Did you know that addiction is actually a brain disease? When an individual is addicted to a substance or situation, their brain develops an uncontrollable desire to consume the source of addiction, regardless whether or not they or their loved ones are put at harm’s risk. And yes, people do change themselves completely because of addiction.
No one expects to become addicted in the first place. Unfortunately, a person can suffer from the inability to stop engaging in the addicting activity – even if they wish to do so. Addiction is complex in that way, providing someone with a sense of unbelievable euphoria that nothing else in this world can offer. Examples of addiction include drugs, sex, food, shopping, and technology addiction (which is severely prominent today; it almost compares to the severity of drug addiction’s escapism).
Addiction is kick started by a multitude of factors: traumatizing situations, mental health conditions, a lack of happiness, overwhelming sadness, loss, and even boredom. Not only is the euphoria from addiction infectious, it can become a means of escape, or an unhealthy coping mechanism. However, addiction is preventative and can be overcome.
If you find yourself in the beginning stages of addiction, want to overcome a current addiction, or want to help a loved one, here’s how to combat it:
Reach out to a loved one AND support group.
Acknowledging an addiction is the hardest step. However, asking for help is the most significant and vital step – because with help, one always has a solid foundation of support to fall back on. Additionally, members of a support group share similar experiences with one another, making it a very inclusive and accepting community.
Seek out the support of a therapist and psychiatrist.
Therapists and psychiatrists are advocates of your mental health – therefore, speaking to them will only benefit and help you. They can offer advice and help coach a person through the difficult steps of recovery. Taking the initiative to speak with therapists and psychiatrists also holds one accountable for the obstacles that need to be overcome. It isn’t just talking the talk – you need to walk the walk to have a successful recovery!
Find a sober companion.
Similar to how a personal trainer can help a person achieve their fitness goals, a sober companion can help one achieve their recovery goals. A sober companion (or recovery coach) is sent home with an addicted person to help them adjust to life without their source of addiction. Relapse is common when attempting to overcome addiction, but a sober companion provides physical guidance and advice, and can assist with outpatient rehabilitation therapy. Depending on the preference of a recovering addict, a sober companion can even live with a recovering addict to help develop healthier management methods.
Reach your short and long-term goals.
Achieving a goal is a great way to improve one’s self-esteem and confidence. Making a list of goals that are not necessarily about staying clean is a great way to improve the self-confidence and self-compassion of a person in recovery. Examples of goals may include rebuilding relationships with distant loved ones, applying to a job, or investing time into an old hobby. Think of every goal as a tiny finish line that ultimately leads to the biggest one: overcoming addiction!
Figure out the best management techniques for you.
Everyone has different coping mechanisms. Some people can cut off a connection to their addicted source all-together and distract themselves with alternative things, while others require the constant presence of a sober companion that alleviates their stress with advice. Finding what works and does not work for a patient in recovery will take time, but it is time well spent. The coping and management techniques a person takes away from their recovery process will translate into how they will handle life after sobriety.
Reward yourself with the moments and things that come from a non-addicted lifestyle.
There is always more to life than our addictions and wrongdoings, even if we somehow convince ourselves there’s nothing afterwards. We all have early morning sunrises to watch, best friends to create hilarious memories with, profound places to travel to, and hobbies to enjoy. Last, and certainly not least: you get to live the life you want and deserve. The light at the end of addiction’s tunnel is taking control of happiness and being able to move forward once again.
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over five years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.