Addiction is a disease and like many others, it can be treated. Taking back your life, instead of giving it over to the substance or behaviour that has been controlling it, is a process though, not an overnight quick-fix.
These things can make a huge difference:
Nothing can change until you acknowledge that there is a problem, and decide you want to deal with it. To get clear on why you want to go through this process, which is admittedly not easy, take a good hard look at your life right now.
- How has your addictive behaviour negatively affected it?
- Does your life revolve around your next fix?
- Have you alienated family members and lost friends you used to enjoy spending time with?
- Are you struggling to focus on your studies, hobbies, or even on getting out of bed in the morning?
- These things are all good indicators that something needs to change.
Appropriate treatment options
Depending on the nature of your addiction, you may need one or a combination of the following:
Behavioural therapy: This helps firstly to identify what triggers the need for a particular substance or behaviour, and then secondly, teaches you skills to deal more constructively with the stress caused by that trigger, so that you have options available to you other than the habitual one that has been controlling you.
Medication: Withdrawal symptoms are not fun, and prescribed and carefully monitored medication can help you deal with these, as well as to cope better with the initial trigger.
Making use of these treatment options will help prevent a relapse or at least equip you to make good decisions for yourself if it does happen, namely getting help and getting back on the programme.
Recovering from an addiction is much easier if you have support. You’ll need to share what’s going on first, but supportive friends and family can really help to keep you on track, via a combination of encouragement and tough love when necessary.
Other potential sources of assistance are professional counsellors, doctors and social workers. Support groups that follow a 12-Step programme can help you work through the process of recovery and also provide a personal sponsor. When you can share what you’re going through with others who understand, you’ll feel a lot less alone.
These resources can be accessed either independently or via an in-house rehab programme. Use Google to find out more information about your options, look out for pamphlets around campus or ask for referrals from your college guidance centre.
Focussing on your new life
While you’re recovering, it’s best to stay away from negative influences or people who may try to drag you back to where you were. Instead, first focus simply on taking care of the basics that keep you healthy, like eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising in a way that you enjoy.
Once you feel ready, begin to investigate new interests, or revisit something you used to enjoy in the past, such as a hobby, a creative activity or learning something new. Set goals for what you want to achieve so that you have something to head towards that excites you.
Most importantly, take that first step today. Decide to change your life for the better and reach out for the help you need to achieve that. In the long run, you’ll be so glad you did.