Did you know, 1 in 10 U.S. adults report being addicted to a substance at some point in their lives? Substance use disorder is much more common than most people assume, and sadly, the stigma surrounding substance use keeps it hidden from the mainstream. Our society unjustly assigns judgement, shame, and guilt to those who have found themselves caught in a pattern of addictive behaviors. Much of this is due to misunderstanding what addiction really is: a disorder caused by a combination of brain chemistry, genetics, and environmental factors.
If you’ve found yourself or a loved one ready to break the cycle of addiction but not sure where to start, we want to congratulate you! The first step is often the hardest, but recovery is possible. Here are 7 steps you can take to help you on your journey to tackle substance use.
1. Admit that you have a problem.
This is one of the most important steps in your recovery process. When you admit to yourself that your substance use is problematic and negatively effecting your quality of life, you can begin to mentally prepare yourself to break those old habits. It’s also important to admit this to your friends, family, and loved ones. Being honest with yourself & others will help provide support and accountability during your recovery process. This can help prevent denial & eventual relapse. So, if you’ve found yourself Googling how to tackle addiction…it’s a clear sign that you’re mentally ready for the first steps towards recovery.
2. Create a support system ASAP.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s important everyone in your circle is onboard so they can support you in your goals & prevent relapse. Isolation is often a trigger for addictive tendencies, so keep yourself surrounded by supportive people in any way you can. Sometimes your friends and family are not enough and you may want the support of others who understand what you’re going through. Local addiction recovery support groups can be an amazing way to find community, purpose, and help prevent relapse. Often, they can provide you with relevant advice and accountability partners to help keep you on track.
3. Seek professional treatment.
It’s great to have your family & friends supporting you, but you are far more likely to recover with the assistance of professional treatment services. 75% of people struggling with substance use disorder never seek treatment. It’s important to begin your search for an addiction treatment and mental health center so you have a team of professionals guiding you through this process, informed by the science of addiction and recovery. Often addiction treatment centers will have options to help you safely detox and can build you a long-term treatment plan to help keep you on track and prevent relapse. Regular therapy can be an important part of your recovery to help you get to the root of your mental health issues, substance use, and triggers.
When you are mentally ready, physically safe, and ready to begin getting sober, it’s imperative to detox the substance from your body. Make sure you are in a safe environment and surrounded by support during this stage. It can take a ton of willpower to detox alone. Depending on the severity of use and how dependent your body has become on this substance, you may need to detox in a designated detox facility where medical professionals can monitor you. Be aware of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) in which you may experience irritability, heightened anxiety, low mood, or sleep problems while your body is getting used to being without the substance it depended on for so long.
5. Learn your triggers. Make a relapse prevention plan.
Substance use often develops as a coping mechanism in response to upsetting situations or stimuli. These stimuli that repeatedly trigger the urge for substance use are unique for everyone, but it’s important to be aware of what these are for you. For example, bars or alcohol-centered events can be very triggering for those struggling with alcohol use disorder. Once you have identified your triggers, make a plan for avoiding or coping with these triggers, so you can be prepared when these situations arise. For example, if you have a family wedding to attend but you know the drinking will be triggering for you, find yourself a sober accountability buddy to stay by your side during the wedding and plan for a set curfew when you need to leave. This can help mitigate those moments when temptation is strongest and you are more likely to relapse. Your prevention plans may change as your circumstances change or new triggers are discovered.
6. Implement changes in your daily routine.
Substance use can become so integrated in your daily life, it’s important to take note of your past routines and how it contributed to your substance use. Be honest with yourself about the moments in your day-to-day that often lead to substance use. Avoid your old routines and the habits that led to substance use. Are there moments when you’re stressed, such as on your lunch break at work, when you always reach for a cigarette to take the edge off? Change the way you take your lunch break to prevent falling back into that habit. When you get home from work at night, do you often crave a drink to help wind down? Be aware your cravings increase at the end of the day and see how you can switch up your routine so you can find alternative ways to use that time. Creating a new schedule to abide by can really help avoid those old triggers.
7. Find moments to celebrate & enjoy life in recovery.
Once you’ve gone through the initial stages of recovery and life starts to return to normal, it’s time to practice healthy living. It’s important to cultivate healthy relationships, a healthy physical state, and healthy emotional state. Exercising, eating right, and seeking out things that improve your quality of life on all levels can keep you on a path to recovery. Recovery is not easy so you should find new ways to let loose, have fun, and celebrate your milestones. You deserve it!
Professional Psychiatric Services is equipped with addiction specialists who can help you through your journey to recovery. Call or email us today to make an appointment.