First Steps Towards Overcoming Addiction

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Surrendering yourself to the idea that you’ve been beaten by your dependency to alcohol, narcotics, or other destructive behaviors (gambling, sex addiction, binge-eating, etc) is not an easy step to take. If giving up was easy, everyone would be able to do it, and neither addiction nor the field of addiction treatment would exist.

The very fact that you or your loved one has arrived at a point of considering then need to get help, strongly suggests that the time for change is upon you and we must always strike while the iron’s hot.

A lot of shame remains around the subject of addiction, and telling your loved ones that you have an addiction can be both challenging and awkward, to say the least. Revealing that you are struggling with addiction or some sort of destructive dependency, acknowledging that you need help, will bring about feelings of hopelessness or embarrassment on your part, whilst often inducing a sense of anxiety or anger in your loved ones.

Despite the fact that being vulnerable and honest with those people who are closest to you is difficult, it is a necessary first step in your recovery journey.

Admitting we have a problem is the first step towards overcoming the problem.

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How to explain addiction to others

Although interpretations of the meaning of the word “addiction” vary, it can most easily be explained as the inability to stop engaging in a behaviour, irrespective of the negative consequences that result from that behaviour.

Addictions can be physical (smoking cigarettes) or psychological (using cocaine) and are very often both (alcohol or heroin are both good examples). Largely people think of “addiction” as being associated with the consumption of alcohol or drugs, but there are many other types of addictions, such as gambling, pornography, food (over eating or under eating), the internet (particularly gaming and social media), work and even exercise.

There have been revealing studies and statistics published over the years, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which states that 9.3% of people 12 and older required treatment as a result of alcohol or illicit drug problems (year 2009). This is the USA, but also reflects similarly on many other Western cultures and countries.

How to explain addiction to others

Once you have crossed the threshold and admitted to yourself that you have a problem, the next step is choosing to engage in some form of treatment, even though you may not know what recovery treatment is or what it looks like.

It is our experience that 95% of people who suffer from addiction need their family support in some form or another to progress. It is rare that someone moves forward into recovery treatment without letting a single member of their family know. After all, we believe that a secret shared is a secret halved.

Here are some tips that you may find useful in helping you to speak to someone close to you:

Ask for help

Take some time to reflect upon what it is you want to say and to whom you want to say it. You may or may not yet have developed a way for your recovery, and you may not even know if you need a detox or rehab or something even more intensive, but the one thing you do need to consider is who is in a position to help you that you trust.

Whoever it’s going to be, think about a way to approach them and keep an open mind as to what will be the best course of action for you and your recovery.

Keep an open mind

At this stage, you are not best placed to truly know how to treat yourself. Please accept the advice (and extensive experience) of professionals in the field. One thing they will all say is that the love and support of your family is important.

They may also start suggesting things like detox and residential rehab. Just keep an open mind and know that your family will also need to stay informed. An addiction professional will be able to help you present solutions to them.

No matter what course of action you choose to take for treatment, it’s important that your loved ones know that you have a plan for recovery.

Ask a professional

If you’re feeling nervous or anxious about how to speak to your family, reach out and ask a therapist or a recovery coach for help.

These people are trained and experienced to help in precisely these situations, and they will be hugely supportive of you and your family, should any of them struggle with what needs to be done to help you recover.

Most importantly, they’ll be able to help you choose the best time, place and manner in which to communicate your desire to change to your family.

Get honest with them

Downplaying the seriousness of your addiction or dependency only serves your own concerns around being judged, but know that the best outcome starts from a place of transparency and disclosure.

You don’t need to go into the details of what you’ve done or how you’ve behaved, but do be clear about the severity of your situation. Being completely open will provide you with a huge sense of relief, even if it is only to those closest to you. Having someone who really knows will also hold you personally accountable. Your friends and family will come to understand your issues and subsequently play a huge role in helping you recover.

If you’re currently still purchasing illegal drugs, say so. If your alcohol addiction is so profound that you feel you cannot go for more than a few hours without a drink, say so. This type of honesty is one of the keys to accepting help, and also gives those close to you the ability to support you on your path to recovery.

Reveal your patterns

Tell those people around you how they can best help you at this time, things like removing wine from the fridge or not smoking joints while in your presence.

Tell them that going out to dinner triggers you to start drinking, or that going to nightclubs causes you to drink and use cocaine.

Admitting to these processes and patterns early on will help you avoid these situations. It may also help people close to you to stop enabling you or to stop bringing about those situations in which you find yourself powerless.

Apologise and acknowledge remorse

This isn’t an easy step, but by realising the impact your behaviour has had on your loved ones, your children for instance, and by beginning the healing process by apologising to them, will help you greatly in later recovery.

Furthermore, it may start the process of healing rifts and disputes that have been going on for some time. The apology isn’t the end of the story. It’s the beginning of a new chapter.

Talking about yourself and your challenges makes a huge difference in starting to overcome addiction. You don’t need to tell your whole life story or reveal your darkest secrets, but simply sharing what’s going on will start the healing process. It will also begin to prepare you for what happens in rehab and in the treatment process.

Talking therapies have proven to be the strongest tools we have with which to recover. Talking helps us to overcome our concerns and fears, allows us to better understand ourselves, and gives us the answers to living better lives. You will notice the magic happening slowly but surely, and you will also feel a sense relief when you share about yourself in an open and honest way. People around you will identify with you and respond with acceptance.

This is the reason why enrolling in residential treatment is of benefit; you will be surrounded by other clients and also by trained professionals, all of whom share similar experiences. Furthermore, they will have the experience and education required to help you address your challenges and permanently recover from your addiction.

At The River our primary care inpatient treatment programme is 12 weeks long. We ask you to commit this length of time to your recovery, because is is proven that 12-week programmes work. You will have access to professional services around the clock, while also resting assured of being in a safe, comfortable and empowering environment.

Now that you’ve chosen to begin the process of recovery, informing your friends and family is the most likely next step. If you need our help, we are fully available to support you. Please contact us to find out how we can help.

Know that when you explain your addiction to your loved ones, you empower them to help you. Speaking the truth lets them in and gives you the reassurance of their emotional support.

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In comparison to other treatment centres I’ve been in I found The River Rehab to be very different. Theres no rush or pressure and they worked with me to identify my problems and supported me to find what works for me…

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