I am convinced that we are as addicted to shame as we are to substances ...
The Hard Truth About Recovering From Addiction
For many people, a substance addiction was an intruder that encroached onto every aspect of their lives. Those who’ve successfully recovered from an addiction worked hard to understand what led them to substance abuse, and how they could keep the addiction from invading their lives again.
Sadly, there are several myths and misconceptions that surround addiction and keep many who suffer from telling others about what they’re going through. One struggle includes the social stigma that often surrounds addiction. People often hesitate to tell their families and friends for fear of being criticized or abandoned.
The best thing people can do for someone in recovery from an addiction is stand by their side during their ongoing journey.
Recovering from an addiction is difficult when done alone, even well after treatment. It’s important for people to understand what their loved one endures while being addicted. That way, families, friends and spouses can band together to help the person in recovery stick to their sobriety plan.
What People in Recovery Wish They Could Tell You
Here are the things that people in recovery wish they could tell others about their past struggles with addiction:
They didn’t choose to become addicted.
Addiction is never a person’s choice. Plenty of people develop an addiction by taking drugs prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition. Over time, prescription drugs change the way a person’s brain functions. They might continue taking the pills to feel “normal” and be able to get through the day. Before they know it, an addiction has formed and the person may begin craving higher dosages of the prescribed substance.
But an addiction doesn’t always build up over time. Many addictions are ignited by experimenting with a substance just once. Methamphetamine and hallucinogenic drugs like ecstasy are just a few of the most common examples that can cause an instant addiction. Just one dose of these drugs can kickstart a destructive pattern of abuse.
Addiction can happen to anyone at any time.
Television and films over the years have depicted people with addictions in a negative way. But the truth is that anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol regardless of their background, age or financial status.
Research has shown a number of contributing factors that make some people more likely to become addicted. For example, if they started using drugs or consuming alcohol at a young age, they’re more susceptible to developing an addiction later in life. Having a family member with a drug or alcohol abuse problem also increases the likelihood of addiction.
There might be more than one reason why they began abusing drugs or alcohol in the first place.
There’s rarely one single reason why a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Oftentimes, a person abuses substances to suppress any stressful or anxious feelings they have. These feelings that drive people to substance abuse might stem from persistent issues in family relationships or a mental illness. In fact, many people who go to rehab for an addiction also receive treatment for a co-occurring mental condition like depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Luckily, today’s rehabs are equipped to help people address all types of root causes of their substance abuse. Rather than focus on the addiction alone, treatment centers employ comprehensive, individualized programs that treat the whole person. This ensures the best chances of achieving a full recovery.
Don’t bring up the past while they’re rebuilding their future.
Making the decision to go to rehab is one of the toughest choices a person can make. It takes a tremendous amount of strength and self-actualization to do this – especially for a person suffering from an addiction.
Dwelling on the past and reliving past mistakes is counterproductive for someone in recovery from an addiction. They’re in a highly vulnerable state of mind, so it’s far better for them to stay focused on the new, healthy life they’re paving for themselves at this time. The best thing you can do is be there for the person in recovery and encourage them every step of the way.
They never wanted to hurt or disappoint you.
When a person begins to rely on drugs or alcohol, they’re not aware of the expansive repercussions that could result from their substance use. They started abusing substances to feel better or different, but they never did it with the intention of hurting other people around them.
Sadly, it’s all too common for a person’s family, friends and spouses to be affected by their addiction. The people around the person addicted to substances might experience their explosive temperament, erratic behavior or other effects from their substance abuse. Many rehabs and support groups offer family therapy as a part of a person’s recovery to help mend and strengthen relationships after they’ve been damaged by the addiction.
They were still “them” underneath their addiction.
An addiction is a powerful disease that puts a person’s body through physical and mental turmoil. It changes a person’s brain by disturbing their normal hierarchy of needs and desires. The things that a person once enjoyed doing become secondary to obtaining and using drugs or alcohol.
Despite the addiction, your loved one was still the same person. The only difference was that they were sick and needed your help overcoming their addiction. During and after treatment, their true self begins to shine through once again.
They need your support now and always.
Millions of people need, but do not receive, treatment for an addiction every single year. This shows that addiction is a pervasive problem that’s often ignored. But with your encouragement and support, your loved one’s lifelong recovery journey is easier than they once thought possible.
Supporting A Loved One During Their Recovery
Here are some ways you can support someone during their recovery:
Set an example.
Show how maintaining recovery is possible by establishing positive habits like cooking healthy foods or exercising.
Create a substance-free environment.
Don’t allow temptations or triggers in your home.
Listen to them.
Sometimes, all a person in recovery needs is someone to talk to.
Attend support groups with them.
It gives the person in recovery a boost of motivation when they know there’s people on their side.
Recovery takes time, discipline and commitment.
Know the signs of relapse.
Relapse can happen, and it’s important to know what to look out for. If a person in recovery seems to be falling back into old habits, get help immediately.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, it’s time to get the help you need. Contact a dedicated treatment specialist today to learn how recovery is more achievable than ever before.
For some people, getting treatment for their addiction felt like hitting rock bottom. But instead, their choice to enter recovery was the bright beginning for the rest of their lives.
Sign-up for our newsletter
Vital perspectives on fighting addiction delivered straight to your inbox.