It is hard enough to find your way to the realization there is a problem with the way you use alcohol or drugs, but once you get there, there are a number of challenges that can block the road to recovery.
• Staying out of denial: It is much easier to slip back into the thinking and behaviors that have led you to this point of loss of control with substances. The power of the addictive mind, or that little addict voice as I call it, is tremendous. This voice is the one that has justified, rationalized and manipulated you into this corner. It wants you to keep using and drinking and has probably come up with a master list of "good reasons" to not look at the problem. You may have to do battle with this voice on a daily; even sometimes on an hour-to-hour basis.
• Asking for help: This is the jump of faith that must be made and is based on the understanding that you cannot do this alone. Not asking for help for some of us has been a long-term way of life in all areas of our lives. We like to feel we can manage, work through and figure our way out of our "own stuff." Add this to the top sellers, "I am too ashamed" and "This is nobodies business anyway" and you can get stuck. Remember asking for help shows strength not weakness.
• Building a team: Once you are clear that things have gotten out of control, and that you need help, it's time to build a team to help you get into recovery. This team should include some of the basics; such as telling someone you trust about the problem, this is also a big shame buster. There are many avenues for help with inpatient facilities, intensive outpatient programs, 12-step meetings, counseling, physicians, medication, friends and family. This team is part of your recipe for success. I would also caution you to beware of pushing away from your team; this is a sign of pending relapse.
• Stick with your plan: Once you have this great support and begin to attend counseling sessions, meet with your physician, sponsor and friend and family you will begin to learn a lot about those unanswered questions of "Why me?" "How did I get here?" and "How do I stay clean and sober?" There will be challenging times ahead with holidays, special occasions and other triggers that will confront you. There is assurance in the one day at a time motto.
• Over confidence: Once you have begun your recovery and have learned a great deal about yourself and what it takes to be and stay in recovery, there is a tendency to become overconfident. Over confidence is one of the three biggest reasons people relapse. It is recognizable by the thoughts of "There is nothing that could ever make me drink again." Relapse, yes, here is that ugly word we don't want to hear could be at your door. So if your team becomes tiresome and you don't feel you have the time or need to go to groups, doctors, counselors, take medications and you begin to shut out your friends, family and sponsor, you are on the road to relapse.
The initial six months of recovery are just the beginning, the first year is tough and recovery will need to be a part of your lifestyle. Remember, it makes everything else in life possible, i.e. good relationships, job performance, self-confidence and happiness. OK, you are armed and ready, now is always the best time to take the leap into recovery!
Gigi Veasey is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed independent substance abuse counselor and executive director of Alcohol Recovery Solutions, Inc., a licensed outpatient clinic for addiction in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (480) 496-9760 or visit www.bigsteptorecovery.com.