There is nothing easy about addiction. You struggle as you fall into its grip, it tears apart your life once you’re there, it will be one of the biggest fights of your life as you climb out of it, and staying sober? That is a daily battle.
You can battle it and overcome it, of that there is no doubt. At Compass we’ve seen the depths of addiction and how hard it is to come out of it. Those depths can be crazy and dark, but there is one part of addiction that stands out above the rest as truly “hard”. Time and time again, when asked what the hardest part of addiction and recovery is, addicts continue to point toward one event: admitting that you have a problem in the first place.
Some have likened it to ripping off a bandaid, or tossing aside a security blanket. True, with an unadmitted addiction, some parts of life might suck, and maybe life is even falling apart, but it’s all a familiar, well-known thing. The pain that your life without your addiction will have (so says your brain) isn’t there, so all is well. Your brain finds comfort in your friends, enablers or not, your familiar surroundings, and the illusion of control – even though you do not have any control over an addiction. It’s a comfortable, familiar place to exist. Admitting that you have an addiction and need help to break that addiction is the first step in tearing all of that familiarity away. You’re tossing your uneasy mind into a whirlwind of change, and you’re handing your perceived control over to someone else.
The very real belief exists that someone else, in some strange building, will soon dictate your entire existence. And that is an incredibly scary thing. That simple belief, inside of a mind that is addicted to a substance, has been more than enough to end a sober journey before it even begins.
And yet, tens of thousands of people every year end their addiction in that exact way. So, how do they do it? They are just as addicted, scared, apprehensive, and freaked out as any other addict; they feel just as much pain, torment, and suffering, and yet they rip that bandaid off. They go, they do it, they fight through it, they hand over control, and they come out winning. Their sober journey is well underway and their addiction no longer controls them. How are they getting it done?
Well, it’s not easy.
First and foremost, they understand that admitting their problem is not a weakness. Within the addict community, and society at large, a stigma exists against admitting that you need help. That stigma is wrong. Admitting that you need help with your addiction is the first step in going to war with it, taking it on, breaking it down, and defeating it. That is not weakness.
Not wanting to give up control of your life as an addict is also a misleading way to think. You have already given up control of your life to your addiction. Entering a detox facility can be an intimidating affair. But, the right facility does not “control your life”. They guide you through a successful, and comfortable as possible, detox, and arm you with the tools, therapy, and insight you will need to maintain the sobriety that you have fought so hard to achieve. There is no dictating, there is teamwork. Your counselors, nurses, and doctors are your teammates, not your overlords, and they are fighting just as hard for your success, and sometimes harder, as you are.
A huge part of addiction is your mind’s uncanny ability to fight against you and for the addiction. It knows that your drug of choice helps ease whatever pain or burden you might have. It tells you that all of the lies that go along with further addiction are true and that you are OK just where you are. Your own body will be your biggest enemy in the early stages of this fight.
But, rest assured, with the right will and drive to succeed, and the right team surrounding you, your addiction will fall, your body will again be yours to control, and you will find that life on the other side of addiction was well worth the fight.