Studies show that almost 21 million Americans are dealing with addiction; however, only 10% of them seek treatment. Contrary to what many people think, addiction isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a condition that takes a lot of willpower to overcome.
Addiction leads to chemical changes in the brain that can create an intense craving and compulsion to consume substances or exhibit certain behaviors, making sobriety seem impossible. However, recovering from an addiction isn’t impossible if you have a guide to help you navigate the process.
The first step to full recovery is to realize you have a problem. After that, you need to understand that healing requires time and motivation; you must commit to change. In this article, we’ll walk you through all you need to know to navigate the recovery process.
Why Recovering From Addiction is Difficult
Despite the negative consequences that come with addiction, people continue to ingest harmful substances or engage in addictive practices. Why?
Addiction alters how the brain’s reward system works. It creates a desire for specific experiences and substances. In addition, the brain’s reward system affects your judgment and impulse control. Overall, this makes recovering from addiction even more challenging.
However, despite the recovery process being difficult, addiction is treatable. With the right resources and approach, you can easily overcome the mental and physical challenges you would have to face during recovery.
How To Navigate the Recovery Process
Below, we’ve broken down the steps to help you navigate the recovery process. These actions will help to prevent relapse in your addiction recovery journey.
Make the Decision to Change
One of the first steps to take is the decision to change. When you realize that you need to change, it means you’ve identified a problem and are willing to address it.
Sometimes, deciding to change or determining what the recovery process will look like takes time. This phase of your recovery is known as the contemplation stage. It involves thinking about whether you want to change and how to change.
When you decide to change, you also have to set goals. However, do not set ambitious goals that would be difficult to achieve. Ambitious goals make it easy to relapse and quit the recovery process.
Prepare to Change
After setting goals, you need to start preparing to change. To begin, track your drug use, including the times and how much you use. It will help you understand the consequences of addiction. Additionally, note the pros and cons of quitting; you can also list the benefits and costs of continuing to use drugs.
Ask yourself crucial questions like what’s preventing you from changing and what you need to transform. Now, you can start taking steps like removing addictive substances from your home. You should also remove the triggers that could easily make you return to using substances again.
There are times when changing your routine is also essential. For example, it would help you have less contact with activities and people that trigger cravings. You also have to decide the approach you would use for your recovery and find the needed resources.
Consider Treatment Options
Once you’ve decided to get help, you must determine the treatment you’re opting for. Different addiction treatments are available, and it usually depends on the drug you’re addicted to. Most successful recovery programs feature detoxification, the process of purging the body of drugs. It also includes the management of withdrawal symptoms.
You should also look for a program that includes behavioral counseling, as it will help you determine the root cause of your problem. Addiction also takes a toll on your personal relationships, and behavioral counseling can help with the repair process. It also allows you to learn healthier coping skills.
Many treatment options include medication necessary to prevent relapse and manage withdrawal symptoms. Research shows that 37.9% of 20.3 million adults with addiction also suffer from mental illnesses. So, if there are co-occurring mental health issues like anxiety and depression, medications will help treat them.
Find Social Support for Your Addiction Recovery
One mistake that most people make is trying to do it all alone. Don’t go through this route; reach out for social support. Irrespective of your treatment approach, a solid support system is crucial. The more people available for you to turn to for guidance and encouragement, the higher your chances of recovery.
You can start by leaning on family and friends; they’re an invaluable asset in the recovery process. You can find a relationship counselor if you don’t want to turn to your loved ones.
You can also join a sober social network or build one if necessary. It’s crucial to have supportive friends that will support you during the recovery process. In addition, you can volunteer, join a church, or take classes.
A recovery support group also works. Ensure you attend the meetings regularly, and spending time with people that understand what you’re going through will help you heal. It will also help you stay sober.
Learn Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
Another way to navigate the addiction recovery process is by addressing the problems that led to your drug abuse. For example, did you start taking drugs to numb strong emotions? Some people use drugs as a method of staying calm after a fight and an argument. Is it a way of unwinding after a bad day, or does it help you forget your problems?
The issue with turning to drugs as a solution to your problems is that negative feelings will come back when the effect fades. Therefore, if you want your addiction recovery process to be successful, find healthy ways to cope with stress and underlying issues.
Resolving these problems doesn’t mean you won’t experience frustration, stress, anger, shame, loneliness, or hopelessness. Unfortunately, these emotions are part of life, and finding healthy ways to address these issues when they arise is essential to your recovery process.
There are healthier routes to deal with stress. Once you learn these methods, you‘ll easily manage your problems without falling into addiction.
Build a Meaningful Substance-Free Life
Another step you can take when recovering from an addiction is building a substance-free life. Protect yourself by participating in and building interest in activities that add meaning to your life. Carry out tasks that you enjoy and also make you feel needed. Addiction will begin to lose its appeal when you participate in rewarding activities.
You can also spend time outdoors or adopt a pet. Although adopting a pet can seem more like a responsibility, caring for them will also make you feel loved.
Try to pick up a previous hobby or explore new ones. In addition, you can pay more attention to your community by volunteering or joining local clubs and groups. Finally, engage in regular exercise and develop healthy eating habits.
Keep Away From Drug Triggers
Recovering from addiction doesn’t end with becoming sober. Your brain needs ample time to recover and rebuild the connections it altered while battling addiction. Unfortunately, while you’re rebuilding, the cravings can be intense. To successfully get through the recovery process, you need to avoid the people, situations, and places that trigger the cravings.
Start by staying away from friends who are still using drugs. Instead, replace such friends with people who support your journey. Also, stay away from clubs and bars even if you don’t have an alcohol addiction. Drinking can impair judgment and result in a relapse.
You should also be clear about your use or drug history when seeking medical treatment. Finally, be cautious when using prescription drugs, especially if your addiction is to medication.
Don’t Let Relapses Stop Your Recovery Process
One mistake most people make is thinking that relapsing means the end of the recovery process. However, a relapse is a typical part of healing, and although it is quite discouraging, you can also consider it an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. After a relapse, identify the triggers and adjust the treatment process to limit such occurrences.
Some common reasons for relapse during the recovery process includes strong urges to use or trying to test your control. Additionally, a negative emotional state can lead to a relapse. Also, take note of social pressure, as it is a strong contributor.
When recovering from addiction, there’s no single route to healing. Instead, medication, lifestyle changes, support groups, etc., play a crucial role in the treatment process. Due to this, you need to find the approach that works best for you.
Addiction recovery is not a destination but a journey that requires going through life without relapsing into addictive acts. Therefore, continuous commitment is necessary, especially when feeling negative emotions.
You should always seek help when necessary. Support groups and behavioral counseling can help you stay strong when feeling intense cravings. Then, if you relapse, you can get back on the recovery path and use the experience to improve your commitment. To learn more about addiction and the recovery process, visit our online portal for all the resources you need.