Have you been dealing with drug addiction? Have you tried everything to quit, but nothing seems to be working? There is hope, but you can’t do it alone. You will need support along the way.

Taking the First Step

There are many stages of the recovery process. And it truly is a process. It starts with a small first step; deciding you want to make a change. The stages of change include pre-contemplation, contemplation, and action. If you have gotten to the pre-contemplation stage, you have decided you need, and are willing to accept, help. It is agreed that there are a number of steps to the recovery process, including deciding to change, looking for help (exploring recovery), accepting help, early recovery, and active recovery and maintenance.

The 12-Step method of recovery is often a part of addiction recovery programs. The basis of the 12-Step program is creating a positive social network of support. Recovering addicts in these programs work to help one another stay clean and sober. The program helps you create a solid support network that can help you in your recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.), and Cocaine Anonymous (C.A.) all use the 12-Step method.

Making Changes

Often, with addiction, you will have connections with other users and may spend much of your time with those who use your drug of choice as well. Cutting off interaction with these people, if possible, will make your process easier. So you have cut off contact with users, but now you need help. Where do you turn?

There are a number of different rehabilitation treatment options available. The types of treatment include inpatient, outpatient, dual diagnosis/partial hospitalization programs (P.H.P.). This may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little research, you can choose the best fit for you. Many recovery programs begin with detox, where medical professionals can help you cope with withdrawal symptoms and assess your health and any need for medication to decrease symptoms or treat mental illness.

Treatment Options

Inpatient is a good option for those who need to recover without the distractions of their home life. Maybe you need to get away from others who are actively using around you, or the stress in your normal daily life make recovery difficult.

Outpatient treatment involves meeting with a therapist a few times a week. This means you will need to hold yourself accountable for getting to every appointment. This is important, and not as easy as it seems. Once you motivate yourself to make sure you make all of your appointments, you will be on the right path towards improving your priorities.

Partial hospitalization programs involve attending a treatment program at least 5 days a week. Some programs also run on weekends. This option is for those who do not pose an immediate risk to themselves or others, but require intensive treatment. Those struggling with mental illness or other issues that need more structured treatment can benefit from this type of program. The program consists of a series of therapy sessions or “classes” that may be one-on-one or in a group setting. PHP can also be beneficial as a step-down from an inpatient program, as it can be difficult to return home without support.

If the program you choose doesn’t fit you, don’t give up! Not all programs are the same. There is great variability in all forms of treatment. Before changing treatment options, however, it is important to keep your mind open.

Learning How to Cope

A major part of any recovery process is learning new ways to cope with stress and negative feelings. Where, in the past, you may have used your drug of choice to numb these feelings, you will need to learn what healthy methods of coping work for you. This is a learning process and you will need to be open to trying things you might not have been willing to try in the past. Recovering addicts can benefit from things like daily exercise, joining an art class, writing in a journal, taking a meditation or yoga class, or watching a funny movie when feeling sad or angry. It’s different for everyone. A.A. reminds recovering addicts to avoid becoming Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, or HALT, as these feelings are all triggers for relapse. Continuing to meet with a good therapist throughout the recovery process, and even long after you have stopped using, can be very helpful in maintaining a clean and sober life.

In your recovery program, you will assess all aspects of your addiction, including your triggers. Triggers are any variables that cause you to crave your drug of choice. Triggers can include anything, from the people you used to use with, places where drugs are available, or getting into an argument with a significant other. By uncovering your triggers, you will be able to create a plan to use positive coping when these triggers appear.

Recovery is a lifelong process that continues after you have stopped using. Attending N.A. or A.A. meetings, keeping a strong support network, and nurturing your mental health are all important parts of maintaining sobriety. Though the goal is to avoid relapse, for a successful recovery be prepared to get right back on track should this happen. Make recovery a priority, and don’t forget to ask for help!