Most of us attempt to stay sober for a long period of time and in many different ways.
The Ways I Attempted to Achieve Sobriety
As a recovering addict, I attempted the following:
– keeping a mental note of the units I drank and vowing to stop at a certain number each day or week (this worked for a very short time)
– having defined periods or days alcohol free (this did not work at all)
– stopping drinking before a certain time of day, e.g. avoiding weekday lunchtimes (lasted a couple of months)
– going into a private clinic for a detox
– getting counselling
– getting addiction counselling for an hour a week
– seeing our GP
– getting a home detox from our GP
– Acamprosate to stop the craving
– diverting myself by getting new hobbies or taking up old ones
– going to AA
– going into rehab
Other people might try acupuncture, Reiki healing, hypnotherapy, herbal remedies, relapse prevention programmes, hospitals (including psychiatric). In worst case scenarios, people turn to suicide.
The Consequences of Addiction
While we try all these remedies, our illness gets progressively worse. We often do lasting damage to our lives. We may get physical damage which is irreversible to our liver, other organs or to our physical health generally. That is what many of us fear – but the reality is that excessive substance abuse more often damages our mental health. We are more likely to get stressed, depressed and possibly suicidal. We are more likely to start to have panic attacks and to lose our minds. If we don’t lose our minds we can do permanent damage to our cognitive thinking and to our memories. Then there is all the damage we do to our families and the people we purport to love. We may permanently lose our partners, marriages and damage our relationships with our children, parents, wider families and friends. There is the risk of losing jobs and good careers. We may lose financially including our homes.
12 Step Program
So how do we get clean- and not just cut down? For alcoholics, it is not possible to merely decrease the intake of alcohol. You must remain substance free and maintain sobriety. The most effective answer is a 12 Step Programme which has got millions well in the past. You can get a 12 Step Programme by going to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Many of us try these though and reject them – at least at first. You have to be ready and willing to go to any lengths. With this attitude, the 12 Step Programme can and will work for you.
I had been to AA and recognised that there was a lot of sense and truth in what was said there. However, on its own it was not sufficient to get me clean and to stay clean. I had to get somewhere safe where I could have an enforced period without alcohol. During this period of discovery about myself, I got the necessary shift in my thinking to see a good way of living an enjoyable life without alcohol. I got the strength from within myself – not just the mental energy from willpower – to stay stopped. Living my life sober, I am working a 12 Step Programme and appreciating the support AA gives. I am truly a fortunate individual.
If you have an alcohol or drug related problem, please call 01462 851 414 for free and confidential advice and help.