Drug addict? Here are 10 things you can do to help.

We have already discussed recreational drugs and the mechanism for addiction in a previous blog already. To see that blog click here. However, in this blog we will go through 10 steps you can take to help curb your addiction, whatever it is. It’s important to remember every person is unique and what may work for someone may not work for another. 

First of all – well done. The fact that you have taken the decision to try and stop this addicting habit is a great feat in itself. Below are 10 things you can do to help get rid of drug addiction. If you honestly and seriously decide to follow this advice, it should definitely guide you towards quitting. Enjoy! 

1. Admit you have an addiction:

This is sometimes the hardest step for some people. Admitting to yourself that you have a problem is a difficult decision; but a brave one nonetheless. Being completely honest with yourself and not shying away from the truth puts you one step closer to the path of recovery. In fact, the transtheoretical model- also called the states of change model- determined that people are only able to change their behaviour if they were ready to do so. (Eg a smoker determined to stop smoking is more likely to reach his goal only if he is ready to do so). This model focuses on the decision making processes of an individual and operates on the basis that changes don’t happen suddenly but rather is a well thought out cyclic process. Before acknowledging that you have an addiction problem, you will lie in the precontemplation stage of the transtheoretical model. You won’t see your addiction as bad and to you, it’s a normalised behaviour. There are little to no cons to this behaviour but many cons in changing the behaviour. The issue is that you become oblivious to the negative consequences and are reluctant to change. Admitting you have an addiction shifts you out of this stage and pushes you into contemplation. Here you intend to make a change to your behaviour and you understand the possible side-effects of the behaviour. This is the first step towards recovery.

2. Reflect

Reflect on your addiction. Reflect on your life; what’s important to you and how your addiction has affected that. Ask yourself if you are the person you always wanted to be. It’s a difficult question but when you can understand who you want to become, you will be driven to make that change. After all, the obstacle between you and that person you are imagining right now is your addiction.

3. Seek formal help

You might be wondering where to go to seek help – the GP is a good place to start. They can discuss your issues with you and think of a suitable treatment for you. They then might give you treatment at the practice or refer you to a local drug treatment site. There are also charity and private drug treatment sites that are also available, which you can also visit yourself.  Make sure to try and confide in these people- remember, they are here to help people just like you.

4. Explore your addiction treatment options

Treatment differs patient to patient – a treatment one person is given might not be the best one for you. A common treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a talking therapy based on the assumption that your thoughts and feelings influence your behaviour, so negative thoughts can trap you in a vicious cycle.  CBT helps you see how your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour, and helps reframe them more positively to encourage you to continue overcoming your addiction.

You can also have drug substitutes – if you are supposedly having heroin or opioids, the service might be able to provide you an alternative drug such as methadone. This restricts you from withdrawing and buying street drugs again. 

Detoxification is a treatment for people who want to get rid of using heroin and opioids completely. It helps a person to cope with the withdrawal symptoms that come with stopping. 

General health and reducing harm: on your first approach, particularly if you go to the GP, they may request a saliva and urine sample just to check how your body is coping after taking drugs.
To read about the effects of drugs on the body, click this link here

They may also do some tests and preventative procedures for conditions such as HIV and hepatitis. This is to catch (and treat if necessary) any condition that may be fatal. 

Treatment might be available for you to take at home, or as a hospital inpatient. If the condition is complicated or severe, you could be referred to a residential rehabilitation service. 

5. Identify any triggers

Surely, every person took drugs initially for some reason. To understand more about why people might take drugs, read this blog . Is it because you are forced into taking them? Is it because you are depressed, or you want to get rid of some thoughts that haunt you? Or is it just because it feels so, so good? Identifying triggers is part of the reflection process- this is where you try to identify the problem you are facing. It is the root to changing behaviour, as you need to identify what causes it. Make sure to be honest with yourself – what you are facing might be similar to what many other people are facing too – you might not recognise it! Finding the true root cause is quite essential in helping you through your journey of stopping. 

6. Exercise/ Build a new meaningful life

Indeed, exercise releases “feel-good” hormones into your circulation. This is why you might feel satisfied when you exercise. Try to do things that keep you happy – go outside on walks, talk to people that you trust and confide in, and try to find a hobby! As a matter of fact there are actually many things you can do whilst you are at home, whether it is watching shows, or using recipes to make new types of foods that you have never tried before. A meaningful life could also be doing something that makes you feel special – you can try to imply something you are good at in helping other people. Every person is unique and good at something – so why not make use of what makes you special! When you keep yourself busy you might lose that need of having drugs as you forget about using them. 

7. Reach out for support

Battling addiction is a lonely process and the path to recovery is a solitary one. Therefore, it’s always best to seek out help from the ones you love and trust. This makes the whole process easier and “lessens the burden” so to speak. Having someone motivate you and keep you on track on route to recovery is in fact universally encouraged. 

8. Accept the past 

Guilt can be a lot. It is a difficult burden to carry with you. Accepting the fact for what it is and forgiving yourself almost, helps ease that burden however. We aren’t defined by our greatest mistakes but rather from what we overcome so learning to accept the past for what it is and being prepared to move on is crucial. 

9. Avoid places where drugs are available

Although this is towards the bottom of the list, it is very important.  Going and revisiting places where there are drugs available will only make relapse more likely for you. Try to avoid those sorts of areas and mix with people that don’t encourage you to do drugs, if possible.

10. Don’t let relapse keep you down 

Relapse is completely normal and is in fact a stage in the transtheoretical model. It’s important to not let relapse put you down and let you slip away into forming old habits again. Instead, when you have gone through relapse, the most important step is to recognise that this is a natural process and identify what went wrong that made you go back into your old habits. Identifying any triggers and rectifying your mistake is all a part of the process to recovery and understanding puts you another step closer to complete recovery. Whenever you relapse, consider talking to people who managed to get over addiction, talk to healthcare services and ask them for help again, or do the activities that you used to do when you did stop taking drugs, to help you stop again. Never give up – relapse periods may occur numerous times, and this is perfectly normal.

There is no one-size fits all sort of treatment for drug addiction and recovery. A combination of cognitive therapy, lifestyle changes, medications and support groups all help you to slowly lower down addiction. Rather than thinking of it as something you totally get rid of rapidly, think of it as an ongoing process of facing and coping with life without retreating into addictive behaviours.

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