better way. That better path begins with inpatient treatment.