If you’re concerned that you’re no longer in control of substance use, there’s probably a lot on your mind. People who struggle with addiction are often at the mercy of drugs and alcohol, which can rewire the brain to shift your priorities and distort your world view. Luckily, there are clear steps to overcome addiction that anyone can take.
Can You Take Steps to Overcome Addiction?
Addiction treatment looks a little different for everyone, depending on their experiences, triggers and various other factors. However, there is some common ground when it comes to getting sober. The initial recovery period takes hard work, but as you continue on your journey, you’ll build courage, resilience and pride in how far you’ve come.
Drug addiction and alcoholism are chronic diseases, which means there’s no definitive cure. Instead, people with the condition need to learn new habits and actively focus on using coping mechanisms other than drugs and alcohol.
Doing this alone isn’t an option, but you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for your recovery. Medical professionals at rehab will provide support and care while giving you the tools you need to maintain sobriety long term. Here are the steps you can take to get back in the driver’s seat and banish addictive behavior.
1. Admit That You Have a Problem
Practically all experts agree that admitting you have a problem is essential for recovery. This doesn’t necessarily take place before rehab for everyone. In fact, many people go to rehab because they’re court-ordered or because their family wants them to. Therapists and other care workers can help clients see they need help, so don’t worry if you or your loved one isn’t quite there yet.
Denial is a close relative of addiction, because as long as you’re not thinking about the reality of the consequences, you can convince yourself that your behavior is acceptable. Without seeing how damaging your actions are, it’s hard to understand why you should stop doing something you feel so compelled to do.
2. Learn About the Mechanisms of Alcohol and Drugs
A barrier for many people is also another major cause of denial in addicted people: not fully comprehending the devastating impact psychoactive substances have on the brain and body.
Drinking alcohol is perfectly legal, and a large proportion of people can do so without drinking so much that it damages their health. For an alcoholic, it’s practically impossible to see the difference between themselves and other people who drink socially.
Drug addicts often understand that they shouldn’t take drugs because it’s illegal, but they don’t necessarily know how badly drugs affect the brain’s reward system. Part of the recovery process is facing up to the reality of the long-term consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.
3. Get Counseling for Substance Use Disorders
In addition to psychoeducation, individual counseling and group therapy are essential tools for getting sober. Everyone has different experiences and reasons for turning to substance abuse. The better you understand your “why,” the more adept you can get at coping with the emotions or stressors that push you into a place where inebriation is a go-to solution.
For some people, peer pressure and exposure are bigger contributors to the development of addiction than trauma. Counseling is still necessary to help you avoid getting into a similar situation in the future and help you form healthier habits.
4. Learn Your Triggers and Develop Coping Mechanisms
During therapy, a major part of the work you do is focused on learning triggers and developing coping mechanisms. Triggers are situations, emotions and thinking patterns that make you feel like using drugs and alcohol. Criticism, rejection, anxiety, guilt and shame are common examples.
A counselor will help you understand your emotions so you can start to label them and know when you might be triggered to use substances. Over time, you’ll develop coping mechanisms and learn how to implement them when the feelings that could lead to drug or alcohol abuse arise.
One of the most important coping mechanisms is sharing your feelings with loved ones. Keeping negative emotions inside without expressing them can lead to resentment and anger, which is much harder to work through if you let it build up. By getting how you feel off your chest, you give less power to the negative emotion and provide yourself with an opportunity to resolve the problem.
5. Make Lifestyle Changes to Maintain Recovery Long Term
The final major step in the recovery process is making long-term lifestyle changes that support your sober lifestyle. Below is an explanation of some effective ways of maintaining a healthy body and mind so you don’t get sucked back into substance abuse.
Talking to Loved Ones
As mentioned previously, getting your feelings off your chest is pivotal to recovery. Many people who struggle with addiction have an internalized belief that their feelings aren’t worthy, or are somehow invalid. By opening up and being honest and vulnerable with people you trust, you can relieve the stress of carrying anger, pain and guilt.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise play an astoundingly important role in many people’s recovery. Eating too much highly processed food and not enough fruits and vegetables can affect mental health, as the body uses nutrients to keep your brain and body healthy. Likewise, not moving your body for at least 30 minutes each day can lead to imbalances in hormones that can make resisting cravings much harder.
Support Groups and Ongoing Therapy
All rehab alumni should continue attending therapy and support groups for at least two years, although many go for the rest of their lives. Addiction is a deep-rooted psychological disorder, and it takes a long time to properly rewire the brain’s circuits so cravings and substance abuse aren’t at the front of your mind.
Reinforcing what you’ve learned in rehab with ongoing mental health treatment is essential for overcoming addiction.
Get Professional Help for Addiction Today
The best place to overcome addiction is at rehab, where experienced addiction experts can help guide you through the process. Call our Fort Myers rehabilitation center today at 844-254-9664 for more information.