If you’ve decided that you have an addiction, the next question is what are you going to do about it? You’ve probably already tried several tactics, such as cutting down on the amount that you use, or using only on particular days (like weekends), or switching to another substance (from liquor to beer, from marijuana to alcohol). You may have gone for extended periods of time without using, but then eventually the addiction crept back in.
You may be in a treatment center now, or you may have been told you will be put in a treatment center if you don’t stop. Some sort of negative consequence may be hanging over your head, like a hearing for a DUI or a spouse who’s left you until you get straightened out.
Whatever the reason might be, you didn’t get to this point spontaneously. As the director of a treatment center often said to new admissions, “Nobody quits just because they wake up one day and decide they want to.” Something usually has to happen to tip the balance, to push you off the fence. This is what we commonly call “hitting bottom.” The question is - just how much does it take? Clinicians who work with addiction put forth a lot of effort to see that a person gets off the elevator before it hits the bottom floor.
Hitting bottom means coming to the conclusion that you are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” You are not getting the same pleasure from the substances you are using, and they are no longer eliminating uncomfortable feelings.
You don’t feel so good anymore when you are using, but you feel worse when you aren’t. If you’re addicted to alcohol, one of the depressant drugs, or an opiate, you have the additional problem of the discomfort of withdrawal whenever you decide to stop using.
Many people will stay in this situation for a long time. You can talk yourself into almost anything, and if you really feel you have no choice but to continue using, you really have to crank up the denial. It becomes very important to find some justification to keep using and to block out the painful awareness that the addiction is destroying you.
A number of circumstances can keep you stuck in this situation and prevent you from successfully getting into recovery.
Some of the most common ones involve your family. We’ll take a moment to look at these in more detail.
This section is for all concerned loved ones. Even though they have much at stake when it comes to the addict getting into recovery, they are also most likely to get in the way.