Most times, it takes a good deal of effort and energy to become addicted to a substance, a behavior, or an emotion. After a while more and more time is spent feeding the addiction. The addiction can begin in many ways, it is not always because we want to check out, but once we are addicted our choices are diminished. We become slaves to our alcohol and drug addiction.
Then for whatever reason we hit bottom. We are forced to give up and admit our powerlessness over our addiction. We willingly seek help or we are forced to seek help. In the case of alcohol and drug addiction, detox and drug treatment is needed.
Sometimes, we have wasted decades of our lives, some times only a shorter period of time. We are challenged to confront our behavior and participation in the cycle of addiction. If the timing is right, the process begins to return us to ourselves.
We leave addiction treatment scared, hopeful, and energized. Then the real work begins. We have to find a way back into the real world: family obligations, work or school obligations, financial demands and so forth. In treatment we began the process of developing skills to address the daily stressors of living. Now back in our lives we have to make a monumental shift of incorporating what we learned in treatment into our lives.
We get mixed up, frightened, defensive, and overwhelmed when life happens. No one escapes the joy and pain of living. But, when we allow what we learned in addiction treatment to infiltrate every area of our lives, we find we are strong enough to face living one day at a time clean and sober. Recovery is about moving forward, not standing still.
Meetings such as AA and NA provide us with reminders of how painful active addiction can be, they provide us with the spiritual support of a community of like minded people (all working to stay clean and sober) and they provide us with a network of people to use as our support group. They can break through our isolation and give us a glimpse of serenity and peace.
Just as detox does not substitute for addiction treatment, treatment does not substitute for living life on life’s terms. Recovery is an ongoing process and it does not stop because we have completed a treatment program. It does not mean we have learned everything there is to learn about addiction, ourselves, or living in a healthy, life affirming manner. Recovery demands our being present, aware, open, and willing.
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