Addiction is a complex medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. Once addictive substances have rewired your brain’s chemistry, it can feel impossible to stop using.
Quitting drugs and alcohol is a courageous—and difficult—decision to make. But for many people, one of the largest barriers to sobriety is not being sure how to approach their recovery.
If you’re ready to take the leap, read on to learn about three of the most important steps you can take when overcoming addictions to alcohol or drugs.
Find a Support System
The first and most important step on your journey to recovery is finding a reliable support system to guide you through the tough times ahead.
Depending on the severity of your addiction, your support system might take different forms. For some, the accountability of friends and family is all they need to kick the habit for good.
More often than not, though, people struggling with substance abuse find it easier to recover with professional help. Outpatient and inpatient rehab programs provide medical and psychological support. If you’re struggling with mental illness as well as addiction, dual diagnosis treatment centers may be the best option.
Learn How to Cope With Addictions in Healthy Ways
As you work to start giving up on drugs or alcohol, you may find yourself facing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These will get better over time, but you have to learn how to cope with them early on.
If you have a severe dependency on alcohol, narcotics, or other addictive drugs, you may need to detox in a medical facility after quitting. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens, a potentially fatal condition. Other drugs can also have serious withdrawal symptoms that need to be monitored by medical professionals to keep you safe.
Once you’re through the worst of the withdrawal phase, you’ll still have to deal with cravings. Work with your support team to make a list of healthy coping strategies you can use when the urge to use strikes. You might suck on hard candy or chew gum, exercise, or write in a journal.
Build a New, Healthy Lifestyle
The key to long-term success in recovery is building a brand new lifestyle without substance abuse.
This is much more easily said than done. If a lot of your social activities and relaxation involved bars, clubs, or substance use, you may find yourself having to restructure your hobbies and social circle to avoid them. If you don’t work to fill it with positives, a life without drugs and alcohol can feel empty at first.
That’s why it’s so important to start building healthy connections with people who will support you in your new sober lifestyle. Find new ways to spend your time doing things that leave you feeling fulfilled, like volunteering, playing sports, or making art. When you have something to look forward to, it’s easier to say no to temptation in the long run.
Overcoming Addictions Is Possible
If you or a loved one is ready to start overcoming addictions to drugs or alcohol, there’s no better time to start than now. Talk with your doctor and follow the steps listed above to embark on a journey toward a better, healthier you.
For more ways to take care of your body and live a healthy lifestyle, make sure to check out some of the other articles on our site.