First Steps to Becoming and Staying Sober

Chemical substances can change how your mind and bodywork. Using these substances artificially alters the brain’s chemistry, which could lead to dependence and addiction. Today, Our World in Data shows that over 2% of the world’s population has an alcohol or drug addiction. These two are also the leading cause of death from substance abuse.

You may think you’re one of the lucky few who won’t get addicted to a substance, and that you can stop anytime you want. Unfortunately, you might not realize how dependent you’ve become until it’s already causing significant problems. To help you on your journey to becoming and staying sober, here are steps to get started:

Admit you have a problem

It may be difficult to admit that you need to change your relationship with substances that you’ve been dependent on. But if you find that your habits are restricting your activities or affecting your relationships, or you’re feeling some discomfort or guilt, it’s likely that you have an addiction.

You can also pinpoint some common signs of having an addiction. SymptomFind, a site dedicated to helping people reach and maintain wellness, lists some common signs that are associated with alcoholism. These include the inability to resist the mere sight or smell of alcohol and constantly looking for excuses to drink alcohol. Meanwhile, for drugs, signs of addiction are avoiding places where you can’t take drugs and relying on drugs to cope with problems. The first step in any recovery journey? Admitting that you need help, which can help prepare yourself for change.

Seek help

Contrary to popular belief, going cold turkey is not the fastest way to beat addiction. The Gateway Foundation warns that this isn’t safe either. This is because prolonged dependence on alcohol or drugs has rewired the brain to expect these substances. Quitting cold turkey can give rise to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as increased heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. As such, to help you recover safely, reach out to an addiction counselor or doctor to help you understand what to expect in your journey to becoming sober.

Learn to cope with withdrawal and relapse symptoms

Dealing with withdrawal and relapse may be the most difficult parts of recovery. Withdrawal is the physical and mental effects you feel once you’ve stopped or reduced your intake of a substance. Physical symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, and tremors can last from a few days to a week. However, the psychological effects like dysphoria can go on for longer. If you experience withdrawal symptoms, consult a doctor to help you. They may also prescribe medication to help you through your withdrawal.

However, NCBI mentions that around half of the people undergoing treatment relapse a few weeks after they’ve finished their treatment program. Relapse symptoms can be emotional, mental, and physical. Emotional and mental symptoms include isolation and bargaining, which, if continued unchecked, will lead to physical relapse. This is when the person resumes use of the substance. Therapy and peer support can help you cope with your symptoms by increasing your motivation and guiding you through your journey.

Avoid replacement behaviors

Even when you’ve successfully managed your addictive behavior, you may end up finding a replacement for it. For instance, you can end up overeating or gambling. You can avoid replacement behaviors by trying to find a balance in your life. The trick to preventing replacement behavior is to find satisfaction in normal life experiences. These let you be more in touch with reality and form authentic relationships again.

Talk to your doctor and counselor about your activities in order to determine if you’re becoming compulsive with any of them. They’ll encourage you to have a structured daily schedule that’s composed of recovery-related activities, such as exercise, eating well, and getting enough sleep. These activities let you focus on something other than what you’re recovering from.

The road to recovery from addiction can be difficult. However, reaching out for help ensures that there are people to guide you to become and stay sober. For more information on recovering from addiction, check our resources here on Sober.

Submitted by: JBurk