Do you know that more than 100,000 people lose their lives every year because of alcohol dependence and drug addiction?
Drug addiction has become a serious issue in the United States. The alarming rise in the number of people, including both youngsters and adults, who are becoming drug dependent, especially with opioids, calls for immediate, widespread and effective measures to be taken across the country in order to overcome this issue before it gets out of control.
But, as they say, there is always a little ray of sunshine even in the darkest night. The good news is that addiction is not incurable. Thanks to medical science, there are multiple treatment options available to help drug addicts overcome their disease.
Yes, addiction is a disease, in fact a chronic one!
As per the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry“.
This explanation has noted that addiction is a chronic disease due to which a person could not hold himself away from substance abuse. The disease causes a lack of control in the patient due to which he/she could not stop drug usage.
Like all other chronic diseases, addiction also affects a person in various ways. Not only does it negatively affects a patient’s physical health, but also leads to various emotional, biological, social and behavioral issues. Thus, recovering from addiction is a long and difficult process that needs a lot of determination, commitment, motivation, support and professional help.
Denial – The Greatest Hindrance in Addiction Recovery
The first and the greatest obstruction in the process of addiction recovery is the State of Denial.
Since the majority of addicts do not consider addiction as a problem, they do not look for solutions. What makes this situation even worse is the fact that when others try to convince them to abandon their drug habit or to seek help, they contrarily look for ways to justify their dependency.
Even after addiction patients realize that they have a problem that needs to be properly addressed, there is an uneasiness that can hold them back from getting medical help. These include:
Fear of Abandonment
A lot of people refrain from openly accepting their addiction problem because they have a fear of being rejected by their loved ones and by society at large. This also highlights one of biggest problems of the society we live in. Rather than encouraging addicts to face their problem and supporting them, a majority of people abandon them. This apprehension of abandonment and rejection is one of the greatest challenges in addiction recovery.
Fear of Failure
Not only addicts, but many of us experience a fear of failure at some point in our lives. Whether it be in the workplace, within the family unit or under pressure to be successful in a sport, it is normal for us to be apprehensive at some point in our lives, particularly when a situation demands us to leave our comfort zone. The problem begins when we allow this trepidation to overpower our decision making ability, which subsequently prevents us from pursuing a constructive effort to achieve our goals. This fear then leads to self-doubt.
How do you overcome this fear? Be cognizant of how our emotions may override our reasoning.
Fear of the New Life
The fear of new life starts dominating a patient of addiction when he/ she is being told (or realizes himself/ herself) that in successful recovery demands them to make some tough decisions in their lives. These may include cutting off relationship with their close friends, some family members, neighbors (in case they are also addict or in any way negatively affects their recovery process), quitting an old job, relocation etc.
How to Overcome Fears?
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
– Nelson Mandela
The success lies in facing your fears rather than running from them. This applies to the fears that hinder the addiction recovery process. A great way to gain the strength to face your fears is to surround yourself with positive and supportive people who not only help you in realizing your problem, but also push and support you to seek help to overcome the problem. Once you realize that you have a problem of substance abuse or drug addiction, do not be afraid of accepting it. After acceptance, comes the phase of searching for the solutions. Find out the treatment options available to you and seek professional help as soon as possible. The earlier you start the treatment, the easier and shorter recovery process would be for you.
Preventing Relapse and Staying Sober
This is another huge challenge that drug addicts face during the later stage of recovery process. While it is true that a lot of people do relapse after coming out of a rehabilitation center, it is also an undeniable reality that a large number do completely recover from addiction disease.
According to a survey conducted in 2012, around 23.5 million adults were seeking treatment and hence, recovering from addiction and substance abuse. Keeping in view the increase in governments’ efforts (both at federal and state level) to counter drug addiction, advancements in medical science that have provided us with several new ways to deal with the problem, increase in the numbers of treatment facilities, easy accessibility, and efforts to increase awareness among the population, it can be easily said that the figure must have significantly increased.
According to research studies, 60% of people who struggle with substance abuse and 90% of people who are trying to overcome alcohol addiction relapse after coming out of treatment facilities.
While completing the treatment program at a rehabilitation centre is a great achievement on its own, it is only a phase in the long process of addiction recovery. Therefore, efforts need to be continued during the transitioning phase i.e. returning to normal life after coming out of a treatment facility.
While the post-rehab phase proves to be much more difficult than the rehab phase for most of the people because of the absence of support system and the presence of various triggers, complete recovery is not impossible.
Take following measures to make sure you do not lose the gains made at the rehab and to eliminate the chances of relapse:
- Consider living at a half-way house
- Continue attending counseling sessions or take regular refresher courses
- Join support groups to avoid depression and anxiety, to express and to learn from others’ experiences
- Cut off all negative energy from your life
- Adopt positive and healthy habits, and surround yourself with supportive people to stay motivated and focused
- Do not reverse the lifestyle changes you brought during the rehab period
- Avoid emotional triggers by ensuring that you prevent yourself from experiencing the feelings of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tiredness; called HALT by the professionals.
A lot of people assume that there is no need to continue the efforts for staying away from drugs and for preventing relapse once they come out of the treatment facility. However, according to both professionals and statistics, they are wrong.
National Institute of Drug Abuse stated that out of every 3 people, 2 relapse during the 6 months in post-rehab period. This tells us how long a patient needs to continue the efforts for staying sober. Addiction recovery is a really long journey.
Remember the old adage – slow and steady wins the race?
While addiction recovery is not a race, this adage applies here as well. One needs to be slow but, steady to reach his/her destination.