Ending addiction

Ending addiction

in almost every aspect of life (not just addiction) is that if you set your expectations too high and then fail, the path downward is long and hard.

In almost every aspect of life (not just addiction) is that if you set your expectations too high and then fail, the path downward is long and hard.

by Alan Charles — 

As a recovering addict, I am often asked what advice I have for other addicts, loved ones of addicts or people in the recreational stage of drug use. Here are my top three suggestions:

1. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Help is often one of the hardest things to ask for. Many people are frightened to admit that they are powerless or vulnerable or afraid, often worrying that they will be told to help themselves or just “get over it.”

I went to therapy early on and, although it did not help me right away, it was the most impactful thing I did; without it, I would not have survived. The therapeutic process is not without its own pain; a good therapist will dig down deep and uncover the raw parts of your past, delving into things long-since buried.

Interestingly, the process truly leads you to a place of understanding, acceptance and separation from the control of the pain that probably started at a young age. Coming out the other side, you learn how to take control of your life, work on a process to stop self-medicating and ultimately learn how to identify yourself. So, do not be afraid to ask for and get help. I wish I had done it at a much younger age. Thankfully, it saved my life.

2. Work a program. If you accept that you need help, you must also accept that others have gone before you who have perfected a methodology that effectively deals with this type of problem.

Whether it is Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous (or Al-Anon if you are a family member or friend of someone who is addicted), a program helps the addict deal with all levels of their addiction, including the emotional aspects of life that may have precipitated the drug use. Working the program, including having a sponsor to check in on you, is a lifeline without which it is difficult to get sober. Trying to accomplish sobriety on your own is almost impossible. Do not set yourself up for failure. Work a program. Grab the lifeline.

3. Set small goals. One thing I have noticed in almost every aspect of life (not just addiction) is that if you set your expectations too high and then fail, the path downward is long and hard. Anyone who is sober will tell you that it takes one day at a time. As cliché as that sounds, it could not be a truer statement.

Each day that you are sober is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. So set your goal of sobriety at one day. Congratulate yourself. Recognize that you did it. Put it behind you and then do it again tomorrow. The days add up. I am eight years sober, having set small goals, one day at a time.

 

Alan Charles is the author of Walking Out the Other Side: An Addict’s Journey from Loneliness to Life. He speaks around the world hoping that his story will help people realize that it is possible to survive no matter how much control the addiction currently has. walkingouttheotherside.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 35, Number 1, February/March 2016.

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