Developing a substance abuse disorder is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. To overcome the problem, you need more than willpower. Long-term use of alcohol and illicit or certain prescription drugs can cause changes in the brain, leading to intense cravings and a compulsive desire to use. This can make sobriety seem like a tall order. However, it is never too late to start your recovery journey, no matter how bad your addiction seems. Even for those whose previous attempts at recovery have been unsuccessful, Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA offers treatment and support that work.
7 Reasons to Seek Help
1. Freedom From Physical Dependency
Once you develop a substance abuse disorder, your body grows accustomed to functioning with alcohol or drugs. When you stop using, your body reacts with upsetting effects. These effects are also known as withdrawal symptoms. Since they are unpleasant and cause a lot of discomfort, many people prefer to keep using to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
This creates a vicious cycle of physical dependency and substance abuse. Sobriety breaks this cycle, relieving you from physical dependency and the constant fear of nasty withdrawal symptoms.
2. Avoid Legal Problems
Although many people hate to admit it, drinking and using drugs leads to legal problems. The bigger your substance abuse problem, the more likely you are to be at loggerheads with law enforcement agencies. This includes arrests, fines, and other legal consequences.
One of the most common legal consequences of alcohol and drug abuse is DUIs. In 2017 alone, there were 34.2 million cases of DUI in the United States, and over 100 million Americans admit to at least one episode of driving under the influence every year in self-report surveys.
Besides legal problems, driving under the influence puts you and other road users at grave risk. In 2016, drunk driving killed over 10 thousand people. Sobriety can help you avoid legal problems. It can also save lives.
3. Improved Emotional and Physical Health
Continous substance abuse interferes with your emotional and physical health. Overcoming this problem helps you to unmask your emotions. It also saves you from a wide variety of health complications associated with substance abuse, such as lung or heart disease, cancer, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and mental disorders.
Once you are sober, you can restore your body and even improve upon it by adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Additionally, since there are no drugs or alcohol in your system to alter your mood and emotions, you enjoy improved emotional health.
4. Improved Finances
Addiction is an expensive habit. Some of the most amazing fall-from-grace stories involve some form of uncontrollable substance abuse. You can easily blow all your money away on alcohol and drugs. Constant cravings and the compulsive urge to use can make you spend more money on alcohol or drugs than you intended to.
Sobriety saves you from making the poor financial decisions that are often associated with alcoholism and drug abuse. This allows you to focus your financial resources on more meaningful causes.
5. Achieve Personal Goals
Although some people with an addiction problem, especially those struggling with drinking, are functional alcoholics (have healthy relationships, hold high-level jobs, and continue with their education), others are not as lucky. Even functional addicts still suffer from the adverse health effects of continued substance use.
Alcohol and drug abuse can play a crucial role in self-sabotage. Addiction can prevent you from realizing your full potential. It can stop you from excelling at work, school, sports, arts, or other personal interests.
6. Be a Better Parent
Some of the people that are most affected by addiction are the user’s loved ones. Children perhaps bare the biggest burden of the problem. Children whose parents struggle with addiction are likely to perform poorly in school, suffer from poor health, engage in unlawful activities, and become addicts later in life.
Once you overcome your addiction, you can get actively involved in your child’s life, offering them guidance and protection as they grow up. You can also help them heal from any trauma they may have experienced.
7. Develop New Relationships
Beyond your loved ones and close friends, very few other people want to be involved with a person struggling with substance abuse. To develop and maintain meaningful, long-term professional and romantic relationships, you have to overcome your addiction problem. Sobriety enables you to open up and communicate better with your partner colleagues, classmates, or neighbors. These relationships might eventually help you increase your network of support.
Substance Abuse Treatment
The first step towards recovery is recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change. You may feel uncertain about your readiness to start your recovery journey. It might even be more challenging if you are addicted to a prescription drug, especially if it is a treatment for a condition you have.
Committing to sobriety requires you to make some changes in your life. These changes include:
- The way you deal with stress
- What you do in your free time
- How you think about yourself
- Who you allow in your life
- The prescription and over-the-counter medications you take
To prepare for addiction recovery, you need to:
- Remind yourself why you want to seek treatment
- Think about your previous attempts at recovery (what worked and what didn’t)
- Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals
- Remove reminders and triggers of your addiction
- Tell friends and family that you’re committing to recovery and ask for their support
Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the addiction. However, a typical program often involves:
Detox helps to purge your body of alcohol or drugs in a safe and secure medical setup. If you prefer an outpatient arrangement, the doctor might prescribe medication to help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. They will also require you to make daily visits to monitor your progress.
Individual, group, or family therapy help you to get to the bottom of your addiction problem. Therapy also equips you with the necessary tools to help you repair your relationships. Additionally, during behavior counseling, you learn healthier coping skills.
The medication enables you to handle harsh withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, or treat any co-occurring mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
To help you stay sober and prevent a relapse, most programs include a long-term follow-up service. This service might involve attending regular in-person support groups or online meetings to help you stay sober.
Stay on Top of Your Recovery Journey
Completing addiction treatment is not the end of your recovery journey. You still need to adopt and maintain new and healthier habits. Here are a few tips to help you on your recovery journey:
You are more likely to think about drinking or using drugs when you are idle. To keep such thoughts away, find a hobby or a project to keep you busy.
Sweat It Out
Spare at least 30 minutes daily for exercise. Research shows that exercise reduces stress, boosts mood, improves sleep, and offers relief from mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety. Exercising does not necessarily mean weight lifting or other intense workouts. While these are good for you, you can still enjoy the benefits mentioned above from a simple brisk walk.
Avoid Toxic Relationships
To stay sober, you have to cut off friends and other people, especially those that drink or abuse drugs. Surround yourself with sober people who support your sobriety. While this might mean losing some friends you have known for a long time, it will keep you from falling back to old, destructive habits.
Avoid Bars and Clubs
Stay away from bars and clubs. Consumption of alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, increasing the risk of relapse. The compulsive urge to use might be overpowering in such setups where drugs or alcohol are readily available.
Utilize Support Systems
Your support network might include friends, family, support group members, colleagues, therapists, or sponsors. Speaking out, even when it is uncomfortable, allows you to conceptualize what you are feeling or going through. It also allows you to take responsibility for your recovery journey.
Joining and actively participating in a recovery community helps you to develop a relationship with people who precisely know and understand what you are going through. Additionally, a support network also celebrates with you whenever you reach a specific milestone in your recovery journey.
Many people relapse while trying to deal with stress. Stress can be caused by negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, or trauma. It can also be caused by physical discomfort, including pain and withdrawal symptoms.
Conflict with a friend or your loved ones can also stress you. While some level of stress is unavoidable, there are some causes of stress you can avoid. Stay away from people or situations that regularly give you anxiety and other forms of negative energy.
Adopt a Pet
Studies show that a fluffy or furry companion can help reduce anxiety, stress, and loneliness in a healthy way. Besides keeping you company, emotional support animals can help lower your blood pressure and boost the production of your feel-good hormones with their calming nature. Additionally, keeping a pet gives you extra responsibility, which can help motivate you to stay sober.
Practice Positive Self Talk
Instead of focusing on perceived failures, celebrate the milestones you have reached. Deciding to make a change in your life is already a big step. You have done what millions wish they could. Therefore, when you feel the urge to criticize yourself, beat yourself up over past mistakes, or quiet negative emotions with alcohol or drugs, choose positive self-talk.
Remember how far you have come. Remember and be proud of any other moments in your recovery journey when you overcame the temptation to give up.
One of the best ways to sustain your recovery journey is to give yourself a purpose that keeps you sober. Investing in others can be a fulfilling and rewarding purpose. Spend your time and talent on a cause you believe in. You can also share your story and experiences with others who are just beginning their recovery journey.
Common triggers include:
- Negative emotional state
- Positive emotional state (feeling good, which makes you want to feel even better)
- Social pressure
- Strong temptation or urge to use
- Physical discomfort
- Trying to test your self-control
Make a Choice
The first step to overcome addiction is to recognize and admit you have a problem. The second step is to decide to change. Once you choose sobriety, seek professional assistance to help you treat addiction. To benefit from substance abuse treatment and support, contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA!