Substance use disorder is a complex issue and negative social stigma often keeps people from sharing their life experiences involving addiction. Throughout the treatment process, people in recovery work hard to explore the causes of their substance abuse and strategies for preventing relapse. During this process, they learn many things about addiction that could have been helpful in hindsight. Here are six things people often realize after they’ve struggled with addiction and are on the other side in recovery.
- Addiction can hide in plain sight.
Movies and TV shows tend to depict addiction in ways that aren’t always realistic. As a result, you may think that you’re fine and that you don’t have a problem just because you hold down a job and you have good relationships with family and friends, but that’s not always the case. Substance abuse problems can hide in plain sight, masked by jokes or statements like, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as that guy!” However, the negative side effects of addiction will eventually catch up with you. It’s easy to think that you can hold things together but believing the social misconceptions about alcohol and drug abuse can be a dangerous thing.
- You don’t choose to become addicted.
No one sets out to become addicted, but it happens far too often. In 2018, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder.1 More than likely, none of these individuals decided to become addicted, but it happened. Many people accidentally fall into a life of addiction after taking prescription drugs that were given to them by a doctor. Often, this happens gradually over time and it’s so subtle that you hardly notice it’s happening until it’s out of control. In other cases, using certain drugs like methamphetamine just one time can set the stage for years of substance abuse and addiction.
- Optimism won’t prevent the negative consequences of drug abuse.
Thoughts like, “I’ll be fine, nothing will happen to me.” or “It’s not that bad.” are extremely dangerous because they downplay the harmful effects of addiction. In truth, no one is immune to the physical dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, the risk of overdose, or the financial and relational ruin that result from substance abuse. Addiction changes the way your brain functions and it can make you say and do things that you wouldn’t normally do.2 Despite your optimism, addiction can still motivate you to commit crimes, behave irresponsibly, and give up basic necessities like food and shelter.
- Your drug abuse doesn’t just affect you.
It’s easy to believe the lie that your drug or alcohol abuse only affects you, but the consequences of this behavior often overflow into the lives of those closest to us. Those that are close to you will likely notice a change and worry for your health and well-being. If you have children, they may not fully understand what’s happening but they will notice that you’re different and watch how you behave. Your coworkers and boss may also experience the side effects of your substance abuse at work as your priorities shift from your work responsibilities to getting high or drunk.
- You can’t just quit cold turkey.
Getting sober isn’t as easy as just quitting cold turkey. Addiction runs much deeper than that. Many drugs have severe physical and psychological side effects of withdrawal that can make it very difficult to stay sober. Additionally, the psychological pull of addiction can make it all but impossible to resist cravings without proper treatment and therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. If you’re using drugs or alcohol to cope with certain circumstances or to self-medicate mental health issues, quitting cold turkey won’t solve the issue. Instead, professional treatment for addiction will address co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression while also helping you develop coping skills for life.
- Sobriety requires support.
Addiction recovery is largely supported by friends and family members who are rooting for you and your sobriety. Although it’s possible to get sober and stay sober without any support, it’s much less likely to be sustainable or satisfying. Research studies confirm the many benefits of peer support in recovery, including higher rates of abstinence, reduced instances of relapse, more engagement in treatment, a reduction in homelessness, and improvement in self-efficacy.3 Peer support in recovery may include 12-Step fellowships, sober living programs, family therapy, and peer monitoring programs, and other types of aftercare programs.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Help for Addiction
Whether you’ve tried to get sober before or you want to get sober for the first time, help is available and recovery is possible. Call (512) 605-2955 to learn more about drug and alcohol detox, rehab, and aftercare services at Nova Recovery Center.