You CAN live a SOBER LIFE again - CALL NOW for treatment options (800) 260-2109

Admitting You Have a Substance Abuse Problem

For many, the hardest step of recovery is admitting you have a problem. Denial is a powerful tool and often carries addicts through years of unnecessary suffering. According to a 2009 survey by SAMHSA, only 11% of the 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol problem received help at an addiction-based facility.

As addiction centers steer away from a “one size fits all” approach, addicts are discovering that there are countless ways to engage in recovery. Admitting you have a problem does not mean handing over the controls to a recovery team, but rather opens the doors to the formulation of a highly individualized treatment plan.

Making that leap from denial to action is a critical time period. Whether an addict reaches out to a trusted friend or family member or a treatment professional for help, it is most helpful to be aware of the physical, social, and emotional factors that are at play:

Physical

Withdrawals The more severe withdrawals from drug and alcohol abuse require medical monitoring. Symptoms of physical withdrawal run the gamut from shakiness and sleep disturbance to seizures and possibly even death. The severity of withdrawals is impacted by the frequency and duration of use as well as the types of substances that were being abused. Less severe symptoms can be monitored on an outpatient basis and often diminish within the first few days of sobriety.

Cravings In addition to navigating physical withdrawal symptoms, recovering addicts also experience the discomfort of cravings. Narcanon explains, “An addicted person experiencing drug cravings will feel like life itself is dependent on getting and consuming whatever substance is causing those cravings.” Identifying healthy replacement behaviors is a key step in addressing these symptoms. Cravings tend to decrease in frequency and duration as time goes by and successfully combatting them in early recovery often leads to the adoption of healthy long-term coping strategies.

Nutritional Factors Long-term drug and alcohol abuse wreaks havoc on the body. As a result, the adoption of a healthy diet and exercise regime is often incorporated into an addict’s treatment plan. Whether disease or more general dietary deficiencies are present, the introduction of a healthier lifestyle can yield promising results.

Social

Setting Boundaries with Existing Peers It comes as no surprise that addicts associate with other addicts. Aside from ensuring easy access to substances, these unhealthy connections reinforce the common cycle of denial. In early recovery, boundaries must be created between the addict and his former peer group. This is a daunting process, particularly for those addicts who have grown completely alienated from their healthier supports.

Formation of Sober Community As unhealthy associations are eliminated, it is critical that addicts begin to form relationships with individuals that can empathize. In both inpatient and outpatient treatment settings, sober peer support is encouraged. While trained professionals play a key role in the recovery process, the guidance and strength gleaned from other recovering addicts plays an invaluable role in long-term success.

Involvement in Sober Activities For addicts, socializing is often synonymous with substance use. Activities are selected based on a the availability of drugs and alcohol, while healthy hobbies and interests are placed on the back burner. Recovery programs encourage reintroducing these healthier social outlets as well as exploring new ones. Click here for a list of fun sober activities.

Emotional

Ending the Numbing Cycle Many addicts report using drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medicating or numbing. When life’s inevitable challenges surface, addicts turn to the “quick fix” afforded by substances. While it’s clear to non-addicts that drugs and alcohol are more of a problem than a solution, the addicted brain thrives on misguided distortions. In early recovery, addicts often report an onslaught of emotions. In addition to working through withdrawals and cravings, many years of suppressed feelings bubble up to the surface. Having the support of a treatment team can prove critical during this overwhelming time.

Forging Emotional Supports In addition to forging healthier social supports in early recovery, it’s also important that an emotional support system is secured. Feelings in early sobriety can range from shame and fear to depression and anxiety. Trained professionals can help addicts identify the source of these emotions while introducing evidence-based tactics to address them.

Establishing a Self-Care Routine Through the course of an addiction, everything from general hygiene to self-nurturing practices falls to the wayside. The universal goal of substance abuse treatment programs is to equip addicts with the tools necessary to maintain long-term sobriety. While the formation of social and emotional support systems is imperative, it’s also critical that the addict adopts a self-care routine. Attending to one’s physical and emotional needs on a daily basis reinforces self-respect and a commitment to long-term well-being. Learn more about self-care in recovery here.

Conclusion

Admitting you have a problem is the most critical step in the addiction journey. Introducing supports into what can be a highly alienating struggle makes the prospect of recovery far more navigable. Initially, the shifts that occur in early sobriety can feel overwhelming, but by understanding the physical, social, and emotional implications, addicts can remain in the driver’s seat from the onset of the journey.

Brene Brown quote - admitting you have a problem Rona Barrett quote - admitting you have a problem

Sources

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health http://www.narconon.org/drug-addiction/drug-cravings.html https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-statistics https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health


jen-anderson-addiction-counselorJen Anderson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Sobriety Coach, and former alcohol enthusiast living in Florida with her husband and son.

 

Related Articles

What to Expect When You Enter Addiction Counseling
The decision to seek help is a critical step in the recovery process. Addiction cannot be navigated alone and by enlisting the support of professionals, you can begin an individualized journey that addresses your unique needs. Below, you will find descriptions...
Top 10 Gifts for Your Newly Sober Friend
A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer. ― Seneca When a friend or loved one enters recovery, it’s safe to assume that they’re experiencing both physical a...
What to Expect When You Enter Rehab
I went into rehab to save my marriage, but I wound up saving myself." - Michael Douglas What is Rehab? Entering rehab can be an intimidating, but necessary step in the addiction journey. When outpatient interv...
House Passes CARA Bill to Fight Opioid Epidemic
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) Friday in a unanimous vote of 407-5 to fight the opioid epidemic. With existing support from the Senate, the bill is expected to swiftly move from Congress to President Obama for approval. While
What to Expect After One Year Sober
Reaching one year sober is a milestone worth celebrating. Often described by addicts as a physical and emotional “roller coaster”, the first twelve months of recovery are a force to be reckoned with. There is no shortage...
How Much Does Addiction Treatment Cost?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the second most common reason people did not receive substance abuse treatment is due to a lack of financial resources or a lack of health insurance. This follows the No. 1 reason, which is th...
10 Things to Expect in Early Sobriety
While your recovery is yours to design, it’s important to first recognize some universals that exist on the road to success. My personal and professional experiences with addiction have afforded me with a clear sense of some “givens” that will...
What Makes a Good Addiction Treatment Experience? Patients May Not Know, Study Says
Today, there are about 23 million people that struggle with addiction in the United States, yet only about 10 percent receive the treatment they need. Why do so many people not receive help? One reason could be that patients may not know what...
The Biggest Lies Addicts Tell
D.E.N.I.A.L. Don't Even kNow I'm Always Lying (to myself) Distorted perceptions result in choices and actions that are self-limiting at best and destructive at worst. Addiction turns a person's worldview into a...
Admitting You Have a Substance Abuse Problem
For many, the hardest step of recovery is admitting you have a problem. Denial is a powerful tool and often carries addicts through years of unnecessary suffering. According to a 2009 survey by SAMHSA, only 11% of the 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol problem received...