The Nightmare of Addiction
To call addiction a nightmare is not an exaggerated statement. Those who fall into this type of life can lose everything, and they will experience a great deal of suffering as a result. Addiction can be fairly called a nightmare because:
- The individual will experience deterioration to their physical and mental health. If they are unable to escape the addiction they will progress towards insanity and death.
- Addiction not only destroys the life of the individual but it can also have a massively negative impact on family and friends. The immediate family members and partners of the addict can have their life equally destroyed by the addiction even though they are not the ones abusing these substances.
- Many people become estranged from their family, and they may also lose many of their friends. Those who abuse intoxication substances have a tendency to drive other people away because of their unreasonable behaviour.
- One of the most disturbing aspects of addiction is that the individual may lose all their hope and self esteem. They may be aware of how bad their life has become but feel unable to stop the decline – they may even feel like they don’t deserve any better in life.
- Addiction can ruin a person financially. They may have to resort to crime in order to feed their habit.
- Alcohol and substance abuse can make it difficult for people to do well in their careers. Some of them may even become unemployable.
- There is a negative stigma associated with being an addict. The individual will often feel alienated from the rest of society.
- The behaviour of the addict can often be appalling, and they may do things that they would never consider doing if sober. The individual may later feel a great deal of guild about their actions but use this as an excuse for further substance abuse.
- Those people who become addicted to alcohol or drugs develop denial in order to cope with the situation. This denial puts them in conflict with reality, and they will suffer as a result.
- By becoming addicted the individual has severely limited their potential in life. This means that any talents or other personal assets they have will be wasted.
For most people the word sobriety means not drinking or using drugs. A more precise definition might say something like it is the natural state of the human being. In order words the individual is facing reality without any type of chemical crutch. In a broader sense the word sobriety means more than just not having a mind clouded by intoxicants but also enjoying physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is this form of sobriety that most people will be aiming for when they escape addiction.
Two Types of Sobriety
It is possible to separate sobriety into two main types:
- Physical sobriety means that the individual is no longer using chemicals to cloud their mind. This means that their body and mind is not being damaged by such abuse.
- Emotional sobriety means that people are able to deal effective with their thoughts and emotions. It is not possible for a substance abuse to develop emotional sobriety until they first become physically sober.
Benefits of Physical Sobriety
Once people give up abusing alcohol or drugs they will immediately enjoy some important benefits such as:
- When people quit alcohol or drugs they will prevent any further damage to their physical health. The damage that occurs during the early stages of problems such as alcoholic liver disease can be reversed if people stop the abuse in time.
- People should find that their physical health also improves by giving up alcohol or drugs. They will likely have to make further changes to become healthy but ending substance abuse is a powerful start.
- The individual should experience improvements to their mental health. Problems such as alcohol induced depression will usually resolve once the individual has ended their substance abuse.
- Once people become physically sober they will be able to begin putting their life back together.
- They will no longer cause problems for themselves and other people due to intoxication.
- Their financial situation should improve.
- Family and friends are likely to feel relieved that the addiction appears to have ended – although it may take some time for them to develop trust in the individual again.
- The individual should be better able to take care of their family, social, and work responsibilities.
- Once people give up an addiction they will usually have a great deal of free time on their hands. They can use this extra time productively to build a much better life.
Benefits of Emotional Sobriety
Physical sobriety is a wonderful start but in order for the individual to put even greater distance between themselves and their addiction they need to develop emotional sobriety. The benefits of this type of sobriety include:
- The individual finds it much easier to regulate their own behaviour. This means that they are far less likely to fall into other maladaptive behaviours such as exercise addiction or workaholism.
- When people have developed emotional sobriety they can usually avoid having to deal with strong emotions. They have far more control over their reactions and avoid the extremes.
- This person finds it easy to live in the present moment. They are not always worrying about the future or feeling bad about the past – they understand that the only time they have is now.
- It means that they feel able to cope no matter what is happening in their life. This individual never feels overwhelmed by things because they have developed a sense of mastery in their own life.
- They no longer feel any desire to escape the realities of life. This means that substance abuse no longer holds any interest for them.
- The individual who has developed emotional sobriety will find it much easier to deal with stress. They will also experience less stress because they are not making problems for themselves.
- The fact that the individual is better able to handle stress means they are far less likely to suffer from stress related illness.
- Such people will find it easier to develop deep and meaningful relationships with other humans.
- They are far less likely to deal with extremes of mood such as depression.
- When people are emotionally sober they get to enjoy a naturally positive outlook on life.
The benefits of emotional sobriety make it well worth having, but just giving up alcohol or drugs will not be enough to guarantee it. In order to develop this type of sobriety the individual needs to:
- Develop effective coping strategies for dealing with any problems that come their way in life. Each new coping strategy is similar to a new tool and when people have enough of these they will have a full toolbox – this means that they can comfortably deal with anything.
- The individual has to be willing to face reality with no chemical assistance. It means overcoming the inner drive to run away from things.
- Practices such as meditation can allow the individual understand themselves and their emotions much better. This understanding leads the way to emotional sobriety.
- This type of sobriety does not develop overnight. It will take many years of dealing with life on life’s terms before people gain more mastery over their emotions.
- A daily journal can be helpful because it means that people can keep track of their progress and learn from their past mistakes.
How to End the Addiction Nightmare
- People can end their addiction nightmare and go on to develop physical and emotional sobriety. They do this by:
- Recognizing that they have an addiction problem and becoming willing to fix it.
- Finding a recovery option that will work for them. The individual should keep an open mind and not dismiss anything out of hand.
- Staying sober should become the individual’s number one priority in life. This is particularly important in early recovery, but even those who have been sober for years should never take this condition for granted.
- Those people who plan to attend rehab should make the best use of the available resources. All these places can do is to provide the resources, and it is up to the individual to make use of them.
- Those individuals who have some type of aftercare following rehab are the most likely to succeed. This can include things like fellowship groups or therapy sessions.
- Once people become sober for a few months they can forget how bad things were in addiction. It is up to the individual to remember why they quit and for them to stay motivated.
- Just giving up alcohol or drugs alone is probably not enough to end the addiction nightmare completely. This is because the reasons for why the individual turned to substance abuse in the first place will still be there.
- It is often said that recovery is a process and not an event. This means that the individual will need to keep on working on their sobriety in the months and years after they quit the substance abuse – there is no real graduation day.