An Introduction to Overcoming Drug Addiction

The United States of America is going through a crisis. Motor vehicle crashes are no longer the main cause of accidental death. They have a new public health emergency: opioid overdose. SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health concluded that 22.5 million American citizens needed treatment for illicit substance abuse in 2014.

That accounts for 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. Of those affected by addiction, only 4.2 million received the treatment they needed that very same year. I used to be one of those people.

The first time I ever got drunk, I was 9 years old. It was at a family party, and although I was caught, I knew deep down that I loved the way it made me feel. Transparent promises aside, I kept drinking every time I had a chance. By age 13 I was already smoking marijuana. Shortly thereafter, I was experimenting with drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, and ecstasy.

My world was shaken when I was sentenced to two years in prison on drug related charges. Everything in my life was suddenly turned upside down, and I found myself going through withdrawal behind bars at age 23.

The sad reality is that there are similarities between my life story and that of others who abuse substances. Too often, people don’t know how fast they can spiral into addiction. Before they know it they are lost, and have no idea how to pull themselves out of their predicament. It feels hopeless, for one because more often than not, addicts can’t admit that they have a problem. Second, because they alienate those around them and end up without support. Third, because they don’t get proper drug addiction treatment, and that leads to relapse after rehab.

I’ve created this basic guide to getting over drug addiction for those who don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re an addict looking for answers. Maybe you’re a friend or family member trying to find help for someone else. Either way, there is information here to put you on the right track. Let’s take a look at these five steps to getting over drug addiction:

1. Admit That There Is A Problem

This is the first step on the road to recovery, and unsurprisingly is also one of the toughest. People don’t want to admit that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. What you need to know is that acceptance brings you back to reality. It removes you from the dream world where continuing substance abuse is the only choice.

People usually continue to deny their situation exists because it’s easier to numb the pain that way. What they don’t realize, is that by accepting that there is a problem, they gain the willpower to want to change their lives. It’s acceptance that lays the groundwork for possibilities, not denial.

2. Get Support

Before you start getting the drug out of your system, you need to vent. Find someone you can trust, like a friend or family member, and let the truth spill out. You need to voice your problems. Hearing yourself say what has been on your mind reinforces your acceptance, and also lets the people around you know that you’re looking for help.

This change in attitude proves that you are no longer willing to continue the same habits, which motivates them to support you. I can’t express the importance of a support group in this situation. Without my friends and family to back me up on my journey, I’m not sure I would have made it.

There are support services available like, Alcoholics and Narcotics anonymous for extra help. Listening to the experiences of other people can potentially give you more motivation as well.

3. Detox

Depending on your drug of choice, detox methods may vary. It’s true that the most effective ways are found at treatment centers, however you can always get a head start with some basics. If you’re planning on doing your detox at home, then make sure that you get approval from a doctor before you start. Otherwise, your life could be in danger.

You can start by drinking a lot of water and eating a healthy, balanced meal. Remember that drug detox at home absolutely needs to be approved by your doctor beforehand. It could be life threatening depending on how often you are intoxicated and what kind of drug you are using.

4. Find Treatment

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment. In fact, the more successful rehabilitation centers understand that catering to every individual’s specific needs is an essential part of recovery. If you believe that the addiction is too grave to be on your own, then you can look into inpatient residencies. If you’d like to continue your life outside the center, or believe that there are other aspects of your life that you can’t abandon, then outpatient programs are better suited for you.

5. Stay Sober

Recent studies have shown that 85% of recovering addicts relapse within the first year following treatment. With that number in mind, it’s important to have a good plan after you finish your rehabilitation. The way I kept myself busy is that I dedicated myself to countering all the damage I did to my body with new, healthier habits. Exercise, better diet, practicing mindfulness and other holistic methods were part of my strategy. The crucial element is for you not to lose hope, and see the beauty in having a second chance at life as a blank slate.

The drug war has been over for quite some time now, but the threat of drugs continues to increase. The general population does not have enough information about addiction to be prepared if it takes over their friends and family. The good news is that the government has given drug abuse the attention it deserves, and are working on new solutions every day. With more resources available to the public, I also believe that we can fight addiction together. No one deserves to go through what I went through. Use these tips to help yourself.

What other tips do you have for those trying to get recover from drug addiction? Comment below!