You pass so many people on the streets each day, without realizing how many of them are struggling with hardships and what they have going on in their lives. Someone is overjoyed because he just found out his wife is expecting a baby. Someone is miserable because their ice-cream fell on the pavement. Some have urgent cravings of injecting heroin in their veins just so the cold-sweats and cramping would stop. None of these things may be immediately apparent, but they are there.
Every addict has to go through a lot of hoops on their way to sobriety. They struggle with social stigmas, personal demons and general ignorance from people who think addiction is just a weak personality trait. Let’s have a look, at some hard truths and open pleas of understanding from recovering addicts.
When a person becomes addicted, it can be for many reasons or even combination of circumstances. One thing we know for a fact is that human beings are social creatures. We seek acceptance and like-minded individuals to spend our time with. Addicts are no different, human after all, they seek other addicts who will not judge their use and will understand the hardships they go through. When it’s time to step off the train of self-destruction, distancing himself from people that influence, remind or even impose drug use is one of the first steps towards recovery.
It’s a slippery slope
Every recovered addict has gone through or seriously considered relapsing. The path to sobriety is slick and treacherous. Just because a person is physically sober, does not magically remove all the triggers and reasons that moved him to use in the first place. Mental addiction is much harder to treat than physical addiction. Slipping back into the comforts of drugs and alcohol happens, there is no way around it. Regardless of how many months or even years have passed, that next hit and the feeling of relief it used to bring is forever at the back of their minds.
Short term goals – long term success
It is important that an addict has goals and a track record of their previous achievements. Short term goals bring gratification and sense of accomplishment once achieved. This is necessary through the depressing and cold slog through the recovery process. Keeping track of your merits and achieved goals is just as important to have a new one just around the corner. Be it sobriety of 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 months, each minute counts and is a success on its own.
Addiction is hard enough to kick, even harder if there is no one supporting you. Addicts on their path to sobriety need constant emotional and physical support. Become their confidant, listen and offer advice or insight when necessary. Be their work-out partner, give them a ride to the support group meetings, become their sponsor. As was mentioned earlier, humans are social creatures, therefore overcoming hardships come a lot easier in a group and with the support of family and friends.
Statistics are just numbers, cold facts, rarely disputed or argued with. Lifeless and emotionless tally of one thing or another. Comes as no surprise that no person likes to be called a statistic. We are all part of some kind of statistic, be it voter consensus or your local library attendance rate. Somehow there still exists a stigma of being a part of addiction statistic. Being called a statistic is implying that whatever hardship an addict is going through, it’s not that important since there are thousands upon thousands going through the same issues. Just because something is widespread and well-known does not make it any less hard to beat or deems any less support from the society. Stop labeling addicts, they are real people.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Addicts are more often than not depressed and miserable beings. Cold and withdrawn, in emotional or physical pain, recoiling at every offer to help them. It’s easy to give up and abandon all your support for them, thinking that they just don’t appreciate it or even worse – they are a lost cause and nothing will bring that original personality back. It could not be further from the truth. Any person can turn their lives around in a very short time and with the right support, therapy and mindset, anything is possible. Addicts are not hopeless, they have dreams and aspirations that they think of every day. An addiction is not an immediate death of a person, they are still there, the same person you befriended or fell in love with so many years ago, they just need help clawing their way back up to the surface.
Be engaged in your recovering friends and family members lives. Be their trusted support and pillar, their walking stick they can lean on when the going gets tough. Most important of all, don’t presume – communicate and make your decisions educated.