- Mental Health
Why Addictions Is A Lifelong Fight
Erica had a good childhood. She had two parents who loved her, siblings who cared about her, a safe home, and access to a good education. But, Erica didn’t make the right friends. She fell in with a group who drank, smoked, and did drugs. Crumbling under peer pressure, Erica began to join in with these activities and soon she was addicted, at least to the drinking and smoking. As she grew older, her relationships with her parents and siblings began to crumble, but still she drank and smoked.
Erica got married young, which was pretty typical in her town. Her husband also drank and smoked and dabbled in drug use. Even when she was pregnant with their two children, neither of them stopped. They couldn’t, even if they wanted to, which is when Erica realized she was addicted. She tried to stop, but her will-power was too weak and her husband was no help. In fact, the older their children got, the more he drank and the angrier he became. Soon, he was lashing out at Erica and yelling at their children. One night, after hitting her around for a bit, he drove off, only to be involved in a horrible car accident. Because he was drunk at the time of the accident, he was thrown in prison.
While this should have been a turning point for Erica, she fell in to old habits. She remarried a man just as bad as the first. Soon, her children from the first marriage, now teenagers, were drinking and smoking just as much as she was. Several years later, she woke up with horrible pains across her stomach. At the hospital, it was discovered that her liver was failing. For the first time since she was a teenager, Erica was told she needed to stop drinking and smoking if she wanted to survive past forty. So, she tried. She cut alcohol out and began feeling better. Then she cut out smoking, and her health began to steadily improve.
If this was the end of Erica’s story, then it would be a happy ending. Yes, she had been addicted to alcohol, but her health forced her to turn her life around. Unfortunately, her lifestyle choices didn’t just change her life, they changed the life of her children, too. Because of her addiction to alcohol, Erica’s oldest son, Junior, also became addicted, having access to liquors and beers from a young age. He drank more and more as he grew older, dropping out of high school and taking a job as a construction worker. But, after showing up drunk and hungover to work several times, Junior was fired and forced to move back in with his parents. Still, he couldn’t stop drinking. Most of his days were spent in a drunken stupor, unable to get out of bed, much less look for and keep a job. Junior fought with depression, but he felt his alcoholism, and all the problems it caused in his life, were impossible for him to overcome. One night, he left his mother’s house, sat down in the yard, and shot himself in the head.
That’s the problem with addictions to drugs and alcohol. Not only do they change and destroy the lives of those addicted, but they have a way of seeping into the lives of those around the addicts. These addictions have ways of creating problems and then creating such a sense of hopelessness and negativity that the problems seem impossible to overcome. And no one is safe from these feelings.
Patrick J. Kennedy said, “No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.” This is seen more and more as people who are thought to be happy, who in peoples’ minds ‘should’ be happy, are collapsing under the pressure that is caused by addiction and depression. John Belushi, an amazing actor and a man perceived as being happy, struggled with addictions his entire life. He even described falling back in to alcoholism: “It’s [addiction] not caused by anything, it’s just there. It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK’. Then, the next you know, it’s not OK.” Belushi struggled with his addictions until his death, which was caused by an overdose of heroin and cocaine.
Addiction is a very emotionally driven disease. Negative feelings drive people to their different vices, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, tempting them with the idea of escape. And, for a few minutes or hours, the substances do dull the pain and erase the feelings of sadness, loneliness, and depression. In some cases, these addictions might even give a euphoric sensation, making the addict feel amazing. And then the drugs, and the escape they provided, wear off, moving from pleasure back to the reality the addict wanted to escape. And this back and forth, the highs the addiction provides followed by the lows, began to take a toll on the addicts relationships, health, and happiness. Still, that craving is there.
There is escape, though. A real, long-lasting, permanent escape from the ups and downs of addiction. Once the true reasons a person is abusing drugs and/or alcohol are realized, they can find a safe place to discuss these truths, no matter how painful they are, and start the healing process. As addicts begin to understand and learn about themselves and why they enter into such destructive behavior, with the help of friends, family, and professionals, their path to healing can begin.
Addiction recovery is a long, continuous process. It isn’t easy and will take commitment and dedication, but it is very possible. And once addicts begin their journey to recovery, they’ll begin to see their lives, health, and relationships begin to turn around. One of the first keys to getting through recovery is for an addict to become aware that they are responsible for their actions. This will allow them to hold themselves, instead of those around them, accountable for their actions.
Secondly, an addict needs to face and resolve the true reason for these addictions. These emotional challenges serve as triggers that can push the addict back towards their vice. However, once an addict is holding himself or herself accountable and is aware of these emotional vices, the hooks that the addiction has are weakened.
Finally, addictions aren’t as easy as stopping and getting back to normal. Alcohol and drugs can change addicts’ entire biochemistry, causing unbalance and conflict within the body. This makes it physically harder for these addictions to be overcome. However, there are alternative support measures that can be taken to bring balance back to the body. This will help improve the general feelings of well-being that addicts will have as they fight their addictions.
While there is no magic ingredient or secret process that can be used to fight addiction, there are certain steps that have been proven to help the process. These steps will act as a roadmap for the addict to follow, so they can have a clear idea of what they need to do to reach their goals.
The first step is finding a counselor or a group to help and support the addict. One is option joining a 12-step program. These programs, usually anonymous, provide a support system for addicts, comprised of people who have been through the same situation as other addicts. Because the members in these groups are usually at different stages in their recovery, they will have invaluable advice and insight on how to fight, and overcome, addiction.
When following a spiritual path, there is an increase in happiness and a reduction in sadness. Even when people encounter a situation that should be painful or traumatic, they have experienced being shielded from the pain.
The studies have shown that the act of meditation and prayers helps minimize the likelihood of relapse. These times of quiet reflection are also perfect for discovering and facing the deep emotional reasons for addiction. Sincere prayers can give addicts a reprieve from their daily fight. There are plenty of guides online and certified meditation coaches that can help create a meditation system that works. For the guided prayers, here is a good resource to start with.
Having a healthy and balanced diet is important for everybody, but it’s even more vital for recovering addicts. As mentioned above, the chemicals in drugs and alcohol can wreak havoc on the body. Following a proper diet plan and eating properly, with all the nutrients and vitamins needed, can help the body heal from all the abuse it’s endured.
There are also more complex reasons that diet is so important for recovering addicts. Proper food can boost moods and decrease the likelihood of sadness and depression. Plus, because many addicts have had a very heavy diet of drugs and alcohol, sometimes they don’t recognize the body’s signals that it’s hungry, mistaking these hunger pangs to be drug cravings. Eating proper, filling meals will decrease the probability of this happening.
Sometimes the world gets crazy and loud. Taking a few moments out of the day to record thoughts and feelings can help recovering addicts focus themselves. Plus, through these entries, they’ll be able to see how they’ve improved over their recovery time. Nothing spurs a person forward like seeing how far they’ve already come.
Drugs and alcohol addictions are not easy to deal with. They can change lives, and not just those of the addict, but the lives of everyone around them. By taking control of their addiction and taking the proper steps towards recovery, addicts can turn their lives around.