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Addiction or Recovery: You do have a Choice.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a cunning, subtle beast that sneaks up on you. No one starts out using alcohol, drugs, gambling, or food with the intent of becoming enslaved to them.
Addiction is the need, the absolute requirement to use again. It drives you to seek “it” out by any means possible. The body has become so accustomed to the substance that it now requires it to function in a normal manner.
Biologically the body adapts to everything we ingest, breath, inject, and absorb. Food, vitamins, herbs, medications, and other substances. The organs are programmed to filter, clean, and breakdown everything that comes through the body's many organs.
Addiction is not limited to illegal substances and alcohol, it can include anything from behaviors to seemingly benign items. The simplest way to state addiction is that driving need to satisfy a craving. When you cannot say no and mean it.
Science continues to research the mechanisms of addiction with the body. Studies on rats reveal the shifts and changes to our brain and organs. Drugs, alcohol, behaviors do alter our way of thinking, beliefs, and our interactions with the world around us.
From recreational use to addict can take years or days. Some people seem to be born to addiction. Science holds to the genetic predisposition theory.
Every addict at one time or another has sworn they will not become their parents before them, strung out on cigarettes, alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, gambling, overeating, or any of the other forms addiction takes. Yet, each find themselves chained to some form of addiction.
The more you use it the more it becomes a necessity to “feel normal.” Eventually the rules are thrown out and there are no limits you will go to for that next “fix.” Including but not limited to stealing from family, lying, cheating, stealing from businesses, hunting the streets, sex, bargaining, and any other behavior one can come up with to satiate that craving.
The Final Straw
One day you awaken to find yourself homeless and jobless, dirty, thirsty, and huddled in some corner wishing you could die.
Many do find their way to death by overdose or some other form of suicide. A.A. says "without help, it is too much for one to do alone." .
The last thing to go is the job. The rationale is as long as you have a job, there is no problem. Even when you find yourself sleeping in your car or a friend's couch. As long as you go to work every day, everything is fine. Functional addiction is still addiction, it is still a problem, because your paycheck is going to the addiction.
The car breaks down, your friend won't let you stay on the couch, the boss finally is done with your sloppy work, tardiness and missed days. You have nothing left. Where do you go from here?
There is a Choice
A life beyond addiction is possible. The decision is yours, even if you find yourself in jail. You can spend your life on the same cycle, going to jail for awhile, released and back doing the same thing again. Or you can take the “day at a time” option of remaining “clean,” free of the addiction and create a new life.
The courts can send you to 12-step meetings, where you will meet others like you. But there is nothing that says you have to stay off the addiction cycle. Get your court slip signed, hang outside of the meetings, mingle with like minded individuals, or find a seat and listen to those who have created a sober life. Learn what to do when cravings strike, when emotions get to be too much, and you feel as if you are going to explode if you do not find the next fix. Someone has been there before you and knows the way.
The Tools to Sobriety & Recovery
The decision to change one's life should not be taken lightly, it requires action. To change everything one knows, has spent a lifetime learning to live with, can seem daunting and frightening. If not this? Then what?
A newly recovering addict has many questions. For instance where to find help, what are 12-step meetings, and where are they? If you are court ordered talk with the person assigned to watch over you or the courts. You may begin with the resources listed at the end of this article.
It took you time to learn how to live a life of addiction, it will take time to change it.
Addicts have many demons to face, their names are Shame, Guilt, Fear, and Pain. You do not have to face these demons on your own. There are others who have gone before you, know the path, and will aid you in your journey. An addict alone is not in good company. Your imagination will take over. Nothing occurs overnight. Picking up the next drug or drink is not an easy task, it does not just come to you, there is effort in gaining it. So it is with recovery. Do not give up, take the next step towards your freedom.
Select a 12-step meeting, try different ones, reach out, get phone numbers, read the literature, talk to people, listen to those who share. Take the time to get to know those in the meetings, many are there for recovery. There are others who have chosen to practice the same lifestyle without the substance.
Let go of old playmates, places and clean out your paraphernalia. Take advantage of the treatment programs available. Outpatient and residential treatment centers are available. County funded programs will not turn you away because you have no money. They do ask you to find a way to pay for treatment when you are able. Ask questions, search and you will find what you seek. Addiction does not have to be all there is to life. Recovery is real and it happens every day.
Resources to get you Started
Alcoholics Anonymous: Plenty to read, meeting schedules, and a hotline for you to call. Volunteers will even come to you and take you to your first meeting.
Narcotics Anonymous: This site also contains literature, meeting schedule, hotline, and volunteers to help you find your way.
Other 12-step fellowships include cocaine, marijuana, over-eaters, gamblers, sex addiction, cigarettes & nicotine, anorexia, bulimia, and many others. Do a search for your addiction, you will find a fellowship to help.Recovery World offers a list of every recovery resource imaginable, or nearly.
Professional resources include SAMHSA where you can find materials pertaining to addictions and mental health disorders with recovery resources. National Institute of Mental Health offers a listing of publications for reading and listings of professional organizations that will offer you help. Both of these websites offer a directory of various services, resources, and publications filled with information to aid you in your journey of recovery.
The variety of recovery organizations is amazing. SMART Recovery, Recovery.org (a search provider of recovery organizations), and many other alternative recovery programs to the 12-step process.
May this article help you on your way to an addiction free life. “Don't leave before the miracle.”