Surrendering yourself to the idea that you’ve been beaten by your dependency to alcohol, narcotics, or other destructive behaviours (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.
So, 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.
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.
Being open to someone close to you
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:
What comes Next
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.