When addiction takes center stage in a sufferer’s life, all other concerns fall away as the drug-seeking behavior becomes the addict’s exclusive priority. Feelings of losing control can be a source of anguish.
When the consequences of addiction are recognized, many addicts try to take back control. Most are surprised at their failures to do so successfully. Addiction, by its nature, affects the motivation and willpower of the sufferer, so it is rarely possible for an addict to recover using willpower alone.
Seeking treatment via outside help is crucial. The necessity of seeking outside help can be a humbling blow to one’s pride. For many, the perceived humiliation of asking for help, especially for a stigmatized disorder like addiction, is an impediment to treatment. This is especially true for young men, who are raised not to ask for help.
For anyone experiencing doubts, it is important to understand that addiction is not a moral failing. It is a legitimate disorder. The DSM-5, a manual psychiatrists use to diagnose mental health disorders, refers to addiction as substance use disorder. It is defined as an inability to control one’s use of a substance.
Addiction is absolutely treatable. The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines several research-backed principles of effective treatment:
Counseling and behavioral therapy is an extremely effective treatment for substance use disorder. Many varieties of therapies exist. The most common treatment currently is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is also the most evidence-based treatment.
Cognitive behavioral therapy allows the addict to analyze and change their thought and behavior patterns to end the cycle of addiction. Other therapies, like family therapy, try to understand and change how social relationships influence addiction.
12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are the most famous and popular kinds of support groups for treating addiction. At 12-step meetings, addicts can meet other people who understand the unique brand of suffering that addicts go through.
Not only is building a sober community beneficial and enjoyable, but 12-step programs also offer recovery programs that help addicts repair the damage that their addictions did — and build a new, healthier, and freer life in sobriety. Multiple studies have confirmed that recovering alcoholics who go to more 12-step meetings and get more involved in the program tend to stay sober longer.
Doctors sometimes prescribe addicts medications that can help them quit using a substance. These medications generally help with cravings, reduce withdrawal effects, or both. It is important, however, to combine these medications with a more holistic recovery program to ensure long term sobriety. Some of these medications include:
Sometimes simply going to therapy or talking to your doctor isn’t enough. For many addicts, enrolling in inpatient treatment programs is beneficial. These treatment centers offer all of the above-listed treatment methods in one convenient location.
By allowing newly sober recovering addicts to live together, they provide addicts with a safe space to build the foundation for a new life without the temptations of the “real world.”
Taking the time to restructure one’s life in such a program can be a great idea, especially when the addict has suffered consequences in his relationships and professional life. Multiple studies have shown that the drug-free community that sober living homes offer may help prevent relapse down the line, long after a client has left the confines of the treatment center.
The variety of treatment options can initially seem overwhelming. The big question for many people who hope to get sober is which one will work best. Ultimately, this is a question that can only be answered via experimentation.
Many recovering addicts make use of a variety of recovery options simultaneously, such as attending AA meetings and going to counseling regularly after a period of time in a sober living home. While one recovery option may not work for you, there is surely another that will. The most important thing is to take that initial step and ask for help.