Addiction Recovery

By The Fix staff 12/13/14

Nothing about addiction recovery is easy, but you can make it easier by treating yourself with the kindnesses you would typically afford a stranger.

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Addiction Recovery Begins With Loving Yourself

Everyone walks his own path, and when the journey is complicated by addiction to drugs or alcohol, it's easy to become lost along the way. Trying to navigate your path alone through a forest of self-loathing and shame is not the way to recovery and light. Self-recrimination only makes it more difficult to emerge into the sun's healing rays. Nothing about addiction recovery is easy, but you can make it easier by treating yourself with the kindnesses you would typically afford a stranger.

You must learn how to love yourself before you can stop your destructive behaviors -- to love yourself and respect yourself and to not engage in destructive, abusive thoughts aimed toward you.

Often, addiction begins with an urge to smother bad feelings. You want to feel better. You want to be numb to the problems that plague you. And for a while, your drug of choice works.

But then, what started out as an innocent attempt to make it through your day becomes an all-consuming need. It takes over the most important spot in your life, squeezing out family, friends, your job, your interests, and your ability to function without help.

And if you're like most people who find themselves in the throes of a full-blown addiction, this is where the self-hate comes in and the vicious cycle begins -- you hate the person you've become so you take more drugs to ease the pain. 

Soon, your days are spent in a tempestuous cycle of ups and downs. You'll do anything to feel better, but feeling better is expensive. By this time, you've lost your job. You've alienated your family members. You've driven away friends who care about you. Possibly, you're homeless as well as unemployed.

Yet still you partake. And you hate yourself for it. This is the time to seek help.

Letting Go of the Hate

Before healing can begin, hatred must go. Learning to be nice to yourself can be the hardest thing you've ever done, but it's necessary to recovery. Believe it or not, you can change and heal a lifetime of sad, negative thinking if you practice hard enough.

The Twelve Steps

The Twelve-Step Program used by Alcoholics Anonymous is a powerful tool in helping to alleviate the pain of self-hatred. The first and second steps are especially helpful in quelling those hateful thoughts that nag you hourly:

  1. Admit that your life is out of control and that you, alone, are powerless to fix it.
  2. Turn your out-of-control life over to your higher power.

These steps are paraphrased, but the meaning is clear: You have a problem, and you need help to fix it. Once you realize this, and admit it, the pressure to fix everything by yourself, without outside intervention, is off. You can now focus on doing what you need to do to seek help. 

Loving Yourself Enough to Stop

Author Melody Beatty who penned, "The Language of Letting Go" is a recovered addict who understands the importance of learning how to be nice to yourself. She's written an abundance of self-help books, but perhaps the one that makes the most impact on those struggling to kick addictive behaviors is "The Language of Letting Go." In it, Beatty utilizes daily meditations that teach you how to treat yourself with kindness. Once you learn to fill your mind with loving and helpful thoughts instead of self-destructive ones, it's easier to pick yourself up after each fall. 

And anyone recovering from addiction can tell you that there will be plenty of falls along the way.

Meditations

In her books, Beatty makes several important points that people suffering from addiction must realize:

  1. You are much harder and unforgiving on yourself than you would ever be to a stranger.
  2. You must practice daily affirmations on a regular basis before they become habit.
  3. It's okay to fail. Everyone fails at something. You must stop holding yourself accountable to unrealistic expectations.
  4. You're worthy of love regardless of what you have done, where you are in your life, how bad your addiction is, and what your past was like.
  5. You are exactly where you're supposed to be at this moment in time.

It might seem silly to believe that something as simple as thinking happy thoughts can help you along your road to recovery, but any recovering addict can tell you -- it's vital to moving forward in the process.

Meditations are a powerful tool that open you up to thoughts you may have never before experienced:

  • Self-love
  • Self-tolerance
  • Knowing that who you are is good enough
  • Knowing that sometimes in order to see the answer, you have to forget the question

All of these are motivators to help you learn to care for and about yourself -- vital components of addiction recovery.

Seeking Professional Help

Sadly, it's difficult to get to the point where you honestly begin to love and value yourself without the help of professional intervention. An addiction rehab center will help you arrive, but first you must admit that you have a problem and that you need help fixing it.

Addiction Rehab

Addiction rehab consists of checking yourself in, either as an inpatient or an outpatient, to receive the benefits of detox and counseling. Depending upon the severity of your addiction, your treatment may last up to several months. Once your detox is complete, however, your real journey of learning to love and value yourself is only beginning. 

Recovering from addiction is a lifelong journey that takes much support and acceptance, both by you and by those with whom you surround yourself. It means treating yourself kindly and not expecting more from yourself than you would from anyone else. 

A good addiction recovery center will address your aftercare as well as your detox. They'll have counselors ready to assist you if an emergency occurs. They'll give you the tools you need to keep caring for yourself once you've checked out of the program.

Finding the Right Rehab Center

Checking yourself into the rehab center that's right for you is a part of learning to care for yourself. Do enough homework to know how affordable the center is, how well-trained the staff is, and what sort of guarantees they offer pertaining to results. 

Where to Look

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can help you locate reputable facilities near you. Talk with your doctor before entering into any treatment program. He will help you decide whether you need intense, focused care or just something as simple as counseling to help you maintain a drug-free lifestyle.

Drug and alcohol addiction are difficult habits to break, but there's no need for these albatrosses to plague you all your life. Realize that you have an addiction and actively seek help - that's all you need to do. Your rehab center will take over from this point and teach you the skills you need to survive in a new and foreign drug-free environment.

Owning Your Aftercare

Support is the name of the game in aftercare as it pertains to addiction. If you don't have supportive friends and family in your life, it's vital that you cultivate some. Go to meetings. Participate. Ask for a sponsor or a mentor to help you when times get rough. Talk your troubles through instead of turning to chemical means to heal the hurt. Learning to communicate effectively is a foreign trait for some, but it's one you must master if you hope to kick a drug or alcohol habit.

The Definition of Aftercare

Aftercare means learning how to take care of yourself in a world full of temptations. It means finding other, less-destructive paths through the debris that life sometimes leaves in its wake. Aftercare is all about loving yourself and treating yourself with enough respect to find other answers.

You must find your own path and discover which techniques work best for you during your journey, but if you're dedicated to your outcome and kind and respectful of your own thoughts and feelings, recovery will come in time. You can make it easier by surrounding yourself with people and programs that are especially supportive, by working your particular program to its best advantage, and by staying straight and true to the path that's before you. This means not beating yourself when you stumble and fall, and not filling your mind with negative and self-deprecating thoughts.

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