Active addiction is no easy path. Anyone who has been at the mercy of an addiction to anything, whether it be alcohol or drugs or something else knows this. Maintaining an addiction, dealing with the guilt and shame and consequences and risks day in and day out is a living nightmare that you can’t seem to wake up from.
With that said, getting sober is equally challenging. It requires far more than willpower. The very thought of quitting can trigger powerful anxiety and fear, and will often kick your defense mechanisms into high gear. It may feel like your own brain is working against you -- and it is.
Getting Sober Is Possible, For Anyone
People do it every single day, and you can, too. Is it going to be easy? The honest answer is No. For me it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. For some people, it may be, but for most, it is a struggle, and that battle against who you used to be will continue for some time. There are no easy fixes. An expensive few weeks in treatment meditating and swimming isn’t going to magically cure your addiction, although that would certainly be nice. The bottom line is addiction has underlying causes. Co-occurring disorders are a big factor for anyone who struggles with addiction. Let’s just be realistic for a moment since insurance companies seem to live in an altered dimension. Thirty days inpatient is a drop in the bucket when we are talking about treating and addressing these factors of addiction.
Everyone’s Experience Is Their Own
You may have heard the saying “It takes what it takes” and it’s true. Each person is an individual with their own path. What works for one person may not work for another. Some people are able to easily recognize their problem and will not hit rock bottom. Often times what I have seen is that it is the emotional bottom that breaks you. When you have lost all hope and are finally willing to do whatever it takes. Some people hit multiple bottoms, each worse than the last before they are finally able to get sober.
Some people require one or more rounds of addiction treatment before they are finally able to get sober. Some don’t go to treatment at all. Many will choose twelve step programs, and will thrive with the support they get there. Some people will relapse multiple times, and some don’t. It’s important not to compare our journey with that of others.
The Work Involved In Getting Sober
Getting sober requires a certain level of willingness. Sure, not everyone is willing when they get into treatment or are introduced to the court system. There may be a lot of fear, resistance and denial. The more willing you are to get help and let go of your addiction, the easier things will be. You may find that you are willing one day, resistant the next. This is normal. Feeling some fear and resistance does not mean that you can’t get sober, though.
Discomfort will happen. You will experience intense cravings and anxiety, especially during the early days of your journey . This is why a support system is vital. Over time, you’ll find that the cravings and obsessive thoughts dissipate and lessen. There are going to be days, where it may feel unbearable. However, sitting through these feelings is part of the process, and you will live through it I promise. The thing is each time that you succeed you build confidence and self esteem in your ability to recover. There is a saying, you don’t have to use ever again -- even if you want to. It’s true.
Support Is The Key
Trying to do it on your own is not the way to go. The reason being is that addiction is about isolation and loneliness, recovery is about connection, this why you need support. You need to make decisions and prioritize. Hanging out with the same people, people who drink and use will only thwart your efforts to get sober. You need people who are also living sober, or at least people who care about you enough to respect your choices and who don’t use around you.
Sometimes, you need to let go of people. This isn’t always easy. You may need to end relationships, distance yourself from certain family members and let go of places and situations that aren’t healthy. You may think you can have it all by being sober but still hanging out with the same people and in the same places. Most people find that this is a fast ticket to relapse. It just doesn’t work.
Going to twelve step meetings is a great way to meet people who are sober and still having fun. These are people who are going to understand where you have been, what you are going through now, and how to help you stay sober into the future. These are your people, and you need them.
The Feelings Will Come
One of the difficult aspects of recovering from addiction is the powerful feelings you will experience once you get sober. Many of us either consciously or unconsciously turn to alcohol or drugs to help numb painful feelings. Without substances in your body, you may feel crushed under the weight of your emotions. These may include: Guilt, shame, anger, sorrow, grief, fear and anxiety.
It will be tempting at times to go back to your old way of dealing with these feelings, but it’s not worth it, and you will only create more situations to feel badly about.
The good news is that feelings are just feelings, and while they should be acknowledged and honored, you don’t have to be run by them. You can work through them as they come, sit with the pain and discomfort and know that it will pass, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
There is no easy fix for getting sober, but it can and will happen for you if you do some basic work, and reach out and get plenty of support.
Author - Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.