It can be a daunting prospect to realise that alcohol or drugs has control of you rather than the other way round.
Addiction is one of the few diseases and the WHO acknowledge it as such that sufferers deny and look for other possible justifications.
There are many questions newcomers have and we have tried capture some of the more commonly asked questions:
Do I really have a problem?
One of the fundamental differences between an alcoholic/addict and a heavy drinker/user is the inability to stop despite negative consequences.
This one can be easily tested over an extended period of time by telling yourself that you will only drink on ‘Fridays’ or use at the weekend.
Write it down and make it clear what you are committing to-Review after a couple of weeks, a couple of months or even a year and see where you are.
This is a good indicator.
Can I use in moderation?
Another trait of addiction is the ability-or lack thereof- to have ‘one’ drink/hit etc.
An addict is likely to constantly want more whilst a non addict can have a glass of wine with dinner and stop.
- Does my drinking/using have negative and recurring consequence?
- Am I suffering (physically, mentally, emotionally) as a result of my using?
- Should I stop because of these negative consequences?
- Can I stop?
All questions that may indicate (or not) your use is more than just recreational.
Obviously the occasional hangover would not necessarily suggest an addiction but regular physical, mental or emotional ramifications as a result of using may require further investigation.
If your drinking means you are unable to perform at work or become dishonest and unreliable in personal relationships then the sane decision to make would be to curb your drinking.
At this point you may want to ask the earlier question – Can I stop?
This questionnaire may help you to decide.
Do I have to stop forever?
Most treatment centres will advocate complete abstinence.
12 step fellowships also advocate complete abstinence and whilst this may feel overwhelming and unrealistic in the early days as time passes many realise that a life without Alcohol and drugs is far more rewarding and enjoyable.
Many see their addiction as a coping mechanism for their life and through therapy and support groups this negative strategy can be replaced by a far more healthy and productive means.
The question of nurture or nature is a well-trodden path. It is undoubtedly true that there is a pattern of addiction throughout the generations of many families but whether this suggests a genetic connection is up for debate.
Many believe that it is as a result of poor education in learnt ‘coping mechanisms’. Others believe it is in the genes. Either way the important thing is to accept that you are an alcoholic/addict and not why.
The ‘Why’ has very little bearing on the success or otherwise of your recovery.
Moreover the anger and resentment that can be found in those confused as to why they cant drink or use like their peers can be a major stumbling block to recovery.
Do I need to change people, places and things?
Whilst an addiction is far more deeply rooted than an individual’s environment it is true that many circumstances can be seen and act as triggers.
It would be misguided to spend all your time in the pub having given up alcohol or regularly visit a drugs den having decided to give up heroin. Many associate a situation or a circumstance with drinking. Flying and airports can be massive triggers for some.
In these situations it is always important to have a safety plan (someone you can call, an action you can take..) to protect yourself.
In the short term such ‘triggers’ should be avoided although in the long term a freedom from addiction means that no places are theoretically off bound.
Clearly it is not realistic to avoid airports or never visit a restaurant again it would however be questionable if you decided to regularly visit places or spend time with people who would encourage your addiction.
Adopting caution in certain circumstances would be advisable regardless of your length of sobriety.
Is there a life after Recovery?
Many sufferers see their using as a vital component of life. In the early years a suffer can feel more confident, likeable, pretty and charismatic as a result.
Over time the ‘rewards’ can diminish. It becomes more of a need than a want.
It is common for confidence and self esteem to diminish over a protracted period of time to such a degree that some need to take a drink before walking out the door and facing the world.
It is important to develop new coping mechanisms or life skills.
Those who get sober but have not addressed (or don’t continue to address) the underlying issues can find themselves more unhappy than when they were drinking. This is commonly known as ‘white knuckle’ recovery as we are just hanging on.
This illustrates the value of therapy, life coaches and ongoing treatment in conjunction with support groups to maintain recovery.
Those who do so will tell you stories of how their life has improved immeasurably as a result – see our testimonial section for a selection of inspiring stories.
Their health is better, they have more energy and a greater outlook on life.
A life free of your addiction can be immeasurably more rewarding than one controlled by it.
Camino Recovery specialises in dealing with the effects and causes of addiction and develops a plan for long time recovery.