It can be difficult to figure out just where to begin when realizing you or your loved one is on a path of destructive addiction. You may have noticed something was off without being able to place your finger on it, or you’ve watched that control over it slowly slipping away. Whatever the case may be, I’m here to give you the good news that there is a solution and addicts can recover.
Pathway to Getting & Staying Sober
Addiction has been proven to be a disease of the brain and, like any disease, it must be treated. Believe me when I say, this is intimidating. It’s downright terrifying. Our drug of choice has been our coping mechanism for over a span of months, years, sometimes a lifetime. To completely rearrange one’s life and abandon that drug or drink that has actually become more of a friend, is a daunting task. I’ve faced this decision multiple times and it’s never been anything less than overwhelming. However, these are all feelings and as I’ve learned in recovery, feelings are not facts. It may seem too much, too big with too many unknowns but as anyone living in long term recovery will tell you, it’s as simple as one day at a time, sometimes even just a minute at a time. It can be done and it is so worth it.
- Take the time to talk to someone you trust. Whether this be for you or a loved one, this realization can be a lot to take on, emotionally and mentally. Find a friend, a parent, grandparent, therapist…anyone you feel comfortable talking with openly and honestly. Maybe even find an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting in your area- they’re free to attend and you’ll find yourself in genuine company. No judgements, and your fears that you are unreachable will undoubtedly fade away.
- Start looking at treatment options. Determine what treatment option is right for you or your loved one. Depending on drug of choice, frequency of use and length of use, there are different options when weighing out which path you will take.
Step 1: Drug & Alcohol Detox Facility
Detox is used to help medically wean an individual off of drugs and alcohol. Medications are prescribed and used to make the detox process less intense, a welcome aid to those who are heavy into addiction. I cannot stress enough however, detoxing by yourself cold-turkey can be dangerous and even fatal. Anyone seeking treatment should begin at a detox facility. Once the drugs and alcohol have finally left your system, treatment can begin.
Residential Treatment Facility (Rehab)
Residential Treatment is recommended to anyone finding the inability to stop using or have used for such a time that you feel as thought you’re literally finding yourself starting from ground zero in learning to live without drink or drug. Treatment programs can range from 30 days to 6 months depending on insurance and individual needs. Contact your insurance company to find out what your benefits will cover and if you don’t have insurance, I recommend looking over the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration http://samhsa.gov.
From a person in long term recovery, take it from me- take as much time as you possibly can get in inpatient rehab; 30 or 60 days might seem like a lot of time but it’s only barely a drop in the bucket in comparison to the rest of your life. I personally spent 30 days at an in-patient facility in Pennsylvania. Before going, I had every excuse in the book as to why it might be too long. Looking back, it’s the best thing I could have ever done.
Intensive Outpatient Therapy (Outpatient Rehab)
Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP) is generally available after immediately after completing Residential Treatment but can be attended even if Residential treatment was not completed. There are a number of days, usually 3-4 that are required for attendance during preset hours. This therapy is comprised of group setting therapy, therapeutic activities and one on one sessions with a therapist at least once a week. IOP can generally last 3 – 5 weeks, depending on the recommendation of your therapist.
There is also a step down known as OP or Outpatient therapy which consists of sessions as in IOP, only fewer days are required, as recommended by your therapist.
- Get packed and get ready. Your adventure awaits. Make any necessary travel arrangements, provide that information to your treatment facility of choice. Your facility should also provide you with a packing list based on different activities, weather, etc.
Of course there is always the option of seeking out a therapist outside of inpatient treatment but with that, I have to caution how dangerous it can be to withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. Drugs can be painful to withdrawal from and certain ones, including alcohol, can be fatal if not medically supervised. Please do not attempt to detox yourself at home, medically unsupervised. This is another resource you can locate online; most detox facilities can treat either drug or alcohol withdrawal but you should call if you’re unsure if they will be the right fit for your detox process.
12 Step Programs
There are 12 step programs for nearly every type of substance including AA for alcohol recovery, NA for recovery from drugs, Pills Anonymous for prescription pill recovery, Marijuana Anonymous, Methamphetamine Anonymous and many more. Even though I was struggling with addiction to alcohol, prescription pills and other substances, I began going to AA meetings in treatment and continued to go when I got back. Some days, particularly before I started working again, I was going to 2 or 3 meetings a day. Getting commitments and investing in the fellowship aspect kept me coming back. It worked!
I hope this has given you a little hope and a little less stress for this process. As I said before, it is challenging to get clean and sober but your life can be so much more. If you’re trapped in the grip of addiction and don’t know where to turn, these tips can give you a steppingstone to start. I encourage you to be as open as possible to someone throughout this journey- it is not one that we can venture alone, as much as we may want to.
There are some times in life where we have to admit we need help and lean on the people that love and support you, or times when you must approach a loved one with your fears of their behavior. It’s never easy to watch someone you love become a person you no longer recognize. I, and many others, are proof of a provable, obtainable solution. It truly is the first day of the rest of your life.
When I prepared to board a plane on to go to treatment, I had no idea what to expect. I was leaving all friends and family behind. But what I have come to realize is there was no way I was going to get better where I was and to stay was to die. I couldn’t manage my own life and I couldn’t live that way anymore. Though half a country away from my family, I know in my heart that they deserve a happy and healthy dad, son and brother.
I hope this gives you peace as you begin this process and most of all I wish you good health and true happiness.