The faces of recovery are as diverse as you can imagine. Decades ago, there were common stereotypes of addicts as people who looked a certain way and likely came from a shady side of the tracks.
Today, we now understand that addiction has impacted nearly every family and community across the country. It has crept into mainstream life to such a large extent that the old stereotypes have faded away, and in their place are pictures of everyday people like the ones we know and love.
Opioid addiction is an illness that can be successfully treated. This new reality provides hope and assurance that nearly any person, with proper support and treatment, can successfully manage this illness and regain their life.
However, the odds are not good for individuals who stay in active addiction and who postpone their entry into professional care. With the widespread proliferation of fentanyl and other adulterated street opiates, the risks have never been greater.
In the United States, there are a significant number of methadone clinics, buprenorphine clinics, and qualified physicians who specialize in the treatment of opioid addition using medication-assisted approaches. For the vast majority of opioid addicted people, medication is key in helping them to prevent extremely diffcult opioid withdrawal.
Once withdrawal sickness is effectively eliminated, then counseling & support can help restore a person’s life and open up new paths to the future.
An important consideration in examining the disease of addiction is the recognition that “recovery” is an incremental process. Many people facing their addiction will experience brief setbacks, and some will struggle for years before they are able to remain on the path of positive change.
As a counselor, I have listened to many recovering individuals talk about their resistance to change. Addiction is a persistent disease of disruptive thinking and behavior highly subject to repetition. Addicts will repeat the same bad “choices” as a result of many factors. Scientific research has shown that habitual patterns of behavior are neurochemically driven deep within the brain. These patterns can be reinforced by one’s social connections, immediate environment, and underlying belief system.
With severe levels of addiction sustained over years, it can become difficult for people to shift their lifestyle, thinking, and decision-making toward a healthy, recovery-oriented mindset. In 12 Step recovery, there is the popular expression called “hitting bottom”. This expression is typically used to describe a specific time in which a person has lost so much, or suffered such a painful crisis, that their readiness for change finally emerges. This window of opportunity is often times short-lived. Hitting bottom will compel some people to finally take the right action – to seek help – to admit they have a problem. If this happens, then a decision to step onto the path of recovery may actually occur.
Active addition is often characterized by a short range view in which consequences are not thoroughly considered. Focusing on consequences interferes with the compulsive desire to use. And even then, a recognition of consequences to oneself and family is often not enough to change the decision to get high. With opiate addiction, the decision to use is overwhelmingly controlled by opiate withdrawal sickness. This never-ending physical sickness takes people away from recovery and keeps them trapped in a desperate existence centered around doing whatever is necessary to avoid being “dope sick”.
Fortunately, this dilemma can be addressed through medication-assisted treatments (methadone, suboxone, naltrexone). These do not replace the need for a recovery program, but they become an important part of one’s overall personal recovery program. Staying on the path of recovery is the next critical phase after stepping onto the path. Medication-assisted treatment greatly aids recovering addicts in staying on the proper path. Science has proven that those with the greatest chance of long-term, successful sobriety are those that remain in treatment and recovery. Said differently, a person’s chance of recovery success is statistically improved the longer they remain in treatment.
When a person no longer has to face the crippling weight of daily withdrawal sickness, they have a chance to re-approach their overall recovery and the opportunities that lie ahead of them.
Posted in Addiction Recovery, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone, Methadone Clinics, Methadone Maintenance, Naltrexone, Recovery, Relapse Prevention, Suboxone, Suboxone Clinics
Tagged 12 Step Recovery, addiction recovery
As we prepare for another new year, there is always this opportunity for welcomed changes and improvements in our lives. New years resolutions are often built around personal goals that people would like to achieve like quitting smoking, losing weight, or beginning a new hobby.
With opioid addiction, the desire for relief is always present. It is amazing what an individual can do when they are truly motivated and committed to a goal. It is true that people enter recovery every single day. What an incredible truth this is!
The big question is what does it take for a person to step onto the path of change and to point themselves in a new direction? The disease of addiction is one that is allowed to continue as a result of becoming stagnant, inactive. As a disease process, drug addition only gets halted when a person makes a decision to do something about it. If a person fails to take any action to change, then addiction will simply progress.
For some people, their first step toward recovery is to just talk to a caring person about their addiction problem and to take a look at some possible options. Commitment and change usually begin with a simple question like “What if … ?” or “What about … ?”
The desire for something better at times leads us to have an open heart or open mind toward something new and unfamiliar. Surprisingly, some addicted people actually fear “recovery”. It represents the unknown. But so many have looked back, after taking that first step, and been incredibly relieved that they finally did take it.
Methadone and buprenorphine (suboxone) have been extremely beneficial for a large number of opioid addicted people. So have inpatient and outpatient rehabs, detox centers, and 12 Step meetings. There are a number of proven paths that have worked for many! If you are currently struggling in addiction, change is possible and recovery is available to you. It will be a worthwhile decision to find help. You will most likely look back very soon and be glad that you made a decision to explore your own path out of addiction.
Welcome to 2015! It’s a new year. It will bring challenges. It will bring rewards. We hope that you will not sit idly by and let the past dictate your future. 2015 may be your year. Take some steps in a new and better direction. Good things can definitely happen.