Addiction is a complicated thing. Most common advice has no conception of the experience of addiction nor of the process of healing it. Many on the outside view the addiction itself as the problem; there’s a thing a person needs to stop doing. This is merely a symptom. Addictions develop as a coping mechanism for feelings that a person finds too difficult to experience on their own. Fully healing an addiction often requires addressing the root cause of that addiction. The following will explore the steps you or someone you love can take to begin healing and recovering from a period of addition.
Acknowledge The Addiction
For some, this will be the hardest part of the process. If you’re reading this in regards to your own situation, congratulations, you’ve probably already completed this step. If you’re reading on behalf of someone else in your life, it’s important to think very carefully about how to breach the subject, seeking out professional guidance if needed. Being told you have an addiction that you yourself cannot see can produce a wide range of emotional responses, from laughing the accusation off to getting angry, offended and defensive. This might be one of the most painful conversations a person has in their life, so remember to be gentle and avoid any accusations or blame.
If you’re about to embark on the journey of healing from an addiction, you’re probably going to want support. Support can take many forms, and it’s important to be honest about what sort of support will work best for you. If you have friends who regularly partake in the substance you’re going to give up, they may not be the best form of support. If you have strained relationships with family members, they might not offer the best form of support. Some people seek out professional help with either in-house treatments or out-of-house treatments at facilities developed specifically for addiction; click here for an example. Many people who struggle with addiction have encountered extreme feelings of unsafety in their lives, and this means that safety is of the utmost importance when you’re recovering. Finding support that feels safe and comfortable can provide you with the resources you need throughout the recovery process.
During this stage, it’s a good idea to learn about the different treatment options available to you. If you don’t know where to start, you can speak to a medical professional who can provide you with sources of help that you might not have found on your own.
Most of us have a wonky view of what trauma is. We tend to think of the suffering that is highly visible as trauma, but the term is much broader than that. Trauma refers to any suffering that the person experiencing the suffering cannot bring to an end; it is suffering combined with a feeling of helplessness. This is why running a marathon, while it can cause some pain, isn’t traumatic. Being unable to bring an end to suffering can result in internal alterations to the mental state or emotional state as an attempt to bring about the end of the discomfort; things like disassociation, avoidance, escapism, martyrdom (telling oneself a story about the “ethical” reasons they choose to endure the pain), PTSD and other reactions like taking hyper-vigilant control over what parts of life a person can influence like their food choices. You can probably see how many addictions align with these responses.
Learning about trauma and trauma responses can help you reframe the narrative of your situation. It can help you forgive yourself for turning to the coping mechanisms you chose.
Prepare To Make Changes
The preparation stage in addiction healing tends to involve an addict having identified the problem and beginning to mentally prepare for a treatment path. This is the point where the intention to change becomes clear and focused. It is also the point where triggers should be paid attention to. Noting what events and interactions lead to usage can help people in the next stage of recovery.
This is the point when treatment begins. This can be done alone or with others. It can be done with the help of a treatment plan from a medical professional or an organization like Alcoholics Anonymous. Habits and routines will have to change to avoid triggers, and other health-focused steps like stress-management techniques and focusing on nutritional, mental and emotional needs might be employed. Simple tweaks to daily life like taking a magnesium supplement and an omega supplement can help ease this stage.
Once action has been taken and new habits and routines formed, the maintenance stage begins. This involves an awareness of triggers and planning for long term maintenance.
The above tips should have outlined the addiction recovery process. It’s important to remember that everyone’s path to health and wellness looks different, and that’s okay.