A major obstacle for many individuals that suffer from addiction is the fear or disbelief they have about staying sober “forever.” If you ask someone that has suffered from alcohol or drug addiction, typically they have sought comfort and emotional relief from substance use for many years. Drugs and alcohol give them an escape, or are a stress reliever, or even numb mental, emotional, or physical pain that they experience. Given that fact, and years of using substances in this way as a coping mechanism, the use of substances becomes normalized. Therefore, since they are so used to having drugs and alcohol be a part of their daily lives, the thought of giving up substances is terrifying.
So, because of that fear and the belief that they couldn’t possibly stop using drugs even for a little while, much less “forever”, since they believe they can’t stop or stay stopped, they don’t even want to try. This is where the old recovery adage of “one day at a time” comes to be very helpful. In the rooms of 12 Step fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, the phrase “one day at a time” is heard often. It typically relates to the fears that newcomers to recovery have about not using drugs or alcohol. They will say something along the lines of “I’ve drank for 20 years, and I could never stop using alcohol entirely!” At which point someone that has been in recovery for some time (an “old timer”) might explain, “We don’t stop using drugs and alcohol forever. We just stop using one day at a time.” While this saying might seem like a platitude or some annoying spiritual proverbial wordplay, it does hold a lot of truth and significance.
Just like any major lifestyle change (exercise, weight loss, a new hobby, learning a new trade, etc.) does not happen all at once and progress occurs through small daily actions, the same can be said about recovery from drugs and alcohol. No one stops using drugs and alcohol all at once- they do it one day at a time. Through education, insight, small actions, and behavioral changes, an individual in early recovery over time finds that not using drugs and alcohol becomes easier, as the healthy approaches and coping mechanisms that they add and practice in the daily life become more routine.
This is also true for the person seeking detox and treatment for addiction. Many put off seeking help and going to detox or treatment because they are thinking about the overwhelming anxiety of never using drugs and alcohol again. That would be a momentous feat- an individual that has used drugs and alcohol for many years just stopping use of all mood- or mind-altering substances all at once. If they could do that, they probably wouldn’t need detox or treatment. But just like one day at a time makes sense in most major life changes, it is also the same for detox and treatment for drugs and alcohol. Sometimes not even one day at a time, but one hour at a time or one minute at a time. Often an individual needs to take it one situation at a time. Making the decision to get help. Picking up the phone and calling a detox or treatment center. Having a conversation with a professional about what type of help is needed. Following through on the decision and admitting into a detox, rehab, or addiction treatment center. Once there, taking it moment by moment. Sure enough, over a few short days they will find that they have made it through the first few difficult days of recovery from addiction. The withdrawals didn’t kill them. They can get through discomfort with help. Suddenly, they begin to feel physically better. Their body isn’t craving drugs or alcohol anymore. Once again, moment by moment, one day at a time. They seem less foggy and mentally and emotionally begin to come to, feeling like themselves again. Minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, one day at a time.
Beginning the process of stopping the use of drugs and alcohol and the early stages of recovery from addiction isn’t rocket science. It is not some wild, spiritual journey or some secret that those in recovery have found out that those using drugs and alcohol never will. It is simply a process of transformation and reconstruction. It is making a decision, asking for help, receiving help and direction from trained professionals and those in recovery that have found a solution, and taking small, incremental healthy actions and implementing healthy decisions to starts a habitual process of healthy behaviors. Over time, they find that recovery didn’t just happen, but it was a slow, steady process that took them from a place of pain, discomfort, and disconnection, to a place of freedom, joy, and happiness. One day at a time.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.