The majority of people who try to give up an addiction will fail – most of these individuals will relapse within the first couple of days of quitting. It often takes repeated attempts before the individual is finally able to break free of alcohol or drugs, and some people never get to this point. There are a number of reasons for why people fail to follow through on their intention to end the substance abuse. If the individual understands these reasons, and takes actions to overcome them, it will mean that they can enter sobriety without the need for repeated relapse.
Those people who fail to escape their addiction are in real danger because:
* Addiction is a downward spiral, and this means that over any significant amount of time the individual’s situation will deteriorate. The final destination for those caught up in this descent is death.
* The longer the person remains addicted to alcohol or drugs the more they will lose. The individual will keep on going until they hit a rock bottom where they become unwilling to lose anything more – for some people their rock bottom will be so low that they will be unable to recover from it.
* The longer the individual remains addicted the more their family and friends will suffer.
* The time spent trapped in addiction is wasted because the person will be unable to live life to the fullest or reach their potential. The addict is deluded in their belief that these substances are making life more bearable – it is alcohol and drugs that is the source of their suffering.
* These substances are toxins that can cause great damage to the body organs and mind. The longer the person remains addicted the more likely they are to do permanent damage to their body.
* The longer people remain addicted the harder it can be for them to escape. This is because addiction consumes the individual’s self esteem so that they feel helpless and begin to believe that they actually deserve their suffering.
Most addicts will have periods in their life when they are more susceptible to the idea of quitting their addiction. This usually happens after they have messed up particularly badly and feel full of remorse. It can also occur when the individual is suffering because of bad hangover symptoms. On such occasions the person is unable to deny how bad their situation has become, and this means that they develop the willingness to stop the behavior. Reaching this point is no guarantee of success because most addicts will have felt this way hundreds of times and still continued with the abuse. In order for this brief period of willingness to mean something the individual needs to take action right away. Otherwise they can easily slip back into their denial once the pain and remorse has subsided.
It is common for those in recovery to claim that they were finally able to break away from addiction after they hit rock bottom. What they mean here is that things got so bad that there was no way that they were willing to return to addiction. This idea of a rock bottom is subjective – there is no sweet spot in the downward spiral where the individual is guaranteed success. For some people there rock bottom will be death or insanity while other people will hit their rock bottom after losing relatively little. The point is that the person has come to the conclusion that they have already lost enough, and they do not wish to lose anything else. Some people have misunderstood the concept of rock bottom to mean that the person has to lose everything before they can get better. This type of thinking is not only clearly wrong, but it is also dangerous. Hitting the proverbial rock bottom has been compared with entering a descending elevator – it is up to the person to decide where they want to get off.
There are a number of reasons for why the individual may fail to follow through or their decision to quit addiction, or why they will give up in their attempt, such as:
* If the person leaves it too late to act on their willingness to end the substance abuse the motivation may no longer be there. It is easy to slip back into the state of denial that is the hallmark of addiction to alcohol and drugs.
* One of the most common reasons for why people fail in their recovery attempt is that they are ambivalent about sobriety. They can see how quitting the substance abuse might benefit their life, but they still hold onto the dangerous idea that there might be some pleasure left in using alcohol and drugs.
* It can be difficult for people to escape addiction without help and some people seem to be incapable of doing it. Unless this individual seeks help they may never be able break away from the substance abuse.
* It is common for people to be afraid of dealing with withdrawal symptoms and use this as justification to continue their maladaptive behavior. They will usually grossly overestimate the amount of discomfort they are likely to experience during these withdrawals.
* If the person remains with their alcohol or drug using friends these people will discourage any aspirations to escape the substance abuse. It can be difficult to break away from the peer pressure that occurs in these groups.
* The addict will be able to find plenty of excuses not to take action to end the addiction. The longer they delay before getting help the more time they will have to invent excuses.
* Most addicts have low self esteem, and this means that they underestimate their value and abilities. The individual may even decide that the misery of substance abuse is all they deserve in life.
* Many humans fear change and they will use this as justification to accept a situation they know is miserable. Even after the person realizes how bad their situation is they may still believe the old proverb better the devil you know.
* Some people can be motivated enough to quit but then run out of steam within the first few weeks. This usually happens because the individual is not getting enough support to keep them motivated.
* If the individual expects other people to fix their life they will usually fail. In order to escape addiction it is vital that people take control and make it happen – nobody can do this for them.
* Another common reason for why people fail in their recovery attempt is that they’ve had unrealistic expectations and ended up disappointed. They believe that by quitting alcohol or drugs it will automatically mean their life is easy, but it doesn’t work like that and getting sober is only the start of the journey.
There is no benefit to be had by delaying escape from addiction. The sooner the individual becomes sober the sooner they can begin creating the type of life they really deserve. In order to successfully overcome alcohol and drug dependence the individual can:
* Making staying sober their number one priority in life. Nothing else should get in the way of recovery because if the individual fails in their attempts at sobriety they will lose everything anyway.
* The person needs to be willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober. With this type of attitude they will not be able to fail.
* Entering rehab can greatly increase the chances of success in recovery. This is because it ensures that the individual makes it through the difficult first weeks, and more importantly it gives them a strong foundation on which to build their life in sobriety.
* The person needs to keep in mind that recovery is a process and not an event. This means accepting that staying sober will require continued effort – there is no graduation day.
* In Alcoholics Anonymous they advise members to stick with the winners. This is good advice for anyone hoping to end an addiction because humans are highly influenced by the people they spend their time with.
* It is vital that the individual lets go of any hope that they will be able to ever drink alcohol or use drugs safely again. So long as they have an ambivalent attitude towards recovery their failure is almost guaranteed.
* As soon as a person becomes willing to quit the addiction they need to take action right away. They cannot depend on the same willingness being there tomorrow.
* Once the person has decided to quit they need to limit contact with drug using or alcohol abusing friends. There is just too great a risk that these individuals will attempt to drag the person back into addiction.
* The individual needs to understand that withdrawal symptoms are hardly ever any worse than a mild flu. The benefits of making it through this short period of discomfort far outweigh any negative aspects.
* The person needs to take responsibility for getting better. This means making the best use of all available resources.
* An open minded approach to recovery usually pays dividends. Those who are closed minded and arrogant will not be able to learn the skills they need to build a successful life away from addiction.