Figuring out how to get over an addiction may be one of the most challenging things you ever have to go through in your life. It probably will be. When it comes to getting over an addiction, you typically can’t do it on your own. Trying to overcome addiction on your own puts you at risk of relapse and other complications.
Choosing an effective treatment program is a better option because addiction is a chronic disease, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As with other chronic diseases, it’s challenging to get into remission without medical care.
Below, we’ll talk more about the underlying components of addiction and how you can recover from an addiction to drugs.
Alcohol addiction or drug addictions are a disease and a complex one at that. Addiction is not a character flaw. Also called a substance use disorder, addiction symptoms include uncontrolled use even though there are harmful consequences, according to the Mental Health Services Administration.
When you have a substance abuse issue, your focus is entirely on using that drug or alcohol. As a result of an addiction, you may lose the ability to function normally in your daily life.
When you have an addiction, you will experience distortions in behaviors and thinking. There are changes in your brain’s structure and its function. These brain changes lead to cravings, personality changes, abnormal movements, and out-of-character behaviors.
There’s a physical component as well as a psychological aspect to addiction.
When you use certain substances such as opioids or alcohol, your body becomes physically dependent on them. That physical dependence creates withdrawal symptoms if you cut down on how much you use or stop cold turkey.
Going through detox and withdrawal causes the severe cravings you may experience in the early days as you’re figuring out how to overcome addiction.
Because of the complexity and the effects on every area of your health and life, getting over an addiction tends to require multiple types of treatment. For many people, medication and group or individual therapy are helpful.
1. Learn About Your Addiction
The first step you can take to get over a substance use disorder is to learn as much as you can about your condition and what the treatment options are. Too often, people during active addiction let themselves get dragged back into a negative feedback loop because they feel shame or guilt.
When you take some time to learn about the disease of addiction, it can help you understand that it is a health condition with underlying contributors like mental health disorders, environmental factors, and genetic elements.
As you learn more about addiction, you can also get an overview of how to find treatment options that fit your needs.
2. Decide You’re Going to Make a Change
When it comes to addiction treatment, we often hear that the first step is the hardest. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s very much the truth. You need to decide that you’re going to make a change, and that initial first step will strengthen your recovery process from substance abuse.
When you decide you want to make a change, you may have a specific goal in mind. Being set on a particular, attainable goal will help increase the likelihood that you’re successful in changing addictive behavior.
Even before going to treatment facilities, once you’ve made a clear decision to change, you can start working toward helping yourself meet your goals. For example, maybe you clear any alcohol out of your home, or you tell someone close to you your intentions so they can hold you accountable.
When you decide that you’re going to change, you’re admitting there’s a problem. Again, this can seem like such a small thing, but acknowledging that you have a problem and that you’re powerless over your addiction is hard for many people to do. It’s a gamechanger in your ability to overcome addiction.
3. Have Someone to Hold You Accountable
We touched on this above, but having someone to hold you accountable can help you overcome addiction and support you in your recovery journey. The person you tell your intentions to quit using drugs or alcohol should be someone you trust.
They should be someone who themselves doesn’t have an addiction disorder. You will likely need to rely pretty heavily on your support system as you begin to overcome your addiction.
Research shows that just telling another person that we have an intention to do something can make it significantly more likely we’re able to stick to it.
4. Seek Help
Some people overcome addiction on their own without getting professional help, but this is rare. Since addiction is a complex health disorder, most people require a combination of medication and varying types of therapy for successful treatment.
You might, for example, participate in a cognitive-behavioral therapy program on an individual basis, or you could do group therapy with your friends or family members.
Substance abuse treatment programs such as outpatient alcohol and drug treatment center can be integral to your path to recovery.
Self-help groups like a 12-step program are another way to achieve your goal of overcoming addiction and help you feel good again. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are examples of 12-step support groups.
5. Make Other Positive Changes in Your Life
When you’re working to overcome addiction, recovery is challenging, especially early on. There will be cravings and a lot of things that could potentially derail your progress.
The best thing you can do to help yourself is to integrate positive lifestyle changes into your routine. For example, maybe you start exercising regularly or focus on eating well.
Anything you can do to feel better mentally and physically will be helpful. Replacing unhealthy habits and destructive behavior with positive things is valuable in our everyday lives.
How to Overcome Addiction On Your Own
Medical advice does not recommend trying to overcome addiction on your own for a few reasons.
First, addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. The model of addiction as a disease is similar to heart disease or a similar condition. You wouldn’t try to treat your own cardiovascular disease, and you shouldn’t try to treat your addiction.
The second reason we don’t recommend you try to do things on your own is that it can be dangerous. If you go through withdrawal on your own, you may experience severe symptoms. These symptoms can lead to complications. In a professional treatment program, you might participate in medical detox to minimize physical symptoms, reduce complications and help you stay comfortable.
Outside of professional outpatient treatment, if you attempt to overcome addiction on your own, you’re at a greater risk of relapsing. If you relapse after a period of abstaining from certain drugs like opioids, you’re at a greater risk of being a victim of a deadly overdose.
We encourage you to explore how to get over addiction and contact the Silver Lining Recovery team to learn more about the options available to you.