There is a big difference between “use” and “abuse” but it is not always obvious when that line has been crossed. It can happen so slowly that you don’t even realize you have a problem. Maybe the thought has even crossed your mind but you quickly push it away, citing any one of a dozen easy excuses. Stress. Depression. Loneliness. Relaxation. Or perhaps the easiest excuse of all: “I’ve earned it.” Since when did simply surviving the day justify an intoxicating reward to celebrate?
With alcohol, it all too often begins the same. A beer or three with dinner or during the game. A glass of whiskey before bed. A weekend out on the town. Maybe you take a vacation and end up going out drinking and partying every night, then have a hard time shaking the habit upon returning home. Unfortunately the sad truth is that alcohol can be a lot like potato chips in this sense — many people cannot stop at just one. Whatever the cause, daily drinking is the beginning of a potentially devastating downward spiral because the more you drink, the more you want to drink.
Another issue with alcohol is the legality. Adults 21 and older can freely purchase/drink alcohol throughout the country, from restaurants and grocery stores to sporting events and special functions — even right next to the cash register where you pay for gas. (Talk about two things that really should not be mixed, drinking and driving.) This convenient access makes alcohol addiction much easier to slowly slip into over time than a drug addition — and arguably even more difficult to get out of because the temptations are everywhere, from television to advertisements.
Sure, at first you can hide your addiction, especially if you don’t have a family. However the minute that alcohol begins to interfere with your work and/or daily responsibilities, you have officially crossed the line from use to abuse. The days of basking in ignorance or self-denial have passed and the time for a lifestyle change has officially arrived.
At times like this having moral and physical support from others becomes a necessity. Friends and family can be a priceless lifeline. Part of your support network on the road to recover. However, they can also be enablers — especially friends. One of the most difficult steps of alcohol rehabilitation and recovery is cutting out the people in your life who are enablers. Even though it is vital to your long-term success, it is never easy to distance yourself from close friends. A few years back when I decided to clean up, there were quite a few friends whose numbers I deleted. As hard a it was at the time, it was worth it in the end and I undoubtedly made the right decision.
Use new activities to help fill the time that alcohol used to occupy.
Nothing that is truly worth it is ever easy.
It’s a fact of life that people appreciate more what they have to work for. Although the thought of sober living may seem daunting at first, possibly scary or even downright impossible, nothing is truly impossible if you set your mind to it. Especially when you have the support of friends and family. Unfortunately sometimes this loving support is not enough. Sometimes you need the firm, strong, strict support that only comes with professional treatment. It is a proven fact that people who seek professional assistance for their addictions have higher recovery rates and lower recidivism numbers than those who go at it alone.
For friends of mine in The Centennial States, there is no better place to seek help with this battle than The Recovery Village in Aurora, Colorado. Their specialty is not limited to alcohol alone — Recovery Village can also help with narcotic addition, including heroin and methamphetamine, two of the most widely abused substances in Colorado besides alcohol. They offer both inpatient and outpatient care programs depending upon individual needs, however a combination of the two is usually the most effective. Regardless of which stage you are at in your recovery, The Recovery Village also has medical doctors trained in addiction recovery available 24 hours a day to assist with any patient needs, whether you are located on site or in outpatient recovery at home.
In addition to care and consultation, The Recovery Village can also assist with other aspects of the recovery process, from finding that initial detox center to staying sober after completing your recovery program. They can help you find regular meetings to attend nearby — not just AA and NA but also SMART recovery meetings — and can connect you with a whole new network of sober friends to accompany you on your journey back from the dark side.
Admitting you have a problem, which people always refer to as the hardest step, means absolutely nothing if you don’t do something about it. However if you are still reading this far, clearly you have positive intentions. Stay strong…you can do it!