If you’ve ever been an addict, you’ll know that detoxing and being rid of your physical addiction is just the first step. Now you have to overcome the learned behaviors and environmental triggers that were formed during your time as an addict, and that’s a whole lot harder. Huffington Post offers some helpful advice.
Friends will either help and support you, easing your path to recovery, or they will be stumbling blocks. Ask yourself whether the presence of a certain friend aggravates cravings, or whether he or she is helpful and supportive. Sadly, we sometimes have to give up old friends because our recovery requires us to grow apart from them. Who should we avoid?
- Those who present an obstacle to recovery.
- Those who pressurize us to return to our old ways.
- Those who don’t care about our personal goals and growth.
Acknowledge past mistakes
When we are suffering from an addiction, little else matters to us. During this period of our lives, we may have hurt or upset other people. The past can’t be changed, but we do have control over the present. Many people will be willing to forgive, if not forget if we at least acknowledge our errors.
If talking about the past and the pain you feel at having hurt others through your past actions is difficult, consider writing a letter explaining your feelings and taking ownership of your actions. It may be the first step towards rebuilding a broken relationship with someone who was once close to you.
Get your career back on track
This might seem like a tall order, especially if we have previously hurt our careers because of our addiction by being fired from a job or committing a criminal offense, but although it can be difficult, fresh starts are possible. Not only does rebuilding a career improve our self-esteem, it also provides a distraction that can keep our minds off the events of the past and the difficulties and cravings of the present. On appositive note, you now have an opportunity to start a whole new career if you want to!
Organizations like Career One Stop, the American Job Center and the United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration can help you to identify opportunities you may want to explore. An apprenticeship program allows you to get paid while you learn, and gives you an opportunity to prove your reliability.
Make a difference
Volunteer work can inspire you and help others. Be open about your past, and try to help others to avoid making the mistakes you once made. By becoming something of a role model, you will reinforce the importance of staying on the straight and narrow in your own mind. Others are relying on you, and even if you should relapse, knowing this may get you back on track a lot sooner.
Cravings and temptations get weaker over time
Recovery is a one day at a time process, and some days will be really tough. Depression, mood swings and cravings may make you wonder if you really want to live your life like this, but science tells us that in time, these uncomfortable remainders of our addiction will fade.
Have a supportive friend on speed dial, and hit the call button when things feel like they’re getting too tough to handle alone. Here’s some encouraging news that came from an eight-year-long study of recovering addicts:
- If you can stay straight for a year, you have a 33% chance of staying that way.
- Temporary relapses are 50% less likely after a year of sobriety.
- You have less than 15% chance of relapse if you stay straight for five years.
12-step programs – if you think they can help you
The one thing in the Huffington Post article that may be questionable, is advice to join a 12-step program. Although they are helpful to some, others may find that they even trigger cravings, and experts have already slammed 12-step programs as being “unscientific”.
As evidence of this, the AA claims that some people are so deeply flawed that they are unable to recover. This is absolutely untrue. Addiction is not caused by personal “flaws”, as much as it is caused by circumstance, and even the worst circumstances can be overcome.
We conclude that 12-step programs can be helpful, but you will have to see for yourself whether they are right for you, and you should be aware that the philosophies governing such programs should be taken with a pinch of skepticism.
There are indications that one on one therapy with a trained counsellor will be far more helpful than 12-step programs, so whether you feel equal to joining the AA or not, consider remaining in therapy with a trained counsellor.