When people are struggling with an addiction problem, the idea of getting their old life back can appear very appealing. The problem is that if things were so great before, it is unlikely that the person would have fallen into addiction in the first place. This is why the goal of recovery is not for you to get your old life back, but to create something much better where you not going to feel the need to turn to alcohol or drugs.
From Your Old Life to Addiction
It is almost certain that your life before addiction was better that things are now, but there will have been factors that led to the substance abuse. For many people, their reason for turning to alcohol or drugs is that they just did not feel able to cope with life. This could be because they were dealing with some type of trauma or mental health problem (although they may not have realised this at the time). It is also common for individuals to turn to addiction because they just lacked the coping skills needed to deal with the stresses of day-to-day living.
When people begin using alcohol or drugs, it usually does feel as if it makes life easier to deal with. The problem is that this solution is not about dealing with problems but about running away from them. The challenges in life remain the same, but the person uses alcohol or drugs to hide from them. This can work initially, but as individuals develop a tolerance for these substances, they need to keep taking more and more. It means the person begins to experience increasing negative effects as the result of the behaviour, and this is on top of all the problems they have been dealing with. This then leads to a vicious cycle whereby the person has to drink or use more and more drugs in order to escape the difficulties caused by the substance abuse. It is a bit like trying to cure your headache by hitting yourself on the head with a hammer.
A Better Life in Recovery
If you were to return to your old way of life, the likelihood is that all the reasons for why you turned to alcohol or drugs are going to be there. Maybe you will be strong enough to stay sober, but there is a high risk that you would turn to new maladaptive coping strategies. For example, it is common for people to turn to things like workaholism, comfort eating, or internet addiction after giving up alcohol or drugs. This means that you would be just moving from one type of misery to a new type of misery, which is far from the perfect solution.
The real goal of recovery is for you to create a completely new life for yourself, one where you no longer feel the need to hide from things. The things you need to do to create this new life will vary from person to person, but the most usual steps you can expect to take would include:
- enter a rehab program and pick up all the tools you need to build a better life in the future
- spend time with a therapist and begin dealing with some of the issues that made life uncomfortable for you in the past; it can be these past traumas that keep pulling you back to your old life
- join a recovery fellowship and be supported in your attempt to build a new and better life
- be prepared to leave your comfort zone in order to create the better life you deserve
- be willing to experiment with new things and develop an open mind
- develop the coping strategies that will lead you to emotional sobriety
- learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to fail sometimes
- listen to others and respond well to constructive criticism
- spend your time around the type of people you aspire to be like; this can keep you motivated and you will have good role models
- monitor your progress in recovery closely to make sure you don’t end up off track
- make developing emotional sobriety one of your main priorities in life.