The journey from being a rational and healthy person into a person with an addiction can generally be a slow process. It may start with a moment of either peer pressure or a moment of anxiety thinking that if I fill my body with this substance, I will feel better. In that first moment of trying drugs, alcohol, or food as a source of comfort, the addict finds relief. Instantly feel soothed, elated, or altered from the anxious or undesired state in which they were feeling trapped. Having fixed themselves for a matter of a few minutes or an hour or two with drugs, alcohol, or food, life seems bearable. Until reality comes crashing down and the hangover from the effects of the toxins that they have released into their body takes effect. If you have ever had a hangover after a New Year’s Eve party or a sugar hangover after eating half of the leftover birthday cake, you know what I mean.
However, an addict continues this destructive process for as long as they can until they arrive at the place called, “their bottom”. The bottom is the place where an addict feels desperate, alone, isolated, lost, sometimes feeling broken, and possibly, suicidal. Every addict hits bottom at a different time, a different place, and in a personal way. It is from this place, the bottom, that an addict can take the first step toward recovery. The first step is admitting to yourself that I have a problem and I might need help. More clearly stated an addict of any kind must WANT help in order for recovery to be successful.
Taking the first steps to overcome an addiction is a surmounting task and must seem daunting to anyone who struggles to win their fight with drugs, alcohol, or over-eating. Like a toddler at the bottom of the steps at the Empire State Building, an addict may want to step up to recovery but the view from the bottom step is a seemingly impossible mission to reach the top, which is a sober and clean life. So, many a person with an addiction turns away in defeat or fear before even taking the first step.
Therefore, I have narrowed it down to a flight of SIX STEPS.
- Step One – Recognize that you have a problem
- Step Two – Ask for Help
- Step Three – Find a Program suitable for YOU
- Step Four – Take Action and Connect
- Step Five – Prayer or Meditation
- Step Six – Help Others
STEP ONE is recognizing that you have a problem. (sometimes it’s a little thought at the back of your mind that you think you might have a problem) Listen carefully to yourself if you have that thought!
STEP TWO is ASKING for HELP. So that may sound pretty basic to most people, easy, right!?! NO! Terrifying!! Actually!
Asking for help is the most terrifying thing in the world for so many people because it means that you cannot manage life on your own. AND, for many addicts, whether you are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or food, it means, in their own mind, that there is something wrong with them. It means that they are not perfect, that they are broken and need to be fixed, and cannot help themselves.
Now that might sound a little or a lot crazy to the average person, to a person who does not struggle with addiction but I am trying to let you know how an addict thinks because I am an alcoholic who is in recovery. And that is how I think or thought when I was new to recovery. And even now I am struggling to admit to the world as I write this that I am in recovery. Do I want the world to know? But I realize that honesty is important because otherwise, why would you believe a word that I say as truth?
I have been through the journey and I can share my experience. I will not hide in fear because fear is the enemy of sobriety.
So, I encourage everyone to step up to their fear and ASK FOR HELP from a family member or a trusted friend or clergy member, or doctor. ANYONE! if you think you might have a problem. I have seen too many people die because they were afraid to ask for help. Please do not let the next person be you! YOU Matter! I CARE!
STEP THREE is finding a course of treatment that is right for you. There are many to choose from so it is important to do your research and that is why it is also important to have someone that you trust that can help you.
Drug Addiction needs medical intervention as there are Detox, Rehabilitation & Treatment steps to follow. Insurance can be used in many cases and it is important to look into whether in-patient care or out-patient care is more suitable. There are 12-Step programs available Narcotics Anonymous. NA
There are 12-Step programs available online and in-person for Alcoholics such as Alcoholics Anonymous, AL anon, Alateen. AA
There are 12-Step programs for Food Addicts, Overeaters Anonymous is one example, working with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders is another method of working through food-related issues. OA Women Food and Healing Psychotherapy
STEP FOUR – Take Action and Connect Sign up for treatment!!!!! And follow the program for which you signed up to the best of your ability. Be all IN!
The opposite of addiction is connection! Build a network of friends who are on a clean and sober journey. People who share the same goals in life for clean living. Through a connection with others like you, you no longer have to be alone, lonely, isolated. You learn to develop honest, open, truthful, and deep connections with other men and women like yourself. True friendships! Have fun, laugh with them, laugh at yourself. Connection creates joy in your life. Yoga for Addiction
STEP FIVE – Pray and/or Meditate Whatever this means to you. If you have prayers from your childhood, recite them over and over again until you fall asleep. If you cannot remember the words, look them up. If you need to find a prayer that is easy, look up the Serenity Prayer and repeat it over and over multiple times. It’s easy. It’s repetitive. Just do it until it becomes a habit. You might ask why. Actions and thoughts that we repeat over and over again become our regular thoughts and actions so just do these prayers repetitively. And they will become your new thoughts. Fear is your enemy. The antithesis to Fear is Faith!
Meditation classes are offered at Body Positive works Yoga studios. Try one to see how it feels to you! Meditation classes
STEP SIX – the last step Help others – that’s it! Help others every day. Do whatever you can to help other people without stressing yourself out. Start with simple things like holding a door open for the next person, paying for someone’s coffee, if you can afford to pay for it of course. Letting someone go in front of you in line. Be kind.
Just like the journey into addiction is a slow process; the journey out of addiction and into recovery is also slow. However, due to the intelligent and impulsive nature of the addictive brain, drug addicts, food addicts, and alcoholics may lack the patience to take it slow and easy and might struggle to follow program guidelines. Additionally, some addicts have compounded issues of anxiety or depression to add to their treatment programs which they have been self-medicating with their drug of choice over the course of time and now have to find other healthy courses of treatment. These issues complicate any steps of recovery.
My advice is to leave your old brain at the door and start recovery with an open mind. When you confront the bully of your addiction you free up the mental space of your mind to be free once and for all. I wish you a free, joyous life because it is wonderful on the other side.