Before we really get into the “meat” of this article, let’s make sure that everybody is on the same page by stating a truth: addiction is a disease. It can affect anyone, regardless of where they live, how they live, or their upbringing. Rich hetero-normative caucasians are just as likely to develop addictions as economically challenged LGBTQ people of color. Moreover, your addiction is not likely your fault. It is most likely the fault of your DNA and, to a lesser extent, the manner of life in which you were raised. For example, if you grew up in a house where addiction and addictive substances were common, you are more likely to develop an addiction of your own.
What does that mean? It means that nobody writing this article is going to judge anybody reading this article. This is a safe space to sit down and learn about what to do now that you’re ready to acknowledge the fact that you are dealing with an addiction.
You Have an Addiction. Now What?
First, congratulations! Being able to admit you’re dealing with an addiction is a very hard thing to do. It is commonly referred to as the hardest step in the recovery process. Please take a moment to feel good that you’re ready to be honest with yourself and get the help you need.
Next, you’re going to need to find some help treating your addiction. The sooner you do this, the better it will be for you. Don’t wait for “rock bottom” or a “sign.” Pay attention to your feelings about your addiction (even if you don’t like them) and take some action. You’ll feel a lot better when you start to take back control of your life.
Do not try to go it alone. Community is an important part of a lasting recovery. Your first stop should be your doctor and/or a qualified therapist. These qualified professionals can evaluate you both physically and mentally and refer you to programs that are best suited to your specific addiction and your physical and mental health. It’s also worth noting that most insurers won’t cover recovery costs unless you are referred by your primary doctor.
Get Ready to Hate Yourself for a While
That sounds terrible, but hear us out. You’re in a really bad place right now and in order to recover, you’re going to have to challenge aspects of yourself that you might not have challenged before. You’re going to have to change the way you interpret and process the world. This is typically done with the help of a therapist using a technique called CBT, also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
According to the Reflections Recovery Center, an alcohol and drug rehab program in Arizona, CBT is a vital step on the road to real recovery. It’s a hard step, and one you probably won’t like very much, but trust us when we tell you: it is going to be one of the best things you do for yourself and it will help you stay sober.
Learning to Love Yourself Again
This is going to be difficult, even after Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the work you did during your initial recovery. During therapy (which you should keep doing after you leave your recovery program, fyi) you’re taught to change your thoughts and the way you deal with negative stimuli. You’re given tools to stay calm in the face of challenges and to help you stay sober when tempted. You’re given tools to help you communicate with others about the details of your addiction and recovery.
What you aren’t given is an entirely new slate. This isn’t the Dollhouse, after all. You’re going to be able to remember everything that happened and you’re going to have to face some messy feelings about yourself. The most common emotion people feel when in recovery is failure. Let’s get something straight:
You Did Not Fail
No matter what anybody tells you, your addiction and your decision to seek help for dealing with it are not failures. You’re still here. You’re doing what you need to do to stay healthy. That makes you incredibly strong and successful. And the longer you stay healthy, the better you are going to feel about these decisions. Repeat this to yourself when you feel weak or when someone tries to convince you of that weakness…and then do yourself a favor and try to find new people who won’t be so focused on trying to punish you.
Everything will get better over time. You can’t change the fact that you dealt with an addiction. All you can do is keep going, a little bit at a time. Eventually you’ll build a new normal and we’re willing to bet that you’re going to like it significantly more than your previous lifestyle.