It is no secret that addiction and alcoholism tend to be isolating diseases.
Therefore, in order to recover, we need to somehow break free from isolation and put ourselves back into contact with other people–preferably positive people who want to see us do well.
I would propose that there are at least 3 shortcuts to achieving this breakthrough from isolation and depression.
The first “shortcut” would be to pick up the phone, call a rehab center, and get yourself scheduled for inpatient treatment. When you check into a rehab center it is always among a group of peers.
Now even if you have a certain amount of anxiety towards this situation, I would strongly encourage you to put that fear to the side and just dive into treatment. At some point your misery from addiction will keep multiplying and escalating to the point where you will no longer care about social anxiety any longer, and you will become willing to face your fears.
This is how it was for me when it came to inpatient rehab. I was honestly terrified of checking into a treatment center because I knew that they would have AA meetings and group therapy, and I was afraid to interact with a group of peers. I was scared and intimidated by the idea. I felt like I could face them if I were drinking and on drugs, but not sober. So I stayed stuck in my addiction for several more years until I finally was broken down to the point that I no longer cared about this fear.
Realize that I did not have to wait until I “summoned the courage” to go to rehab. Instead, I hit bottom and I still had that social anxiety that was steering me away from rehab and meetings, but I just did not care any longer. I was completely “done” and I no longer cared about myself or anything else in the whole world. That was the miserable state in which I was able to face my fears finally.
Going to treatment was eye opening in this regard. After a few days of detox I started attending groups and meetings and I actually felt human again. I had not realized just how depressed and isolated I was in my drinking until I got to rehab and started interacting with people again. This gave me a lot of hope, to realize that life might actually be worth living sober again, and that it was possible to move past my anxiety in recovery, even without the crutch of alcohol or other drugs.
Now the second “shortcut” that I would suggest may very well come as an extension of inpatient treatment, and that would be therapy or counseling. Many treatment centers will direct you to these kinds of services after you discharge from a 28 day program. The idea is that you will follow up with either IOP groups several days each week, or perhaps just see a therapist one on one. This was honestly a huge part of my own recovery and I made a lot of significant progress based on the fact that I was being actively “coached” by a professional therapist in early recovery.
For example, it was a therapist who urged me to go back to work, to go back to college, to quit smoking cigarettes, and to start exercising. All of these things played a pretty major role in my recovery success, and I don’t know that I would have tapped into some of that growth just by attending AA. In other words, counseling or therapy can be a great supplement to the rest of your recovery process. Just counseling alone is not really enough for what I would consider to be “full recovery,” but it is definitely a worthy supplement that everyone should consider.
A lot of what needs to happen in addiction recovery is to identify the various ways in which each of us is blocking themselves from peace, joy, and freedom. We all do this, especially early in recovery, and we need to identify and eliminate our hang ups. For example, when I was early in recovery my therapist was able to help me to identify that I was trapping myself in self pity mode. This was not serving me in any way and therefore I had to take steps to eliminate the self pity so I could get on with my life. But without the therapist I may not have even known that this was a problem at all! And the same thing can be true with an individual who may be struggling with a major resentment, or issues in their past.
Now it is true that working through the 12 steps of AA or NA might be able to uncover some of these negative issues. But it is certainly not the case that every person in recovery will be able to identify all of their hang ups and issues with the 12 step program alone. Some of us need extra help, and I would argue that every single person in recovery can at least benefit by having the extra help and insight that comes from having a weekly therapy session. I highly recommend it.
Now the third shortcut that I would recommend in terms of overcoming isolation would be to attend AA and NA meetings. I admit that I was very nervous to do this myself in the beginning but I eventually pushed past those fears out of sheer desperation and misery. In other words, I no longer cared about my anxiety towards AA, and I agreed to start attending. Going to treatment first helped with this transition for me. Once I started attending AA meetings it did become a little bit easier over time. Also, I worked with a sponsor and was able to see some of the blocks and negative issues that were holding me back from being truly free. Going to meetings and finding a new group of positive people to be around is pretty darn crucial for most people in recovery. Even though I was very nervous to attend meetings in the beginning it ended up being a huge form of support for me in the first year.
So if these are the 3 shortcuts, then what is “the shortcut to the shortcut?”
It is to surrender. Right here, right now, decide that you want something different for your life. If you are willing to surrender completely then you can ask for help and start living your life in a different way.
I had to be willing to let go of everything, to push my own agenda completely to the side, so that I could listen to people who would tell me how to live my life differently.
If you are still clinging to the need for control, if you are still clinging to any part of your old life, then that will likely hold you back from accepting recovery into your life.
I had to let go of everything and move on from all of it. I started a new life when I finally surrendered.
Aren’t you ready for happiness, joy, and freedom in your life? Aren’t you ready to be free from chemical dependency?
Make the call today!