Abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol affects millions of lives in the U.S. alone. It is a chronic, escalating, and relapsing condition hallmarked by drug-seeking behavior and use, despite adverse consequences that tend to accompany it. There is no cure for this disease, but there are a number of factors that foster drug addiction recovery and improve a person’s chance of success.
Willingness and Readiness for Change
You can’t force recovery on anyone – every individual has to have the desire to change. This doesn’t mean everyone who has recovered didn’t start the process kicking and screaming – many have. It’s just that at some point, the person suffering must accept that they need help and be committed to their recovery.
Some people who take the first step aren’t truly ready and discover this later. Others fight against the tide and eventually “give in” to treatment and find that deep down, they have the will to change, after all.
In any case, whether it’s there at the onset of recovery or it develops over time, the “wanting” to become healthy and sober must eventually be present and palpable.
Belief in Oneself
A successful recovery is predicated upon the person’s belief that they can overcome challenges. This fact doesn’t mean that self-doubt can’t creep in from time to time, but there has to be a general conviction that recovery is personally attainable.
Sometimes this takes awhile to build upon, over time goes as positive changes and milestones are achieved. Ultimately, it usually becomes easier to believe in one’s ability to overcome addiction and cope with life’s stresses and traumas without resorting to substance use.
The Address of Mental & Emotional Well-Being
Addiction rarely exists in a vacuum – that is, it develops out of the need to self-medicate against emotional issues, such as mental illness, adverse experiences, and the inability to deal with negative thoughts and feelings.
People who experience these problems will probably not remain sober for very long if their emotional needs are not addressed and treated. Moreover, the underlying factors that directly contribute to substance abuse continue to linger and serve to reestablish the cycle of use and continual downward spiral into anxiety, depression, and despair.
The Development of Superior Coping Skills
Substance abuse, for the most part, is wielded as a coping mechanism to avoid life’s challenges, traumatic memories, unwanted emotions, etc. with which we would rather not deal.
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t lay down its weapons and stand up and take notice of people in recovery. The factors that contribute to addiction, triggers, family conflict, mental illness, and our personal histories don’t vanish because we would like them to. We still have to address them and do so as adults.
Moreover, the development of coping skills, which is typically a significant focus of most evidence-based treatment programs, needs to be a priority. You have to learn these skills, internalize them, and effectively use them on a daily basis.
If you can’t handle life without turning to substances, you will ultimately struggle with recovery.
The Acceptance of Support From Others
Support is essential for people to remain personally accountable to others, and to also share experiences and be there when times get tough. This support often comes in the form of family and close friends, but not always.
For those who are relatively isolated from others – either due to their substance abuse or perhaps, a lack of close loved ones – there are still support groups, sponsors, spiritual leaders, and counselors that can offer the needed support and encouragement to help one sustain recovery.
The Creation and Maintenance of a Structured, Productive Environment
The lives of those suffering from addiction are typically unstable, unpredictable, and lacking structure. A successful recovery requires the opposite – planning, consistency, and engagement in productive activities and daily life functions.
Creating and adhering to a daily schedule can be extremely useful in helping to organize one’s life while keeping a focus on balance and prioritizing recovery. It also helps reduce boredom – staying busy and active reduces temptation as well as opportunities to use.
Busy, productive, well-planned lives in recovery usually include adherence to a work or school schedule, with time allotted for hobbies, exercise, healthy meals, attendance of support groups and therapist visits, social engagements, and attention to spiritual needs, such as prayer or meditation.
Recovery, above all, requires a firm conviction in oneself and priorities, a focus on emotional well-being, the ability to adhere to a healthy schedule and lifestyle, and the willingness to learn new skills and accept support as needed.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great start, and we hope that people considering undergoing addiction recovery find this information both helpful and inspiring.