Is there life after Recovery from Addiction
It can be a daunting prospect to realize that alcohol or drugs has control of you rather than the other way around. It asks the question, “Is there life after recovery from addiction?”
There are many questions newcomers have and we have tried capture some of the more commonly asked questions:
Do I really have a problem?
One of the fundamental differences between an alcoholic/addict and a heavy drinker/user is the inability to stop despite negative consequences.
This one can be easily tested over an extended period of time by telling yourself that you will only drink on ‘Fridays’ or use at the weekend.
Write it down and make it clear what you are committing to. Review after a couple of weeks, a couple of months or even a year and see where you are.
This is a good indicator.
Can I use in moderation?
Another trait of addiction is the ability—or lack thereof— to have ‘one’ drink/hit etc.
An addict is likely to constantly want more whilst a non addict can have a glass of wine with dinner and stop.
- Does my drinking/using have negative and recurring consequence?
- Am I suffering (physically, mentally, emotionally) as a result of my using?
- Should I stop because of these negative consequences?
- Can I stop?
All questions that may indicate (or not) your use is more than just recreational.
Obviously, the occasional hangover would not necessarily suggest an addiction but regular physical, mental or emotional ramifications as a result of using may require further investigation.
If your drinking means you are unable to perform at work or become dishonest and unreliable in personal relationships, then the sane decision to make would be to curb your drinking.
At this point you may want to ask the earlier question—Can I stop?
Do I have to stop forever?
Most treatment centers will advocate complete abstinence.
12 step fellowships also advocate complete abstinence and whilst this may feel overwhelming and unrealistic in the early days as time passes many realize that a life without Alcohol and drugs is far more rewarding and enjoyable.
Many see their addiction as a coping mechanism for their life and through therapy and support groups this negative strategy can be replaced by a far more healthy and productive means.
The question of nurture or nature is a well-trodden path. It is undoubtedly true that there is a pattern of addiction throughout the generations of many families but whether this suggests a genetic connection is up for debate.
Many believe that it is as a result of poor education in learnt ‘coping mechanisms’. Others believe it is in the genes. Either way the important thing is to accept that you are an alcoholic/addict and not why.
The ‘Why’ has very little bearing on the success or otherwise of your recovery.
Moreover, the anger and resentment that can be found in those confused as to why they can’t drink or use like their peers can be a major stumbling block to recovery.
Do I need to change people, places and things?
Whilst an addiction is far more deeply rooted than an individual’s environment it is true that many circumstances can be seen and act as triggers.
It would be misguided to spend all your time in the pub having given up alcohol or regularly visit a drug den having decided to give up heroin. Many associate a situation or a circumstance with drinking. Flying and airports can be massive triggers for some.
In these situations it is always important to have a safety plan (someone you can call, an action you can take) to protect yourself.
In the short term such ‘triggers’ should be avoided although in the long term a freedom from addiction means that no places are theoretically off bound.
Clearly it is not realistic to avoid airports or never visit a restaurant again. It would, however, be questionable if you decided to regularly visit places or spend time with people who would encourage your addiction.
Adopting caution in certain circumstances would be advisable regardless of your length of sobriety.
Is there a life after Recovery?
Many sufferers see their using as a vital component of life. In the early years a sufferer can feel more confident, likeable, pretty and charismatic as a result.
Over time the ‘rewards’ can diminish. and it becomes more of a need than a want.
It is common for confidence and self-esteem to diminish over a protracted period of time to such a degree that some need to take a drink before walking out the door and facing the world.
It is important to develop new coping mechanisms or life skills.
Those who get sober but have not addressed (or don’t continue to address) the underlying issues can find themselves more unhappy than when they were drinking. This is commonly known as ‘white knuckle’ recovery as we are just hanging on.
This illustrates the value of therapy, life coaches and ongoing treatment in conjunction with support groups to maintain recovery.
A life free of mood and mind altering substances is far more rewarding and exciting than a life with….
Just be brave and take the first step.
About the Author
I was brought up on the outskirts of London. I struggled with my own personal addictions over twenty years before finding recovery in South Africa where I spent 10 years before returning to the Uk in 2014. Family bereavement led to a reassessment of my life and a career change. I relocated to Spain two years ago where I have been working at www.caminorecovery.com. at camino we are concerned with Addiction, trauma and anxiety.