How to Overcome Your Battles
with Substance Abuse

See also: Keeping Your Mind Healthy

It all started with a few beers. Or maybe it was a pill to ease your pain. You knew addiction was a possibility, but it wasn’t going to happen to you. You had everything under control. Until you didn’t.

This story plays out again and again with different characters and various substances. But here’s the thing about addiction: No one chooses that life. It’s the little choices we make every day that push us closer and closer to the point of no return.

Addiction is a disease and no one is immune.

If there was a way to tell how many drinks or pills you could handle before getting addicted, there would be no addicts. Everyone would stop before they gave their lives to addiction.

But unfortunately, no one knows when addiction will strike. Sometimes, it can even take time before an addict recognizes that they’re addicted.

If you’re currently struggling with substance abuse, know that you’re not alone and you’re not to blame.

That may be little consolation in the difficult road ahead, but there are also ways to help alleviate some of the burden to overcome your battle.

Recognizing the problem

Denial is such a large part of addiction that it’s important to take a moment to recognize that you have a problem. In this moment, try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Thinking you’re better off than someone else doesn’t help your situation at all, unless it’s motivation to steer you away from addiction.
Once you realize you need help, it can be difficult to take the next step. Change is scary, and you’re about to enter uncharted territory for you. At this point, just know that you do have what it takes and you need to be patient with yourself.

Explore treatment options

At this point, you have a reason to feel hope. You have options and you can get out of this. You’ll need to find a treatment program that you can afford or opt for a state-funded program. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, you may choose one of the following types of programs:

  • Residential – Residential addiction treatment centers are typically a good option for someone with a severe problem. In these programs, patients get round-the-clock care, counseling and treatment. If you go this route, it’s important to follow up with an outpatient or group therapy as you re-acclimatize to daily life. Some individuals may also seek specialized care, such as female inpatient rehab facilities, to address their needs and preferences during their recovery journey.

  • Day treatment – If you want to maintain your residence but still need extensive care, day treatment may be a good option. This way, you’d receive care all day and then go home at night.

  • Outpatient – Outpatient programs are designed to help recovering addicts maintain their everyday life, including work and school responsibilities. Outpatient programs work well for people who have a substance abuse problem that isn’t full-blown addiction or people who have just completed residential rehab.

  • Sober living – In a sober living home, you’ll live with recovering addicts in a safe, supportive environment. You’ll get to maintain a job and focus on sobriety.

Most treatment programs will have the following components.

  • Detoxification – You need a detox to begin healing. This is the part with physical withdrawal symptoms. It isn’t pretty, but it also isn’t permanent.
  • Behavioral counseling – You’ll need some form of therapy to help identify the root causes of drug use and repair your broken relationships.
  • Medication – Medication is common to help wean you off your drug of choice.
  • Follow-up – Regardless of your length of treatment for addiction, you’ll need follow-up visits to help keep you on track.

How to Make the Most of Rehab

As you evaluate treatment programs, you should find at least a few good options. It is important to find the right fit but remember that the program cannot make you get sober. It’s up to you to do the hard work. Here are some tips for helping you get through rehab and beyond.

Be prepared to address more than drug abuse

Getting sober is about healing your mind and body. In order to heal the addiction, you may need to heal past wounds that may have contributed to the problem. You’ll also need to make peace with the person you were as an addict and create a new, improved version of yourself moving forward.

Commitment is all on you

You can go through the motions but, if you’re not fully invested, this isn’t going to work. You may as well not waste your time. When you decide to get sober, you must be “all in.” This isn’t going to be easy and nor will it be quick. But you can take comfort in knowing that now is the best time to do this. For the most part, the longer you remain addicted, the harder it’ll be to recover.

Your treatment is unique

You may not need to check yourself into a residential rehab to get sober. If you think you can handle an outpatient program, try that first. Just be sure to be honest to avoid setting yourself up for failure.

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Further Reading from Skills You Need

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Tips for The Journey

As you go through rehab and beyond, you’ll need to maintain your commitment to a sober life. There will be difficult days, but they get fewer as time marches along.

Here are some tips for helping you through the tough moments.

  • Rely on friends and family

    Addiction can put a serious strain on familial relationships, but if you have friends and family who have remained by your side, lean on them.

  • Build a sober support network

    Sober supports are people who have been in your shoes and successfully made it through recovery. They know what you’re going through and can help.

  • Commit to group sessions

    Don’t skip your group sessions for anything. Even when you feel amazing, they are a good reminder to help keep you on track.

  • Learn healthy coping mechanisms

    Previously, you may have relied on drugs or alcohol to help you cope with stress. Find healthier coping mechanisms like meditation or exercise.

  • Avoid triggers

    Stay away from the people and places that remind you of using drugs or alcohol.

If you’re just starting out on your journey away from drugs and alcohol, there’s a long road ahead. But if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, ask someone who has done it before you. They can explain how fulfilling it is to finally live a life that’s free of substance abuse.

About the Author

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.