Being aware of having a drug problem is the first step toward recovery. But in itself, awareness is not enough to necessarily motivate change. An individual with a drug addiction may realize that drugs are causing numerous problems that make life more difficult, such as missed work, relationship issues, and health concerns. The first real step to begin the recovery process takes place when a person decides to stop using drugs. This decision may or may not be shared with others, but it is a firm resolution rather than a passing thought. Although no two journeys are exactly the same, some people initiate the recovery process in a series of interlocking steps like the following.
Awareness of a problem.
As stated above, recovery begins with acknowledging a drug problem. Those in denial will put off getting help, waiting until something catastrophic happens and it is too late. Anyone who honestly appraises the situation and admits to needing help has begun his or her journey toward recovery.
In addition to admitting to oneself or others that a drug addiction problem exists, negative feelings related to drug use, such as guilt and shame, can intensify a struggling person’s desire for treatment and rehabilitation. Anxiety and depression may also develop, leading to emotional turmoil that can contribute to the desire to stop using drugs. Loved ones often enhance the individual’s interest in rehabilitation by offering support during this life-changing experience.
Commitment to change.
Those who willingly come to terms with their problem circumstances often decide to escape drug use permanently, especially knowing their family and friends will be supportive. Finding inner strength and leaning on the strength of loved ones, he or she resolves to stop using drugs as a means to escape problems. At this point they will realize that something must change immediately because life as a prisoner to this dangerous habit will only cause more pain and suffering.
Seek professional help.
After making a commitment to stop using drugs, the person may enter a rehabilitation program as a resident or outpatient. After completing the program, they are likely to join a support group and may decide to contact drug abuse counselors or therapists for follow-up individual or group counseling. One such group is Narcotics Anonymous (NA), an organization offering support to those who are trying to break away or stay free of the drug habit. NA provides 12-step based meetings nationwide offering immediate peer support for staying drug-free.
In addition to professional assistance, a person trying to escape the bonds of drug usage will change his or her life to make it less drug-friendly. Often, replacing the bad habit with a healthier one, such as exercise, can be very beneficial. Learning to eat healthy foods and keeping a diary to record thoughts and moods are other ways of rebuilding a life following rehabilitation. Most people recovering from an addiction start avoiding former friends who supplied or shared drugs. Instead, they develop new friendships with drug-free individuals who can be supportive of their new lifestyle.
An individual who is serious about recovery can be successful by making changes like these. Giving up drugs for good is not easy, but it can be done by someone who is determined to make it happen. All it takes is acknowledgement of a problem, commitment to recovery, and daily action, along with support from family and friends.