Dealing with alcohol or drug addiction can be one of the biggest struggles in your life. You know that regularly taking drugs or drinking too much is bad for you, but this knowledge alone isn’t enough to help you stop. Lots of people kick their addictions every single day, so it can be done.
However, you have to realise that this will be a process – it’s not going to happen overnight, or even over a couple of nights. It can take weeks, sometimes even months for you to kick a drug or alcohol addiction. But, the important thing is that it can be done, and you can get your life back on track.
Some people can get over their addiction all on their own – or with support from friends & family. Similarly, the majority of addicts struggle to fully get over their addiction without professional assistance. By going to a rehab clinic and receiving different treatment options, it can provide a better long-term solution.
Before you consider any treatment options, the first step is standing up and saying to yourself; I am an addict, and I need help. By doing this, you can come to terms with this revelation and go down the road to recovery.
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Before you scream help, I’m addicted to drugs, you need to know if you’re actually suffering from addiction. If you have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer every night, then does that mean you suffer from alcohol addiction? This may be a bad habit, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an addict.
Bearing that in mind, here are some signs that tell you you’ve got a serious problem on your hands:
Do you notice a remarkable change in your behaviour – and not for the better? If mood swings are a standard part of your life, then it could point to drug addiction. Also, if you no longer feel like doing anything or socialising with your friends, then that’s another warning sign. You might start to feel closed off from society and want to spend time on your own. Again, if this is accompanied by alcohol or drug use, then it’s a telltale sign of addiction.
Alongside any behavioural changes, addictions cause physical alterations as well. A common sign is a change in your weight. Drug abuse can lead to rapid weight loss, while alcohol addiction sometimes leads to excessive weight gain. If you feel like your body is changing, and you don’t know why, then it might be because of an addiction.
Similarly, look at your appearance; have you stopped caring for yourself? Has your hair grown out? Have you stopped shaving? These are all signs that an addiction has taken over you.
Drugs and alcohol affect your mind. As a result, you will experience significant mental changes. Often, drug addiction can increase feelings of depression or mental anxiety. Not only that, but you start to feel dependent on these substances. Do you feel like you’re going crazy when you haven’t had a drink for more than a few hours? Is your brain telling your body that you need to take drugs to feel a release? These mental changes are often accompanied by other physical changes, such as persistent shaking, tremors, sweating, and headaches.
If you experience any of these signs, and you know you’re regularly using drugs, then you most probably have an addiction. Now, it’s time to work on kicking it.
We briefly touched upon mental health and addiction in the section above. However, it’s a vital topic, so we need to go over it in more detail.
There’s a strong link between addiction and mental health, and it usually stems from the cause of your addiction. A lot of people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of combatting mental health problems. If you’re depressed or anxious, then you want to soothe your symptoms and find a way to remove yourself from regular situations. By taking drugs and getting high, this helps you do just that.
The same goes for alcohol addiction; you turn to alcohol to get drunk and forget about your mental health issues.
In turn, this sends you down a very slippery slope. Mental health issues are no joke, and you should seek help for them. This can be challenging, and many people look for the ‘easy’ option in drugs or alcohol.
The problem is that you start associating the effects of these substances with the feeling of relief. You start thinking to yourself; the only way I can feel better is if I get drunk or get high. As such, you see substances as a cure – which is a dangerous way to view them.
To compound matters, being addicted to drugs will make your mental health problems even worse. Your symptoms of depression, anxiety – or any other mental health issue – will be exacerbated when you’re not on drugs. It can get to the point where you almost can’t live without them, and that’s when the addiction really takes hold of your life.
Curing a drug or alcohol addiction is no easy feat – but it is possible. Like we said earlier, the first step is acceptance. Accept that you are an addict, and that you need to do something about it.
The main thing holding people back from curing an addiction is a denial of the fact that they have one. After all, how can you kick an addiction if you don’t believe you have one? Look at the telltale signs listed above, and use them to come to terms with the fact that you have a drug addiction.
From here, there are some actionable steps you can take:
After admitting to yourself that you have an addiction, you should admit it to other people. There’s a chance some of your friends or family members have approached you about this before, and you shut them down. So, now’s the time to apologise to them and let them know that you’re an addict.
This can be a very emotional and tough thing to do, but you will benefit from it. Just saying it out loud and letting people know will make you feel a great release. Plus, you now have a sense of accountability; there are people you love and care about who know you have a problem, so you owe it to them to get clean.
Also, by speaking to your friends & family, they can offer some much-needed emotional support, which will help you get through some tough patches.
Of course, you can’t quit drinking alcohol or taking drugs if you continue to do so. As such, you have to wean yourself off the substances. This is definitely the hardest part. You can try and go cold turkey and just cut them out completely, but this won’t always work.
If you’ve only been addicted for a short time, or are starting to show signs of addiction, then going cold turkey can work for you. But, if your addiction is long-term, then the consequences of going cold turkey are too much for you to handle, and you’ll likely slip back into your bad habits.
So, you can attempt a gradual process instead. Again, this will be hard, but try and limit your alcohol consumption or drug usage day by day, week by week. Slowly but surely, your body will adjust to the lack of substances, until you stop taking them altogether.
Addiction is just like any other health problem in that it’s caused by something. There was an event, or something happened to you, which made you start taking drugs and developing this dependence. For some, it might have happened when you went out with your friends. You were looking to have a fun time, so you started taking drugs or getting really drunk. You loved how it felt, and your friends found it cool, so you carried on.
In this instance, you should avoid going out with your friends until you’ve kicked the addiction. Being out in a club may trigger thoughts that want you to start taking drugs or getting blackout drunk.
The same goes for addiction caused by mental health problems. In this situation, you should seek help for your mental health issues if you truly want to kick your drug habit.
A significant problem with drug addiction is that you think it only affects yourself. There’s a typical response when people might confront you about your habits; why do you care? It’s my body, I can do what I want.
The issue with this is that it doesn’t just affect you. When you’re an addict, you impact other people’s lives as well. Your family and friends suffer because of you. Many people have torn their family apart and become estranged parents to their children due to their addictive habits.
So, stop thinking about the damage you cause yourself, and start thinking about how your addiction harms others. When you put other people at the centre of this, then it gives you more encouragement to seek help and beat your addiction.
If you follow the steps laid out above, then you might get over your addiction. However, this isn’t always the case, and it can sometimes be inadvisable to kick an addiction without proper addiction treatment.
Consequently, it’s much safer and more effective if you explore other treatment options, such as rehab. By doing to a rehab centre, you will end up with various solutions to help you – like the following:
Detoxes – Most residential rehab centres provide detoxes for people suffering from drugs and alcohol addiction. The aim of a detox is to get rid of the harmful substances lingering in your body. It cleanses your system, which helps to stop your body from craving the effects of drugs or alcohol.
Cognitive behavioural therapy – This is a type of therapy that focuses on training your mind to think about drugs differently. It addresses your main triggers and teaches you how to stop falling victim to them. You learn how to control your feelings and avoid being tempted into taking drugs.
Counselling – Counselling sessions are available at both residential rehab centres and outpatient rehab clinics. These can be one-on-one sessions with a professional, talking about your problems, and giving you advice on how to stay clean. Group sessions are also common, and you can discuss issues with people in similar situations to you, gaining a sense of accountability.
Certain rehab clinics offer different treatments, and they sometimes come together to form part of a 28-day rehab program. Here, you move into the rehab centre for 28 days, freeing yourself from all your main temptations.
By doing this, it’s easier to learn how to live without alcohol and drugs by avoiding your bad habits. After the 28-day period, you’ll still go back to a rehab clinic now and then to continue counselling and ensure you stay on the path to recovery.
The benefits are mainly that you get a longer list of treatment options – and help is provided by experienced professionals. Some of the things provided in rehab centres can’t be obtained on your own.
Furthermore, it’s a safer option for you as well. When you stop taking drugs, your body won’t respond positively. It can shutdown, make you feel sick, and lead to lots of different health problems.
This is why people find it hard to go cold turkey and quit for good. At a rehab clinic, you’re provided with medication to help calm the negative symptoms of drug detox. When you’re in a controlled environment, the effects are more positive, and you can get through it without relapsing. (See what happens in rehab?)
If you’ve been searching for addiction help in my area, then we can assist you. Give us a call on 0203 955 7700, and we’ll help provide free consultation on the steps you need to take next. We work with various rehab centres and clinics around the UK, and we can help you find the best options to take care of your addiction.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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