We are in the midst of a substance abuse epidemic. The United States is in the grip of an opioid overdose crisis, and Canada is as well. Experts in both countries warn that citizens are drinking too much alcohol, too. Addiction is all around us — and, for many of us, within us.
Addiction is a problem on an international level, but it’s all too personal for some people. Every day, millions of people wake up feeling terrible after a binge drinking session or a long night of opioid use — and immediately find themselves craving their next fix. And then there are the people who manage to get to work and get through the day, but for whom happy hour is always waiting. There are people who live to drink and people who are barely hanging onto life between drug abuse cycles. Some people are high-functioning drug users, others low-functioning alcoholics. But all of these people face the same scourges: addiction and substance abuse.
Addiction isn’t a choice, of course. Despite the all-too-common misconceptions that surround it, addiction is actually a mental illness. It can leave addicts effectively helpless in its grasp, especially when it interacts with other physical and mental health conditions, like chronic pain or depression.
And since addiction is a real illness, it demands real professional treatment. To achieve sobriety and maintain it, you’ll have to turn to experts: psychologists, psychiatrists, and/or counselors who specialize in addiction.
But before you can do that, you’ll need to understand that you have a problem. This is easier said than done, as any addict will tell you. Denial plays an important and diabolical role in the mechanics of addiction, and believing that you can “quit whenever you want” or that your drinking or drug use “isn’t a real addiction” can throw up dangerous road blocks between you and the treatment that you need.
It’s up to you to determine the truth and to find reasons to make the necessary changes in your life. Call a hotline or reach out to a mental health professional, or just walk right through the door of a rehab facility and check yourself in.
Treatment and your long-term future
How you choose to approach your addiction and substance abuse issues will be up to you and your mental health professional. Most likely, you’ll want to consider talk therapy in addition to some other treatment options. If you’re at risk of serious withdrawal symptoms, sobering up in a controlled environment may be a must. You may also choose to spend some of your early days of sobriety at a rehab center.
Rehab can be a particularly powerful option, explain the experts who run a widely respected Toronto drug rehab program. Checking into an inpatient rehab will give you a clean break with your daily routine. Your “old life” won’t disappear on its own, of course, and you’ll still have to face down your triggers and cut ties with enablers and other dangerous people. But going to rehab will give you a little time and space to gather the strength that you’ll need in order to do these things. At rehab, you’ll be able to talk to trusted professionals and focus on the important things in a calm and supportive environment.
Your journey will continue long after sobering up and attending therapy or rehab. You’ll face challenges every day, and you’ll have to stay sober “one day at a time,” as any addict will tell you. But if you stick to your commitment and continue to seek the support of mental health care professional and peer support groups, then you’ll have every chance of living the sober life that you deserve.