Addicts can stop if they want to badly enough. An addict who is actively drinking or using drugs is not able to make choices about whether or. What Not to Say to Someone With a Drug Addiction know has a drug addiction. Often people mean well, but can cause more harm than good. Not only are they forced to follow life's and the treatment center's rules, but they also frequently can't get a good handle on their emotional state.
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When you were an addict, your life most likely revolved around drinking or getting high. What will you do with your time now? Addiction has left a vacuum in your life, and now is the time for you to fill that vacuum with something constructive, engaging and enjoyable.
Find a new hobby, start volunteering, pursue an education that will help you further your career, or do anything else which will set your new life on the right path. How often did you work out while you were drinking or using drugs? You may be sober now, but are you healthy? Getting into a regular exercise routine can make a world of difference in improving your energy levels, your sense of well-being, and your feeling of self-confidence.
Whether you take up running or cycling, start going to the gym, or join a team, you can take things to a whole other level by getting into shape. An added benefit of this is that exercising will tend to put you in the company of other people who are dedicated to living healthy lifestyles, which will help to support you in your new life. If you were like most people who have spent years drinking or using drugs, you likely did not have the best diet during that time.
The condition of your body is affected by what you eat, and your body may now be showing the signs of a long period of malnutrition. Cut out junk food from your diet, keep sugar and unhealthy fats to a minimum, and load up on fresh vegetables and fruits, fish and lean meats.
Drink plenty of water, and avoid having too much coffee. Whatever your sleep schedule was while you were addicted, it was in all likelihood, not one that was conducive to good physical and mental health.
You might be surprised to see what a difference it can make to get yourself into a rhythm of sleeping for eight hours every night.
It can translate to higher energy levels, a far better mood, sharper mental alertness, less illness and more. Perhaps the most important step you can take following your recovery from addiction is to figure out what your goals are in life and to set about following those goals. In fact, this will tend to make the other things happen, since once you are headed along a trajectory towards your goals, things, like getting enough rest and getting along with your family, will have to fall into line.
This is especially important if you became an addict when you were in your teens, when you may not have already worked out the goals for your future. The future is a blank slate, and it is up to you to decide what you want to be, do and have in life, but you have to make that decision and carry it out.
As a shop steward, he regularly demonstrated the strength of his convictions by pressing worker complaints and defending fellow union members, even though he felt he was punished by being sent out on service calls to the worst neighborhoods.
This colleague made Ozzie see a connection between his anticorporate values and his smoking, producing the revelation that smoking ran counter to his overwhelming desire to be free from company control.
When Ozzie realized that smoking compromised the most important element in his self-definition. After finishing the last pack he purchased, Ozzie never smoked again. Children learn values from the people around them.
Most importantly, they learn values from their parents or the people who raise them. But people also learn many values from their peers and the groups that they belong to. Research regularly demonstrates the power of shared values in relation to alcohol. Intrigued, he undertook a study of this community. He discovered that 15, arrests had been recorded in Chinatown , but not one of these arrests included an observation of drunkenness. After further examining drinking styles, attitudes, and social occasions in Chinatown , the sociologist, Milton Barnett, wrote:.
The children drank, and they soon learned a set of attitudes that attended the practice. While drinking was socially sanctioned, becoming drunk was not. The individual who lost control of himself under the influence of liquor was ridiculed and, if he persisted in his defection, ostracized.
His lack of continued moderation was regarded not only as a personal shortcoming, but as a deficiency of the family as a whole. In this day and age, social shaming might seem outdated, ludicrous, even psychologically damaging. Nonetheless, within Chinese culture—a very large group worldwide—it has been a very effective technique for training children. Few other communities are as unified in their values as Chinatown was in the s.
However, ethnic and religious groups still convey strong values about substance use and abuse. One group long noted for its distinctive drinking style is the Jews. The exhibit pointed out that Jews had, since antiquity, developed a ritualistic, moderate approach to alcohol consumption that contrasted with the periodic, orgiastic use of alcohol by neighboring tribes. When the claim is made that Jews have historically been moderate drinkers, objections are always raised that this is no longer true.
Both reported that they personally knew an alcoholic Jew who hid his drinking. Both had read accounts that traditionally low Jewish alcoholism rates were rising. They consulted with experts, one of whom claimed that the Jewish alcoholism rate was growing alarmingly. However, after conducting intensive interviews designed to elicit hidden alcohol problems, the researchers failed to uncover a single Jewish alcohol abuser among a random sample of Jewish respondents. Only a quarter of the sample had even heard rumors of Jews with drinking problems—generally stories about distant relatives.
The accuracy of these self-reports, ironically,was upheld by the very alcoholism expert who had issued an alarm on Jewish alcoholism to the investigators. The so-called expert on Jewish alcoholism reported that in a city of about ten thousand Jews, he knew of five Jewish alcoholics. Even this microscopic number was questioned by the other experts the researchers consulted, who said they knew at most of one or two Jews with a drinking problem.
All in all, the Jews and the Chinese are striking examples of how groups around the world determine behavior toward powerful intoxicants such as alcohol. How do these groups teach the value of moderation? Glassner and Berg identified four factors or techniques that enabled Jews to avoid drinking problems and which in fact closely resemble what we saw of Chinese American techniques:.
Think now about how you were introduced to alcohol and, if your family drank, how alcohol was dealt with at home. Did your parents drink regularly at dinner or at cocktail hour?
Did your parents regularly have parties where alcohol was served? Or did they bring out alcohol on special family occasions? In any case, was the drinking a controlled and positive experience? Were you allowed to have small amounts of alcohol as a child on these occasions? On the other hand, did one or both of your parents consume alcohol alone, even secretly? Overall, how did you feel about the drinking you observed at home? How has this affected your own drinking experiences?
Finally, how do you treat—or plan to treat—alcohol in the family you now have or envision having? Do you expect to consume alcohol with your children present? On what occasions and in what manner will you drink? Do you plan to offer your children tastes of alcohol? There are no right answers to these questions.
If you come from a family of origin that did not drink or had negative drinking rituals or habits, you might not feel comfortable drinking with your own family. In any case, however, you should think through your approach to this critical question. Generally speaking, being raised in a community that instills values of moderation, health, and responsibility will help a person avoid addiction. People with these values are less likely to become addicted and, if they do become addicted, they will have an easier time fighting the addiction.
However, there are exceptions to these rules. If we go to a local park and watch the people who get up at dawn to run, we would expect very few to be drug addicts, alcoholics, or smokers. And we would be right. But, as we know, some professional athletes do become addicts or alcoholics.
We can provide several explanations for these exceptions. First of all, not all good, or even great, athletes value their bodies and health as much as we might think. Mickey Mantle was a prime example. As children, they might have learned to place a strong emphasis on their performance, but not necessarily on taking care of their bodies. Second, when we see that some professional athletes from deprived backgrounds succumb to addictions, we need to think about the many people from similar backgrounds who are not athletes—the prevalence of alcohol and drug problems among young men in these communities is far higher than it is for professional athletes.
Take the example of two children, one of whom has been well cared for, values himself or herself, feels he or she has a great future, and cares very much about his or her health. The other child has not been so well cared for, thinks that no matter what he or she does the future is bleak, has regularly seen people smoke and drink to excess, and cares little about his or her health. Do you think each of these children is equally likely to become a drug or alcohol addict?
Do you think it is important for you to raise your child to be more like the former child? Although most of us recognize that the former parenting techniques are superior, we are simultaneously given the message via the disease theory of alcoholism and other addictions that how you treat your children has no impact on their likelihood of being substance abusers.
In fact, we know that these two hypothetical children are not equally likely to become drug addicts, and research on high-risk children, which I review later in the book, proves what you already know to be true. Newspapers and experts love to warn that addiction and alcoholism strike doctors as well as day laborers, professors as well as bus drivers, politicians as well as gardeners, and so on.
Data from epidemiologic research about drinking in the United States shows that this is not true. The same is true in the case of drugs. Many people experiment with drugs in the United States. In fact, inner-city youths and adults are no more likely to try drugs than those in our prosperous suburbs. This is an important realization, because a disproportionate number of the people in jail for using drugs are from inner cities.
This injustice results because drug enforcement is disproportionately imposed on people of color and poor people, whose drug consumption is more public. Nonetheless, not all those who use drugs are equally likely to become and to stay addicts. For example, in the early s, when cocaine became highly popular in the United States, many people were said to become addicted to it. Public health efforts were launched to alert Americans to the dangers of cocaine.
By , the entire profile of cocaine use in the country had changed. The migration of cocaine use—and addiction—down the social ladder was not surprising. It was foreshadowed by what had already happened with a legal substance, nicotine.
When the serious health risks of smoking were first announced by the surgeon general in , about 35 percent of adult Americans smoked cigarettes. Within twenty-five years, significant numbers of Americans had stopped smoking. But this cessation of smoking did not occur evenly across the population. In , about the same 35 percent of those with a high school education or less still smoked.
Yet just half that proportion of college grads smoked! Over time, all people have a chance to catch up, and smoking has declined among all social groups in America just as crack use has declined in inner cities. Whereas in 37 percent of African American men and 27 percent of white men smoked, by the figures were 28 and 25 percent, respectively.
Why are people in higher social categories superior at resisting and desisting addiction? There was a famous exchange between the great American authors F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. But there are other differences between the privileged and the underprivileged.
Privileged people pay more attention to information about health—that is, they value health more. Their backgrounds and environments give them advantages in understanding and appreciating health information.
Values also explain why more middle-class and uppermiddle-class people drink alcohol. They are more likely to believe that they can keep the practice under control—and they are right! This value is one of self-efficacy, or the view that it is important and possible to determine your own destiny.
Notice the difference between this view, or value, and that purveyed by AA. People are taught in AA that it is wrong—arrogant, unhealthy, even sacrilegious—to think you control your own existence. But for many other people, this belief is the basis of their mental health and successful adjustment. No social class is immune from problems or is inherently better at enjoying life.
And, of course, poorer people do have real disadvantages to live with, making it harder for them to be self-efficacious. But middle-class values of self-control, achievement, healthfulness, self-efficacy, and responsibility are significant factors in controlling excess and addiction.
Such values are not exclusively middle-class. Some people whom we would expect to have such values on the basis of their backgrounds do not in fact have them. And many people from deprived or traumatic backgrounds do develop addiction-resistant values. Also, people change their values—most adolescents think very differently about themselves and their lives and consider very different things important than do adults.
I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps.
We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. Religion is less obviously injected into AA today. But some overtly religious values are still communicated by AA and other twelve-step programs. And these people can overcome addictions in their own independent way. Powerlessness may thus be a more controversial aspect of the AA philosophy than its roots in Christianity. Many addicted people already believe they are powerless before ever encountering the twelve steps.
In many ways, this is part and parcel of the addiction. For example, believing that alcoholism is a disease, that no one escapes the grip of heroin or cigarettes, that withdrawal from either is too horrible to resist, or that you are born to be addicted plays into the power and irresistibility of the way you experience the substance or activity to which you become addicted.
Psychologist William Miller and his colleagues at the University of New Mexico conducted an important study in which they tracked subjects who reported for outpatient treatment for an alcohol problem. Think of it—treatment in the United States is geared primarily toward teaching people to believe something that makes it more likely that they will relapse! Instead, psychological theory and research indicate that it is more empowering and successful for you to believe in—and to value—your own strength.
In this view, the critical element in cure is to develop your sense of self-efficacy. Yet if you express this view, or that you are uncomfortable with the value of powerlessness taught in the twelve-step approach, you will be told that you are in denial and that you cannot succeed at quitting addiction. We often wonder why so many people decline to enter treatment or to join AA. If you believe the AA model and treatment personnel, these statements represent denial.
Contradicting this, the subjects Tuchfeld selected for his study had successfully eliminated their drinking problems for many years. That would make me drink twice as much. And as far as a doctor is concerned. These voices clearly illustrate that some people are eager for an alternative to AA. And independent recovery is a valid option—especially when we consider that the large majority of addicts do quit on their own.
It is entirely possible that the repeated alcoholic or addictive relapses of people such as Joan Kennedy, Robert Downey Jr. If they were counseled more about self-reliance, they might be more successful in fighting addiction.
Nonetheless, it is not for this book, or anyone else, to determine the best path for you.
10 Tips for a New Start After Addiction
Despite consistently low success rates, that's not likely to stop flies in the face of research indicating that a great majority of those addicted to. Great minds such as Oprah Winfrey, Russell Brand and Joe Biden agree: “To reject the disease label is not to demote addiction, nor is it to. You may feel great, reinvigorated and recharged, and you should absolutely live . addicted, it was in all likelihood, not one that was conducive to good physical.