You were not meant to be a drunk or a drug addict.
You were meant to get clean and sober, to conquer your addiction, and to do great things with your life.
Seriously. This is not just “fluff talk here.” This is the truth about addiction and recovery.
Every addict and every alcoholic has a ton of potential. In fact, the further down you have fallen due to the consequences of your addiction, the deeper your impact can be when you eventually do turn your life around. In other words, the fact that you have crashed and burned really hard in your addiction actually becomes an asset in your recovery, because your personal story of triumph becomes a tool for teaching and helping others.
If there is one area of your life in which the “pay it forward” philosophy applies, it is within addiction recovery. When you get clean and sober, one of the biggest keys to maintaining that sobriety is to give it back to others, to help the newcomer, to spread a message of hope about recovery. If you are living a clean and sober life as a recovering alcoholic then your very existence is a beacon of hope to the addict who still struggles. Giving back this message of hope allows you to remain clean and sober, and it of course feels good to help another human being in any capacity.
I can remember when I was stuck in active addiction and I was drinking heavily every day. I can remember questioning my own sanity, and wondering if I was simply destined to die a drunk. I actually said out loud to my family at one point “I really think I was meant to be a drunk. I was meant to die an alcoholic. I don’t know why, but this is obviously the case.” And of course they were trying to convince me to seek help, to go to treatment, to do something about my problem.
And at the time I was paralyzed with fear. I was so comfortable being drunk and heavily medicated with drugs. I was afraid to feel my emotions, I was afraid to face the ramifications of going to treatment. I knew that if I went to treatment that I would be left defenseless against the harsh reality of the world, and that I would have to face myself; to face the person that I had become. And I was very afraid and very ashamed of what I had become due to my addiction.
But what I learned is that I was not necessarily a terrible person just because I was a selfish drug addict or alcoholic. And when I finally surrendered and went to treatment, I was able to see from my peers there that I was not the horrible person that I thought I was. Part of this was because I met friends in recovery and I heard them tell their story, and I realized that our stories were very similar. They went through the same sort of trials that I went through, and we struggled with some of the same issues. If you go to an AA meeting and you listen to everyone’s story, you are almost certain to identify with someone and say “that is just like me, they are essentially telling my story right now!”
And because you can identify with this person and realize that they have gone through your same struggles, you get a large amount of hope from this. You can see that this person in recovery is doing well, they are sharing their story at a meeting, and they seem to be genuinely happy. You realize that you could have this same level of peace and happiness in your life if you are willing to follow the same program that this person is following.
When it finally clicks for you, when you finally hear the right person at the right meeting who is essentially telling your story, you will realize that this person was put in your path for a reason. You heard just the right thing at just the right time, and it turned you on to a path of upward progress, a path of peace, a path of personal growth.
Just ask anyone who is at an AA meeting how they got there and what their journey was like to bring them to sobriety, and they will tell you that it could not have happened any other way, that everything somehow lined up perfectly for them to get clean and sober, and it was almost as if it were meant to happen.
The truth is that nobody has to die in this disease. No addict or alcoholic has to resign themselves to dying from addiction. They can make a choice.
The problem is that not every person knows this. And even if you tell this to them and try to make them understand that they have a choice today, that they can seek help, that they can–in fact–turn their life around…..they may simply not believe it. Some struggling addicts and alcoholics do, in fact, lose all hope.
That is sad and it certainly does happen–some struggling addicts lose all hope. They resign themselves to a slow (or quick) death by addiction.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. No addict ever has to give up hope, because if they give themselves a chance then they can reach out and ask for help.
What this looks like in the real world is typically calling an inpatient treatment center and asking for help. There are other things that you might do, such as going to counseling, seeing a therapist, going to intensive outpatient groups, or going to AA meetings. But none of those solutions can give you the kind of advantage that you get by going to inpatient rehab.
Going to inpatient treatment gives you a significant advantage because it is a more comprehensive solution to the problem of addiction. In other words, going to rehab includes all of the other solutions and keeps those options in play for you. So you can go to a 28 day program and then follow up with AA meetings, with IOP, and with one on one therapy sessions. In fact, I would recommend that you try to do exactly that if you are serious about turning your life around. But keep in mind that it all can start most easily by first going through an inpatient treatment program.
Without first going to rehab your efforts are likely to be scattered and disjointed at best. One of the major benefits that you get from inpatient treatment is the fact that it is a controlled environment that insures you get a full month of clean time and sobriety under your belt. If you try to conquer your addiction without first going to inpatient treatment then you are going to be constantly fighting a battle against cravings and urges from physical withdrawal symptoms. While in a 28 day inpatient program, this problem is neatly sidestepped entirely and you give yourself a 28 day head start on sobriety.
You were not meant to just exist in this life, consume chemicals, and waste away your life by self medicating until you die. That was never your purpose. Find hope in the fact that you can actually turn your life around and start living an exciting life of freedom in recovery. All you have to do is take a leap of faith, ask for help, and go to rehab. Good luck!