The fun stopped
It is a real possibility that you never expected to become addicted when you started. Possibly you thought you were just having fun, and then - things got out of hand.
Perhaps you are now at a stage in your life where you recognize you have a problem. Your addictive behavior has taken over a big part of your life. As a result, you are depressed, anxious, and stressed. But – how to stop? You feel your addiction has taken on a life of its own, and you just can't stop.
Quitting alcohol, drug (or any addiction) can be very hard. So let's see if we can help you get some perspective.
There is a reason why quitting is hard.
Your impulse control and judgment are affected.
Addiction alters your brain's reward system. You now crave your addictive substance as a ‘rewarding experience,’ despite adverse consequences. Your substance of choice has rewired your brain, and therefore you are literally fighting against yourself. That’s why it can be hard to quit!
The good news is that it is not impossible. Yes, it is complicated as it is not just a physical process. There are also mental, biological, and emotional factors at play in every person. Some people found that they couldn’t have done it without professional treatment, while others are successful in quitting on their own.
To beat addiction, you must throw a spanner in the very mechanism that caused the addiction in the first place – your brain. With your behavior, you must start the rewiring process all over again, allowing you to live in healthier ways. It will take time but is well worth it.
Recognize these justifications in early recovery.
Don’t let your feelings work against you.
So, you know you want to change, but you feel so many things standing in your way. You’re uncomfortable and unhappy with experiencing a real depth of ‘feeling’ – perhaps for the first time in many years.
The problem is that you can start justifying your behavior to yourself and others. Be aware that this can stand in the way of your decision to quit. Remember, everyone busy with the ‘rewiring their brain’ will be invited back to their former lifestyle at one time or another. You must expect it because change won’t happen overnight.
‘I’ve already lost everything.’
As an addict, you try to avoid the results of your actions until they catch up with you. Called ‘rock bottom,’ this is a turning point for many, but some addicts may use this to justify the continuation of their actions. The damage is irreparable, they say.
‘I don’t deserve to be happy.’
Research shows that 50% of people with mental health issues also misuse substances. Some addicts feel that they don't deserve a healthy or happy life and need their substance of choice to alleviate anxiety or self-medicate. This can then become a loophole for continued use.
‘I’ll be ok now.’
After a period of sobriety, you might feel your life is back on track and that you can now handle the occasional drink or hit. However, this justification is dangerous as the progressive nature of addiction will quickly catch up with you.
‘It is life as I know it.’
For some, addiction is part of their social makeup. They share their substance of choice with their friends or romantic partners. It is easy to justify what you’re doing by turning back to the ‘norms’ that you know. Why should you stop if everyone is doing it?
Some more justifications are:
- Minimization:‘I don’t use as much as I did.’
- Comparisons:‘You drink just as much as I do!’
- The lesser of two evils:'You should be happy that I drink. Otherwise, I’ll be impossible to live with.’
- Defiance:I’d rather die young and happy than quit and have a miserable life.’
Sobriety is not an all-or-nothing approach.
Active addiction is not a fulfilling and normal existence. No matter how you may justify what you are doing, deep down you know that your addiction is progressively destroying you.
It is never too late to turn your life around. However, one major misconception about sobriety is that you should ‘go big or go home.’ It is not true. It took years for you to get here, and it is going to be a long haul to full recovery. On the way, there will be setbacks. The secret is not to give in to the irrational thoughts that keep you addicted.
At Largest Heart, we know quitting is not easy! That is why we have resources on our site to help you navigate your way forward. An excellent place to start is a support group and a personalized treatment program. The first step, however, is to admit that you need help. Won’t you take that step today?