Overcoming addiction is quite the transformation. You might feel alone, but in the US, nearly 22.3 million adults have conquered some form of addiction. No matter how bad it gets, there’s always hope that you can build a life after having an addiction. A main issue for those battling addiction is that they’re not getting the help they need. With proper guidance and the correct environment, almost anyone can recover from even the most severe addictions. Long-term addicts often can’t even begin to imagine what life after addiction might look like. This article digs deeper into addiction and highlights what to expect when turning your life around and rebuilding relationships with loved ones.
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Addiction recovery can be complex, but the basics of addiction are pretty simple. When someone’s an addict, they have an uncontrollable urge to use substances or alcohol despite the negative impact on their life. There’s a difference between enjoying a few beers on the weekend and being a drug or alcohol addict.
One main thing that sets severe addiction apart from regular recreational use is that people with an addiction often use drugs and alcohol to cope with mental illness or trauma. While this coping mechanism might help in the short-term, addicted individuals usually experience significant emotional distress, especially when adjusting to life after rehab. Consistent use can lead to anxiety and depression, and they may feel guilt and shame for ruining personal relationships or careers.
With certain substances or severe addictions, the body can become physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. This can cause major withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using, making recovery seem impossible and challenging the very idea of having a life after drugs. With some substances, the physical addiction can even be life-threatening. For instance, long-term heavy alcoholics need to detox under medical guidance, as doing it alone can be dangerous.
Renewal and Recovery
Recovering from drugs and alcohol brings a renewed sense of hope and positivity. When you’re addicted, it feels like there’s no future or hope. But recovery changes your perspective, and you start making plans for positive life changes like being able to buy a house or living life happily just because.
You’ll also notice improved health. Almost everyone who recovers from addiction reports better well-being. Your mental health will improve, and your physical health will likely get better, too. Drug and alcohol addiction can seriously harm your body, especially in the long term.
People with an addiction often feel out of control and ruled by impulses, struggling with responsible decision-making. The good news is that recovery gives you more control over impulsive behaviour, allowing you to make better decisions for yourself and your loved ones. You’ll seem like a very different person if you compare who you were before and after drug addiction.
The Science Behind Addiction
So, what’s the science behind drug and alcohol addiction taking over your life? Well, your neurotransmitters get seriously messed up. Drugs and alcohol mess with their normal functioning, which affects things like motivation and decision-making. When these transmitters are disrupted, you get abnormal brain messages, leading to reckless or disturbing behaviour.
Addiction impacts key brain areas responsible for impulse control, stress response, and motivation-like the extended amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Once you recover from drugs and alcohol, these brain areas return to normal, giving you a fresh outlook on life. It might feel hopeless now, but recovering can literally change your brain.
Drugs can also cause excessive dopamine release-that feel-good neurotransmitter. Normally, dopamine is released when you achieve goals or spend time with loved ones. Excessive drug or alcohol use throws your dopamine off balance, making nothing but drugs or alcohol feel good. But here’s the good news: if you quit drugs and alcohol, dopamine starts functioning normally again, meaning you’ll feel good without needing them.
What Does Addiction Feel Like?
Everyone’s addiction journey varies, but some common features exist. People with an addiction often feel a loss of control. With drug or alcohol addiction, it feels like there’s no free will to change the situation. It seems like your future’s set in stone, and you’re powerless to alter it.
This perceived control loss can lead to isolation and self-loathing. People with an addiction might distance themselves from friends and family or be forcefully ostracized due to their behaviour. This creates a downward spiral, as they use substances more to cope with isolation.
Contrary to popular belief, people with an addiction usually know the pain they cause others but feel unable to stop. When heavily addicted, the pleasure from substance use is short-lived. The high is fleeting and quickly replaced by intense cravings. However, with the right support and treatment, it’s possible to regain control and turn your life around.
The Recovery Journey
One key thing about drug and alcohol addiction is that while you can achieve fantastic results, mend relationships, and boost brain function, recovery is a gradual process needing patience. It’s a slow and steady race, so it’s important to celebrate small victories to stay motivated. For instance, if you’re a severe alcoholic, quitting overnight isn’t likely. So, celebrate cutting down your daily alcohol intake.
A common trap is realizing there’s a problem and rushing the recovery process. Addiction recovery takes time, and pushing too fast can cause more harm than good. Recognizing this as a long-term battle with many small victories sets you on the right path toward life after addiction.
Rebuild Your Relationships
When rebuilding your life after addiction post-recovery, you’ll have the chance to make things right with friends, family, and others. Addiction often harms relationships, especially with those closest to you. For life after having an addiction, it’s crucial to accept responsibility for your past actions and make amends where possible.
Some relationships may be irreparably damaged, but most people are receptive if you’re genuinely in recovery. To make amends, start repaying debts and rebuilding trust. Seeking forgiveness from those you’ve hurt can be an important step in the recovery process.
However, take it slow and steady. People may not forgive you immediately, but their outlook might change as they see you turning your life around.
After kicking addiction, you’ll finally follow through on expectations. Serious addictions make committing to goals tough, and thinking past 24 hours is a challenge.
Beating addiction means meeting obligations in personal relationships and professional life. People with an addiction struggle with relationships because people judge them as unreliable, and people lose trust.
You can rebuild broken relationships once you show you’re recovered and accountable for your actions. People will believe in your recovery when you consistently demonstrate trustworthiness in all aspects of life.
After recovering from addiction, you’ll need to distance yourself from people who encourage your addictive behaviours. It’s tough to maintain a recovery without cutting out friends and acquaintances who still use drugs out of your life. Having the right support is crucial for long-term sobriety, and hanging out with active addicts is the opposite of support.
Continuing to associate with these people means constantly fighting the urge to use drugs or alcohol again. In some cases, they might even encourage you to give up on recovery. To stay sober, seek positive influences and build relationships with those who positively impact your life. This might leave you with a smaller social network at first, but as you build a sober lifestyle, new relationships will form, and old ones can be mended.
A great way to find positive influences is by joining group therapy programs. These organizations show that positive change is possible when surrounded by the right people.
When you recover from addiction, you’ll likely find new hobbies or rediscover old ones. It’s crucial to find activities that excite and fulfil you. Hobbies keep you mentally and physically engaged, helping prevent relapse.
As a person with a former addiction, your daily routine probably revolved around drugs. Once you quit, you’ll have lots of free time. It’s vital to fill your schedule with fulfilling activities. Taking up a sport or exercise is a great choice, as it makes you feel good without drugs or alcohol.
There are tons of other hobbies, too. Maybe you dropped some interests during addiction; now’s the perfect time to dive back in. This keeps your mind focused and connects you with like-minded, non-addict people.
Without hobbies, relapse is more likely due to a lack of positive activities. In some cases, you might even have had an addiction for so long that you’re not sure what your hobbies even are. In that case, it makes sense to try things out to see what wags your tail.
Exercise is key to recovery. It helps with mental clarity and lowers stress. This is super helpful when you’ve been using drugs and alcohol to de-stress.
Another great thing about exercise is that it helps build a normal routine. As a former addict, you’ll find your life lacks structure and needs predictability. Daily exercise can provide mental focus and prevent you from slipping back into old habits by sticking to a consistent routine.
Have the Right Diet
While battling addiction, a healthy diet often takes the back seat. Most addicts don’t get proper nutrition, leading to poor physical and mental health, making addiction issues worse.
As a former addict, you might not have the habit of eating right. So, it’s wise to focus on nutritious foods and drinks. Exercise or sports can reduce stress and improve mental health, but it needs to be paired with a good diet.
A holistic approach helps since a healthy diet significantly contributes to your well-being. Eating healthily might be challenging if you’re not used to it, and some research into good eating habits could be needed. However, with some attention, you can develop a healthy diet that benefits your physical and mental health.
Get Enough Sleep
Make sure you get enough sleep. Adults need around 8 hours, and less could negatively impact stress levels and emotional stability. This is crucial for those in recovery, as extra stress might lead to relapse.
Getting enough sleep can be tough in the early recovery stages. Detoxification can make sleeping difficult, and some people with an addiction rely on substances to help them sleep. But don’t worry- these issues are temporary, and there are ways to improve sleep.
One of the best methods is living an active lifestyle. Getting enough exercise makes it more likely you’ll fall asleep at night. It might be hard at first, but sticking with recovery and looking after your health will eventually improve your sleep.
If sleep struggles persist, consult a healthcare professional. Restorative practices like meditation, yoga, or mindfulness techniques can also help you relax and get enough sleep.
Focus on Goals
When you recover, you’ll be able to set and achieve goals. A key part is defining realistic goals for recovery and life. This could involve rekindling relationships or recharging your career.
Clear goals are essential to track progress. People with an addiction often feel great initially, but once the excitement wears off, life gets more challenging. That’s because addiction has been beaten, but for long-term satisfaction, future goals are needed to work towards.
Pay extra attention to these goals since addiction messes with your brain’s reward and motivation centres. Setting and achieving even modest goals can be challenging, as your brain craves instant gratification from drugs and alcohol. Monitor your progress and appreciate every small step towards your goal. These improvements will add up over time.
Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, to reinforce positive behaviour. As you reinforce good habits, you’ll rewire your brain and progress in life. The more you achieve, the less likely a relapse becomes.
You Can Have a Life After Having an Addiction
Life after addiction isn’t a straight line. It’s a journey of recovery and self-improvement, with steps building on each other. To truly recover without relapse risk, get the best addiction and mental health care available. A holistic approach is key to turning your life around.
At Simca Addiction and Mental Health, we create personalized, compassionate, and comprehensive care for those struggling with addiction. Our luxury rehab facilities offer a chance to change your life and repair relationships. Contact us today if you or a loved one wants to take that first step in turning things around and experiencing what life after drugs or alcohol is like.