Addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, nicotine, sex or other substances and behaviors is a form of bondage holding its prisoner’s mind and body hostage. Recovery is the addict’s answer to a personal cry for help and a manifestation of his or her will to break the chains of addiction. After losing their sense of direction and finding themselves psychologically-shipwrecked somewhere along life’s shores, substance abusers must learn to ask for help. They must then be ready and willing to follow a structured, progressive plan for addiction recovery. By exercising willpower and demonstrating the courage to confront the truth as well as the discipline to complete a methodical recovery program, addicts improve their prospects for a healthy, balanced, and meaningful life. While the road to recovery may be long and winding for some chemically-dependent individuals, the destination of sobriety and clean living is within reach for all addicts. Through self-healing, sober-minded individuals can also heal their relationship to society and loved ones. Regardless of which substance abuse or drug recovery program the addict chooses to initiate a long-term cure, the cornerstone of success is his or her admission of a problem.
Any genuine recovery process consists of a number of critical steps including the following:
1. Overcoming denial
The first step in addiction recovery involves the surrender of denial and the honest admission by which addicts admit, either to themselves and/or to others, that they have a substance abuse problem. It is imperative that individuals who seek to be sober realize and accept the necessity to change addictive patterns of behavior.
2. Seeking help
There are numerous avenues for obtaining support and guidance, such as a 12-step program, a drug & alcohol rehabilitation program (including our Treatment4Addiction Center), and individual counseling.
3. Completing a detoxification program
The next step involves checking into a detox rehabilitation center for the purpose of ensuring a safe and thorough withdrawal from the substance in question.
4. Entering and engaging in addiction recovery program
The addict may need to continue treatment in a residential, outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation center, depending on his or her overall temperament and age, as well as the duration and severity of his or her addiction.
5. Maintaining sobriety
For many recovering substance abusers, staying sober is a lifelong process. To help them cope with personal issues and keep them on the right track, they may choose to avail themselves of the following types of aid: (1) a 12 step program or alternative 12-step program, (2) psychological support and transportation from friends and family, (3) employee assistance, (4) individual or group therapy; (5) legal assistance, and/or (6) medical and psychological services. Some addicts choose to help others through advocacy and activism, as well as through non-profit organizations.
Many studies have shown that permanent abstinence is achieved by nearly one-third of addicts from their initial recovery-geared efforts. Another one-third achieves lasting abstinence after a few short-lived relapse episodes. The last third undergoes chronic relapses that ultimately lead to death as a result of chemical dependency. Since relapse is a probability for some and a certainty for others, prevention strategies are primordial in that they serve a useful purpose. The key is to recognize and manage the warning signs before they degenerate into a using incident. Through relapse prevention therapy, addicts learn to become cognizant of the symptoms and triggers that tempt them back to their substance of choice. Common triggers include associating with other substance abusers, entering a bar, looking at a particular photograph, or smelling a certain odor.
To ensure progress along the path to sobriety, addicts should (1) choose healthy and positive substitutes for their problematic substance, (2) form a wholesome support group, and (3) avoid or reduce contact with enablers and toxic individuals. The substitutes chosen to replace the object of craving will vary from one addict to the next. Addicts are also encouraged to take stock of the consequences of relapse and may receive training in thought-stopping. Some effective strategies for preventing or derailing relapse and refocusing energy on a constructive activity include the following:
- Channeling self-destructive energy into yoga, meditation, and exercise
- Consuming products containing sugar or caffeine
- Engaging in religious activities and prayer
- Working in the yard
- Speaking to a friend, therapist or sponsor when ‘permission thoughts’ emerge
- Strengthening communication and interpersonal skills with the help of a therapist
- Seeking individual or group counseling
- Joining support groups or a 12 step recovery group such as Alcoholics Anonymous
A wide range of addiction recovery programs is available for individuals coping with substance abuse problems or compulsive or dysfunctional behaviors. Some of the most beneficial programs are as follows:
12 step program
The vast majority of drug and alcohol rehab centers throughout the U.S. integrate portions of the 12 step program into their therapeutic modules. Initially intended for alcoholics in recovery (Alcoholics Anonymous), this program has since become the foundation for other 12 step recovery groups such as (1) Narcotics Anonymous, (2) Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, (3) Pills Anonymous (for prescription pill addicts), (4) Marijuana Anonymous, (5) Gamblers Anonymous, (6) Cocaine Anonymous, (7) Methadone Anonymous, and 6) Nicotine Addiction Anonymous. The 12-step program centers on spiritual awakening principles that involve replacing egocentrism with moral awareness, selfless constructive behavior, and altruism. Some of the precepts incorporated into the 12 steps are as follows:
- Recognizing the presence of a Higher power
- Reaching out to other addicts
- Living a new life by adopting a new behavioral cod
- Making amends for past behavior
- Analyzing substance abuse transgressions with a sponsor’s help
Alternative treatment programs
Addicts may instead opt for an alternative treatment program, whether religious-based, secular, or online. Some of these programs adhere to the belief that drug and alcohol addiction is not a disease, and that addicts are not powerless over substance abuse. Individuals may choose from an extensive array of alternative programs, such as:
- Meditation, Tai Chi, and yoga training
- Holistic therapy
- Alternative medicine
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Life skills training
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Self-esteem boosting skills
- Support Groups
- Motivation therapy
Addicts may consult a wellness coach for guidance and recommendations concerning (1) management of health risks, (2) stress reduction, (3) fitness, (4) weight management, and (5) nutrition.
Self help measures are also available to sobriety-minded individuals, and these include:
- Self help support groups
- Sobriety videos
- Books on recovery
- Online resources such as recovery events, meeting locators, articles, online blogs and journals, internet discussion groups, and message boards