I have worked with many clients who want to move ahead in life. Self-destructive addiction is holding them back. I do not accost them about their addictions but rather wait until they open up to me. They often find themselves with the same problems day in and day out.
We work together to make a plan for change. They realize that they need to be able to overcome their addiction and move forward with their life. It is possible to overcome substance abuse but it is going to take much hard work, and a person will need to learn how to own their actions.
I am not talking about one particular addiction. There are many substances that a person can become addicted to. For our discourse, we are going to refer to those that are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The deliberation will focus on what a person has to do to overcome their addiction to either alcohol or drugs.
There are often other factors that lead to their addiction including depression and adverse life situations that leave them feeling hopeless. A person may feel like they have nothing to live for. They may also feel that they have gotten in too deep and there is no way out. They often feel that they have no other option.
As we look at the depression through medical assistance, they are better off accepting that they have an addiction and implement a plan to overcome it.
Control or Limited:
Many of us have heard the terms “controlled drinking” and “responsible drinking.” This means that it is okay to have a drink now and then as long as things do not get out of control. It is hard for a person to determine what is a reasonable amount of drinking since their judgment is impaired after the first drink.
After having one drink the ability to make rational decisions is gone. Many people say that one drink is not enough. They may feel that they need more to relax and get the feeling that they desire. The best thing to do is to avoid drinking altogether.
Over time, a person will reduce the urge to have a drink. They will not have to worry about having too much or making additional poor decisions because they have consumed an excessive amount of alcohol.
Is Addiction a Disease?
I have an uneasy feeling classifying addiction as a disease. There have been several experts that have come out and said that being addicted to a substance is an illness and a person cannot control their actions. In some part, it is a choice and not an illness. No one told the person to use the substance.
They made a conscious decision to use it knowing what could happen to them. I do agree that a physical illness can make a person abuse substances and the addiction is a result of their condition. Many people say addiction is a disease so a person can keep their dignity.
The disease will help cover the abuse and discourage personal responsibility. To beat the addiction, a person has to be able to take responsibility for their actions and even the poor choices they have made.
Controversy of Involuntary Addiction:
Many people are prescribed medications for a specific medical purpose by their doctor. The medication is usually to handle pain and is only supposed to be used for a short period. Many of these prescription drugs are highly addictive. Some people do require long-term care, but many medications are prescribed for short-term pain management.
They become so used to the medication that they feel they cannot function without it. Instead of looking for other methods to treat their medical condition they continue to use these pain pills.
Years ago I worked with a woman who was addicted to Valium, Paxil, and Prozac. She wanted to discontinue using these medications. I did find something that can answer her medical questions. I was able to help her find other treatment methods to deal with her medical conditions as well as her pain.
It took her two years to kick a six-year addiction to these pills. She decided to replace the physical addiction with a mental and emotional addiction to add direction in her life. She felt much better once she got off the medication and is now happy with the way her life is going.
When Did my Addiction Begin?
Addiction is a pleasure principle that is a natural bodily function. It gives the body a feeling that it likes. The body is looking to find pleasure while avoiding pain. Addictive substances replace the natural order of needs in a person’s life. They take over everything. When a person does not have the substance, the body returns to the feeling of pain.
Addictive substances become the top priority in life and top everything else. They will take control, and a person will even change their behavior to get the high feeling or the reward to the body that they want.
There are addictive situations as well as addictive substances. A woman that grew up in a family where abuse was common is more likely to become involved in an abusive relationship. They look for their relationships to keep the familiar feelings. While this is a destructive behavior, they feel that it is an important part of their life.
Signs of Addiction:
There are different signs of addiction. There is one indicator that is a clear sign that a person is addicted. Some nights, a person may experience a hangover and vow that they will never drink again. In the morning they get up and do not remember what happened the previous night.
Yet they go out drinking the next night again. They may have bruises and a black eye from getting beat by their partner. A woman may be getting abused, but she keeps on returning to the abuser.
Other signs may include changes in emotions and in the people that you socialize with. A person may have the need to use the substance again. If they do not have it they may get angry, not be able to sleep, feel ill, avoid certain situations, and may even be banned from particular establishments.
How Do I Overcome Addiction?
Recovery is a choice. To begin the healing process, you first need to acknowledge that you have a substance abuse problem, then decide to do something about it. You need to move from a victim and make the responsible choice to enter addiction counseling. You need to take responsibility and control.
Your addiction can no longer control you. The first step to recovering is abstinence. Stop using the substance. Counseling, medical assistance, or changing daily activities can help with this. Many say this is easier said than done.
One thing that I have learned is that clients need to seek the help of qualified medical professionals. They need to find an immediate replacement to their addictive behavior. Many do not know what else to do or how to move on.
They need someone to point them in the right direction. If they do not have a fulfilling life, they may drink, take drugs, or put themselves back into dangerous situations. This will continue to keep them in the destructive path of addiction.
Replacement for Addiction:
While replacing a dangerous addiction with a new addiction does not sound like a good thing, it is a significant step for recovery. For example, while I do not often agree with support groups, they can be a useful part of a person’s life.
They can replace a bad addiction with a better addiction. They are not harmful, and they are a reasonable replacement for the negative habits.
It helps many of my clients to design a plan for their life. This will assist them from getting lost in their addiction and will allow them to focus on recovery. A medical professional can help develop a life plan and help keep a person focused. They will be able to change their values and will not need substances to feel happiness and pleasure.
I once knew a young man whose father killed himself. He was caught in a cycle of depression and did not know how to overcome it. While trying to break out of the depression, he became addicted to alcohol which took over his life.
After focusing on the cause of his depression and working with a doctor to even out his emotions, he was able to design a new life for himself. The loss of a family member is hard, and life will change. He was caught in a life of loss and was not able to cope with his emotions.
The addiction has a life of its own and will completely take over a person’s life. It will define who they are and their behaviors. It will change their focus in life as well. Realizing this is the heart of recovery.
The Next Step:
Inside of every addict, there is a kind and happy person that is willing to come out. Along the way, this person was lost to the addiction. They allowed the substance to take over their life at all costs. This is the destructive nature of addiction. They must make a choice to change so they can continue to live.
Some pitfalls can happen during the recovery process. There may be people that want to help, but they may be addicted themselves. They will have little useful information to share. Society views addiction as a disease and states that self-recovery is next to impossible. Society does not reward those in rehabilitation and those that want to accept personal responsibility during the recovery process.
If you have changed your environment due to your addiction, then know that this is the beginning of recovering. You may have lost contact with family and may have lost your job. You need to make the decision to move on with the like and put people that matter before your addiction.
You have yourself, and that is what counts. Take the time to get in touch with your real self, and you will be happy with the person that you found. The concept of treating yourself for an addiction problem is one that challenges the very foundations of therapy and recovery from addictions.
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