Anyone who has struggled with alcoholism knows that it is baffling and insidious the way that it completely overtakes and systematically destroys your life.
In order to overcome this you really need to take massive action up front, followed by a lifetime of commitment. That’s a tall order.
The massive action part of this whole thing should definitely begin with inpatient treatment. There are other options that still constitute “taking action” when it comes to addiction and recovery, but nothing really qualifies as “massive action” in quite the same way as going to inpatient treatment for 28 days.
This is because going to inpatient treatment combines several forms of treatment all in the same place–group therapy, individual counseling, support meetings, medical detoxification, MAT, and so on. You get it all when you go to an inpatient facility.
The reason that addiction is so baffling is because the solution for it is like nothing we have ever experienced.
Most things in our life follow a simple pattern: We encounter a problem or an issue in our life, and then we take the simple steps to overcome that issue. Maybe we have to ask for advice from someone else, but we solve our problems and we move on with our life quickly. For the vast majority of problems and challenges that we face throughout our lives, we only have to put forth a minimal amount of effort.
But addiction is different. Because it is such a pervasive lifestyle disease, we have to put in a great deal of effort in order to overcome the grip that it has on us. Just making a modest or minimal effort is only going to result in eventual relapse.
The way that most of our lives work is this: You put in a modest effort, you get modest results. You put in a tiny effort, you get out tiny results.
In most of our experiences, the amount of “reward” that we get for something often mirrors the amount of effort that we put into that challenge.
This is not the case with drug or alcohol addiction. The reason that it is so different is because when we make any effort in recovery that is less than “all in,” we end up relapsing. So if you make any amount of effort other than the maximum when it comes to addiction treatment, you get zero results. The end result is always relapse.
So even if you have faced and overcome many different kinds of problems in your life, it is likely that the struggling addict or alcoholic has never overcome something of this scope. In order to succeed in addiction treatment you must make the effort into your life’s work. You must dedicate yourself and your entire life to working a recovery program. This is a much different level of commitment than most people are used to making.
Now some people get into early recovery and maybe they even go to inpatient treatment, but then they quickly start to feel better about themselves now that they are clean and sober. They refer to this in early recovery as “the pink cloud syndrome” because it feels as if nothing could ever go wrong again and everything is just going to be great forever.
Of course, life will naturally have both ups and downs, and therefore anyone who is riding the pink cloud in early recovery will eventually experience the polar opposite of “bliss.” As such, we need to prepare for this inevitable roller coaster and realize that long term recovery is going to take some serious dedication and commitment.
The way that we overcome this baffling disease is to ask for help at our moment of surrender. We must admit and accept that we do not have the solution to our own problem, and that we need outside help in order to fix our problem. If we cannot accept this then we cannot really make any progress in terms of recovery.
Once you admit to your problems and you realize that you need professional help to overcome them, now you can start making progress towards a better life. The baffling part of recovery is that if you just get out of your own way for a while and you allow other people to direct you then it will eventually grant you with total freedom. This paradox baffled me in early recovery and one day I realized that my total and complete surrender had led me to total and complete freedom. By humbling myself and following directions, by going to inpatient treatment and doing exactly what they told me to do, I was able to turn my life around and find peace, serenity, and happiness.
Keep in mind that this peace and happiness did not just fall into my lap overnight–I had to work hard at my recovery for many months until one day I looked back and realized just how far I had come. But the key is that I started from a point of ultimate surrender and total misery–my life could not have been any worse, and I could not have felt any lower, and so the only direction that I could go in sobriety was up. So I decided to finally get out of my own way and to listen to advice and to just do what they told me to do for a while. I made an agreement with myself that I would no longer trust my own ideas, but instead I would take advice from people in recovery.
And I honestly did not think it would work! I can remember feeling skeptical about the whole thing, believing that I would probably be miserable in sobriety and eventually go back to drinking booze. I can remember thinking “if this doesn’t work out then I can always go back to the misery and the chaos of alcoholism.” I felt like I was done with the alcohol though because I could finally see through my denial and realize that it would never make me happy.
There is no great secret trick when it comes to beating drug addiction or alcoholism. You simply stop drinking and taking drugs, then you rebuild your life in a positive way and start associating with positive people. That’s really the core of recovery–trading out your bad habits for more positive ones, and living your life in a different way each and every day so that you empower yourself rather than feed chemicals into your body.
Eventually, if you are “living right” in recovery, then your happiness and serenity will begin to reflect this. It takes a while for the positive benefits of living this way to become fully apparent, and in the meantime you won’t be too miserable if you are in treatment, going to support groups, and generally trying to find your way through early recovery.
It is well worth the effort, because addiction is full of misery and choas and struggle. When you choose recovery, you may have to struggle a bit, but the end result is that you avoid the misery and the chaos. It is true that you have to make a huge effort–life is going to be a struggle no matter what path you choose. But at least with recovery you get to be happy and free. Good luck!