When it comes to overcoming an addiction, New Year’s resolutions can be especially important. However, if you’re someone who struggles with a substance use disorder, you understand that kicking the habit is much easier said than done. That’s why it’s important to focus less on setting a single resolution and more on committing to finding a treatment program that can help you as you learn to change your lifestyle. Luckily, it doesn’t need to be January 1 for you to decide to take the first steps. Every day holds the possibility for change and the beginning of your recovery from addiction.
How Do You Know If It’s an Addiction or Just a Habit?
Recognizing and admitting that you are struggling with an addiction is often the hardest part. You might be tempted to downplay an addiction by calling it a habit. However, it’s important to recognize that habit is part of addiction.
Habits begin when we respond with an action on cue. When you perform the action enough, it becomes automatic without requiring you to make a conscious decision.
Some habits form when behaviors result in a release of dopamine, which is a type of neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we experience pleasure. When dopamine is released, we feel pleasure, so, naturally, we’ll want to keep doing the actions that are responsible for that positive response. The release of dopamine can be triggered by any number of things, including seemingly simple actions like opening social media, eating your favorite food, or pouring a glass of wine. However, when you continue to repeat these habits, they become automatic.
With addiction, cravings for the substance go beyond just wanting it. Cravings cause powerful psychological and physical reactions once your body has become used to having the substance in your system. When you suddenly stop using the substance, your body has to adjust, which results in the onset of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include nausea, excessive sweating, muscle cramps, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. With some substances, the symptoms can be life-threatening.
Going through withdrawal is evidence that the habit has turned into an addiction. If you do not get professional treatment to help you through the withdrawal process, you will likely go back to using the substance to eliminate the painful symptoms.
The reward, along with the cost of not having the reward, is the reason a habit can quickly turn into an addiction.
Steps to Getting Help for Addiction
The first step to receiving help for addiction is to recognize that drugs or alcohol have become a problem in your life. It could be causing trouble in school or at work or with relationships, your health, or your financial situation.
There is no permanent cure for addiction. Instead, it will require following a treatment plan that will work for you to achieve long-term recovery.
For many, the first step in the treatment process is detoxification. During detox, you will be ridding your body of addictive substances in order to get past the symptoms of withdrawal. Most treatment centers offer detox services as the first step to recovery and may provide medical intervention to make the process more comfortable.
Once you have completed detox, you can enter the substance use disorder program that is best for your unique needs. This might include residential treatment with 24-hour supervision, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient treatment. Your team will work with you to determine which program or programs are best for you.
Where to Find Addiction Support
Addiction support might not come from a professional at first. You may find support from friends, family, or online support groups. The important thing is that you are reaching out and asking for the help you need.
It is important to not isolate yourself if you are struggling with a substance use disorder. Instead, reach out to friends and family you trust. They can give you the motivation you might need to start making changes in your life to overcome addiction.
The internet can also be a great place to find support as well as to learn more about the addiction you are struggling with. Joining support groups can be a great first step toward receiving the help you need and maintaining your recovery.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, family support groups are also available. Substance use disorders can negatively affect all who are involved. You may want to find a treatment center that offers family therapy to help you cope with your loved one’s struggles and learn how to become an effective member of their support system.
Getting the Addiction Help That’s Right for You
The best substance use disorder treatment plan will be customized to meet your unique concerns and goals. Your treatment plan should also focus on any co-occurring mental health concerns to ensure that the root cause of the addiction you are struggling with is properly addressed. Upon admission to a treatment program, you can enter the level of care that is appropriate for your needs and receive a customized care plan.
Most addiction treatment programs follow the 12-Step model. Alcoholics Anonymous formed the 12-Step model that is used to treat a range of addictions, not just alcoholism.
The 12-Step model is used alongside other therapeutic techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and experiential therapy. Depending on your plan of care, your treatment team will suggest that you participate in individual therapy sessions, group sessions, and possibly family sessions.
Preventing Addiction Relapse
Overcoming addiction is much easier said than done. When it comes to your 2021 resolutions, make sure that you and your treatment team have a plan for preventing relapse and maintaining your recovery.
The treatment program you participate in should make your aftercare a vital part of your recovery. It is important to take your aftercare recommendations seriously to ensure lasting wellness. This can include participating in outpatient treatment, entering a sober living facility, and attending AA meetings and other support groups.
Keeping your goals in mind and remembering how far you’ve come is a great way to prevent relapse. This year, make a list of your accomplishments and keep reminding yourself of how much you’ve accomplished. Remember that recovery from an addiction is a lifetime commitment, but with the right treatment and resources, you can achieve a happier, healthier future.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, help is available. Our team will work with you to develop the customized addiction treatment plan that is best for you.