For most people needing recovery, coming to accept that they are having difficulties due to their substance misuse is often a terrifying process. To the dismay of family, friends, and employers the person misusing substances often looks as though he/she is the last person on the planet to grasp the gravitas of the addiction. The outsider looks at the suffering loved one and cannot grapple with how the inflicted substance abuser does not seem to see or feel the impact of his or her own harmful actions.
Whether it is drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or even a combination on all of these, the person misusing drugs appears to be the last one standing who is willing to accept that there is a life-threatening problem.
What takes the addict so long to accept their plight? Why doesn’t he or she just quit? Change for the sake of change is hard. We typically do not change our toothpaste, our choice of movies or genre of books that we read or even our own diet when we know we need to. For the suffering individual the warning signs seem so apparent and so abhorrent that friends and family may want to scream out, “Why do you not see what we see?” I submit that that addict is terrified of the thought of living life sober or drug free.
Up to the period of accepting his or her emotional and physical condition, the often-terrified substance abuser will go to huge and typically disastrous lengths to either prove that he/she is not an addict or delay accepting the reality of self-destruction. If friends and family are fortunate, the suffering individual will not die during this perilous and seemingly absurd stage; Philip Seymour Hoffman, for example, will never have an opportunity to try to be sober again.
The suffering person has typically tried to give up the addiction before, probably dozens of times. Each time a stretch of sobriety was put together, sometimes several days, or months or maybe even years. The struggling person has felt the pain of living life on life’s terms without the crutch of the drug and does not like it one bit; it is just too painful of a compromise. Enter: relapse, or prolonged abuse. The lesson: I’ll never try sobriety again! That was painful!
I submit that the person needing recovery needs a program of recovery unlike anything he or she has tried in the past. A 12-Step or SMART program that is designed to educate the sufferer about the impact of his/her disease and how to live a life that is rewarding, fulfilled, and empowering enough to live life on life’s terms. AToN center affords our residents the quintessential program of help and support to carry the addict through their scariest stage of sobriety (the first 30 days) and addresses the fears and turmoil that those in recovery hoped drugs and alcohol would rid them of.
CD Counselor, MA, RRW
AToN Center 888-535-1516