Addiction vs. Recovery
It is often said that no one sets out to become an addict. Most addictions begin innocently enough as a person tries something, enjoys the effects, and continues to use for recreational purpose. Or else a person is prescribed sleep or pain medication as a primary means for dealing with insomnia or chronic pain and then there is little oversight or additional therapies provided to manage the original underlying issue.
The challenge with addiction is that it’s not obvious who will become an addict and who will not. It is a very real example of playing Russian Roulette with one’s life.
Another Challenge of Addiction
The often subtle and gradual development of the disease. It often takes years for the changes in the brain and the subsequent changes in behavior and physiology to occur, and at that point that the person becomes aware they have the addiction, they are already so entrenched in their disease it can seem impossible to stop. By the time most people or their loved ones realize there is a problem a person’s situation looks futile. As addiction sets in, people start isolating from loved ones, finding no pleasure or motivation in activities they once enjoyed. An addicted person finds it increasingly difficult to manage their day to day responsibilities, often not showing up when they’re supposed to for work, school, family and community. Shame and guilt become a daily reality, relieved only by more substance use.
- What once worked to relax, sleep, or have fun no longer works, or requires more and more to achieve the same effect, and a person often finds themselves doing things they would never imagine doing in order to maintain their drug or alcohol habit.
- Dignity and self-respect erodes.
- Physical health issues start to occur as the body is so inundated with the drug that it can no longer self regulate; withdrawals and DTs occur more frequently, sleep is severely disrupted, and a person is often physically sick, shaking, vomiting, irritable and emotionally explosive or depressed.
- Addiction crowds out the realization that there is any other way to live life, cope with responsibilities, stress, or problems, or even enjoy oneself naturally.
- Substance use becomes the only way to deal with anything, even and especially when that person wants to stop.
“I’m Living a Life I Could Have Never Imagined.”
A life of recovery can be rich beyond the imagination. Learning to feel again, to take pleasure in simple activities, to wake up and feel healthy and rested in the morning. To be free of that constant, relentless mental obsession, allows the the mind and heart to relax and open up to the world around you. Human connections and relationships become important again, and a profound shift occurs in the person when the people around them start to trust them again. A person can take action and participate in activities that build a sense of dignity and self-respect rather than shame and self-hatred. The mind and body can heal, and the once-addicted person is capable of change.
With commitment to recovery, a person is finally able to live a life full of all the potential they are capable of, all the potential they could never imagine before.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to enter treatment with this commitment already in place. As addiction is a gradual process, so is recovery. With time and persistence, and the recognition that you are human and will make mistakes and that’s okay, that’s how a person learns what works and what doesn’t work, the promises and the rewards of recovery will grow and deepen, and you will pursue it as passionately as you once pursued drugs and alcohol. Today, you can do something different.