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Asking for help when struggling with addiction

Broadway Lodge Recovery

It is a sad fact that addiction is all around us in society. It is often hidden but we will all know someone who is an addict, whether they are addicted to substances, such as drugs and alcohol, or behaviours, for example gambling and self-harm.

Addiction can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. We often see people who appear to be functioning at work and at home but are deeply affected by their addiction and possibly on the road to further difficulties.

Anyone can be an addict. It does not hinge on your salary, job, age, race or upbringing. The fact that addiction is a disease of the brain makes it a complicated beast to deconstruct. There are, however, certain risk factors. Psychological issues relating to stress and depression, a person’s genetic disposition, as well as exposure to physical / sexual / emotional abuse or drug addiction at a young age all have the capacity to increase someone’s chances of becoming an addict.

It is unfortunately known that thousands of people are dying from alcohol-related conditions in the UK.

  • In 2015, there were a recorded 8,754 alcohol-related deaths in the UK, an age standardised rate of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 members of the population. This number is higher than in 1994.
  • The majority of alcohol-related deaths (65%) in the UK were men.
  • The average age for both men and women to die from alcohol-related conditions was between 55 and 64 years old, although all age groups were represented.
  • Scotland remains the UK member with the highest rate of alcohol deaths, though it has seen a significant decrease from the levels that peaked in the early 2000s.
  • Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49-year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.
  • Alcohol harms are estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5 billion each year.

Sometimes we can be quick to judge those suffering from dependency. It’s important to remember that addiction is an illness. It may not seem obvious, but the stigma and shame felt by addicts can drive them further into self-abusive behaviour as a coping mechanism. This can have the damaging circular result of greater addiction leading to greater shame, leading to greater addiction and so on. It’s essential to break this cycle to help the addict address their problem. They need to know and feel that they have your support not your judgement. Getting people with addiction into a treatment centre (like Broadway Lodge) can be a challenge. The removal of stigma and shame is important to empower people struggling with addiction to come forward. Addiction support and understanding can be a crucial early step and precursor to their eventual recovery.

If you’re worried you or someone you love might be becoming dependent on a substance or have an addiction there are many ways you can reach out and ask for support, take a look at the infographic above, help will always be at hand.

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Where do I Start My Recovery from My Addiction?

Starting Points for Overcoming Your Addiction

A commonly held belief toward drug and alcohol addiction is that no one can force an addict to get help. People who are addicted to these substances must admit that they have a problem for which they need professional intervention and treatment. They must acknowledge that they are powerless to help themselves.

Even so, you do have some measure of control over when you decide to work toward sobriety and the manner in which you accomplish this. You can start on the path toward sobriety by learning where to start to recover from your addiction.

Identify Rehabilitation and Recovery Programs

Your first step to regain sobriety should involve identifying rehab and recovery programs. You may consider sober housing programs in your local area. You also may want to look at national programs that operate out-of-state.

Once you narrow your search down to a few choice programs, you should then investigate what kinds of services they offer. You can then choose the one that best suits your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs for becoming sober again.

Consider Finances

Many drug and alcohol recovery programs accept both private and employer-sponsored health insurance. Some programs likewise accept government or state-subsidized policies like Medicaid.

Before you choose a program to check yourself into, you should find out if it takes your insurance and how much money you would need to pay upfront. You also may want to find out about any payment arrangements that you can make on your co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses.

Establish a Support Network

You may have felt all alone in your addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, you should not be alone as you work toward regaining sobriety. You need a good support network of friends and family members that you can fall back on while you are in the program and after you are discharged. Sober companions are a great resource and source of comfort to go through recovery with people with experience.

When building your support network, it is important that you avoid people who do not care about your struggles to overcome your addiction or people who compelled or encouraged you to use in the first place. You should not rely on anyone who supported your drug addiction or alcoholism and instead choose people who will encourage you to stay sober.

Anticipate Physical, Mental, and Emotional Obstacles

You may well appreciate that your efforts to become sober will be fraught with physical, emotional, and mental challenges that may tempt you to give up and start using again. It is important that you acknowledge that these obstacles lie ahead of you and that you will have to take them on sooner rather than later during your recovery.

Instead of allowing the prospect of suffering these challenges to freak you out, you should appreciate that you will have a team of doctors, nurses, and counselors to provide you with comfort measures. Your team of professionals will ensure that you get through these obstacles soundly.

Commit Yourself to the Effort

Your last step to working toward sobriety involves committing yourself fully to the effort of starting your sober life. No one can promise you that it will be easy or quick. You cannot halfheartedly take on this challenge and expect to win. Regaining sobriety takes time and effort on your part.

These measures can put you on the path to recovery. You can use them when you are ready to overcome your addiction to drugs or alcohol.


Thanks for this guest post by Transcend, a recovery community based in Los Angeles, USA.

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I was the confident “social butterfly” I always wanted to be

A Different, sober Future

Hi,

I have never left comments or shared my story before but reading everyone’s stories on your blog has encouraged me to reflect on my own experiences and why I need to act now & make a change in my life. I just turned 23 years old and began binge drinking 10 years ago at the beginning of high school. I have always been extremely shy and am diagnosed with clinical depression. It sounds cliché to say, but my first drink made me feel a way that was incomparable to any other feeling of happiness/confidence I had ever experienced. It filled the void of everything I didn’t feel sober… I was the confident “social butterfly” I always wanted to be. After that, I was no longer interested in doing anything unless it involved drinking. I began hanging around a bad crowd that drank and partied multiple nights a week. It was (or felt like) the most exciting and fun time of my life… I was enjoying my new friends and this new “me”. When I was 15 I had my first major black out. I was drinking in a park with friends and all of a sudden ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. To any other person, the simple solution might be not to drink again or cut back but I didn’t feel like this was the answer. Of course I was insanely embarrassed when I got out of the hospital, but I was more terrified about what I missed while I was blacked out, or what my friends and others at school were saying about me. I wanted to drink again just to make the feelings of shame and embarrassment go away.

Since then, the never ending cycle of drinking began (blacking out, acting erratically, feeling ashamed the next day and then drinking again). I wish I could bottle up the feelings of complete panic after waking up from a black out to remind myself of why I shouldn’t drink. But nothing is ever that easy… Things I would never even think or dream of doing sober, happened. Drinking made me aggressive to the point where getting into physical fights were common. A couple times I was so obliterated that I picked fights with my friends and family, not realizing who they were. Friendships were completely destroyed, relationships ruined. It was 100% my own fault and was the result of me drinking so much. I pushed away everyone who was trying to help and felt completely alone.

Fast forward to the last year of high school, I finally (somewhat) got myself together. I wasn’t hanging around my old friends as much which meant not drinking as frequently. This helped me rebuild my relationship with my family and allowed me to focus on myself and my academics. I have also been in a stable relationship for the past 4 ½ years. I wish I could say my drinking has improved… or in other words I’ve finally learned to “pace myself” and “drink responsibly” as everyone so easily harps about… but I haven’t. I don’t binge drink as much as I used to, but still find myself out of control and overdoing it at least 1-2 times a month. Drinking with old friends has brought back old habits leading to rough patches in my relationship. We have since been able to work through these issues, however my drinking continues to cause strain in our relationship.

Despite all of this, my boyfriend has never given me an ultimatum to stop drinking and has been supportive in trying to help me be a more responsible drinker. It has helped about 50% of the time, but the other half of the time I am completely out of control.

Over the years, multiple people have told me to stop drinking. Like most people, I have woken up dozens of times after a night of heavy drinking with thoughts of “I did what??? I’m never drinking again!”, but have clearly never listened or followed through… I have managed not to drink for 1 week in the past but ended up convincing myself that I was now “fine” and could handle a drink…and the cycle began again.

I am about to graduate university and honestly feel like if I continue to drink, it will end up negatively affecting my professional career and/or my relationship with my boyfriend. The thought of never having a drink again brings about a lot of fear and anxiety for me. Almost every social situation I have been in since I was 13 has involved drinking so it’s hard for me to imagine what life would be like. Your blog has stimulated a lot of thoughts that I was too scared to consider before and allowed me to really think about my own triggers and challenges that arise when choosing not to drink. I have jotted down some notes from your blog posts to keep in mind as I begin this journey and plan on reviewing and reflecting daily to help follow through. I feel like the hardest part for me is going to be resisting the urge to reward myself for not drinking with a drink. It sounds silly to say but it’s easy to convince yourself that you “deserve” a drink because you have abstained for so long. Making the decision not to drink is not going to be easy and I am going to have to mentally prepare myself for the challenges and temptations I am going to face. I know this is getting to be an extremely long post but I have been too ashamed and embarrassed to open up about my issues handling alcohol in the past. Your blog has helped me see that sharing your experiences (bad or good) can help with abstinence and recovery, so thank you.

MF

Notes – MF, originally wrote this as a comment on a previous post. I felt it was too good to be hidden away in a comment thread and asked her if she’s mind creating this into a post of its own, which is what we’ve done. We hope you enjoy it, and draw inspiration from it, and help you in your journey.

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Updated – Living Without Alcohol – A diary of life outside the pitcher plant – 6 Months sober

Guest Post by Steve G.

September 1st 2016
6 Months sober.

When I started this diary, in my very first post I had set the date of September 1st as my first major milestone, this is because the longest I had ever gone without alcohol before was one week short of six months. That was a couple of years ago, back in the times when I used to quit with the saying “I’ll just see how it goes.” and of course, in the long run I failed, just like the other times when I quit with the same outlook. I found an excuse to start again, and convinced myself that my reason was valid, and surprise surprise, a couple of weeks later I was back to drinking every night and wanting to quit again

Well, September 1st is here, six whole months without alcohol, that is the longest I have ever gone without drinking since I was a teenager. 47 years of being a drinker are now just history, I know without doubt that I will never return to being a drinker, never drink alcohol again, never go back to my old way of life.

During the last six months I have celebrated my birthday, been on two holidays, given my daughter away on her wedding day, attended barbecues, been to pubs and restaurants, and I have enjoyed every single one of those occasions without either wanting, or needing, to drink any alcohol. I never needed it in the past either, but I just didn’t know it then.

When I quit drinking this time I had decided weeks before I actually quit that this time it would be permanent, I would not allow failure to be an option this time. I have learned enough about myself concerning alcohol that I either drink every night, or not at all, so in the end the options open to me were a simple choice, stay as I was (which I was not happy with) or quit drinking altogether and change my lifestyle to a better one.

I do not in any way regret my decision to become a non-drinker, I feel as though it is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

I feel much healthier in many ways, physically, emotionally, psychologically.
Financially too, but that was never really a deciding factor.

I now tend to live, and view my life with a more positive attitude. I used to worry about everything and anything, but now tend to deal with problems that arise with more confidence.
I think that just about every area of my life has improved since I quit drinking alcohol, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t think of one single thing that has been made worse by my decision to quit.

I feel very proud of my achievement, and much happier with the way I am now. A different person than I was, someone who I like better, and live with easier.

I will not be setting myself any more timeline targets, I have achieved what I set out to achieve, I have become a non-drinker, and I know that I shall remain a non-drinker for the rest of my life, and that makes any further targets unnecessary.

I do not say this with any arrogance or complacency, but with the confidence of knowing that this is the way I prefer my life to be.

I will be keeping in touch with the blog though, posting anything that comes to mind , and also to communicate with others who are making the same journey, and to offer any help or inspiration if I can, or just simply to discuss the subject in general.

I would like to say thank you to James for kindly allowing me to use his blog to post my diary on, it has definitely made the early stages of my journey easier. And also for the help and inspiration from himself and others along the way.

My very best wishes to all.
Steve.

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High-Functioning Alcoholics Throughout History

Did you know that at least 20% of alcoholics classify as “high-functioning?”

These are alcoholics who maintain outwardly successful careers and seemingly healthy social lives, while under the surface, their alcoholism simmers. Their closest friends and members of their family may be entirely unaware that they have a drinking problem. They may not even be aware of it themselves.

Just because their alcoholism is not seemingly causing them to suffer at work or in life doesn’t mean that they are immune to its effects. Some of the biggest warning signs of a high functioning alcoholic are:

  • Drinking alone
  • Hiding their alcohol
  • Stopping at one drink is impossible
  • Drastically changing their personality when they drink
  • Becoming hostile when they can’t drink
  • Joking about having an alcohol problem

Some of our most successful politicians, writers, movie stars, and artists have struggled with alcoholism in their lives, and there are many who fit the “high-functioning” label. The infographic below by JourneyPure at the River details ten of these figures, their accomplishments, and how their alcoholism impacted their lives.

High Functioning Alcoholics Infographic

Read more women who gave up drink and a list of 8 men who gave up booze, just the same.

Are you loving this infographic kindly supplied by JourneyPureRiver – if so, let us know in the comments box below and add your voice today.