Living with addiction is never easy. When you finally get to a place where you can make positive change and move onto a road toward recovery, there are so many things that can block your way, including the stigmas that surround substance abuse. Many people don’t understand the nature of addiction or why an addict can’t simply walk away from the drugs or alcohol when they decide to make a change. However, education can start with you: talk to your friends and family about what you’ve been through and let them know you are committed to getting healthy, no matter how difficult it might be. Sticking with a plan of action, going to meetings, and working toward positive change in relationships will let the people closest to you know that you’re serious about getting better.
Here are a few tips on overcoming the stigmas that surround addiction.
Being open and honest about what you’ve been through may not be easy, but it’s the best way to help your loved ones see into your world in an attempt to educate them about addiction. Talk to them about your feelings and, if necessary, make steps to repair relationships that may have been damaged due to your addiction. If you’re up to it, you might consider allowing a close friend or family member to accompany you to a group therapy session for better understanding of the way substance abuse works.
Honesty can be brutal, but in some cases it’s necessary in order to move forward. Letting your friends and family know some of the reasons behind your addiction–such as stress, trauma, or depression–can help them understand a little better. If you don’t feel comfortable starting a conversation, talk to your doctor or therapist and ask for advice on how to go about it. Remember that this is all in the interest of your own wellbeing, so don’t attempt something that might hurt you in the long run.
Make a plan
It might be helpful to sit down and write out a plan for your recovery. Set a goal each day and start small, such as getting in 30 minutes of exercise or addressing a household task. Getting organized and crossing things off your list will help you feel more in control, which will help you gain confidence. After a while, you’ll be able to tackle more difficult things.
Take care of yourself
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to learn healthy ways to relax and de-stress. Self-care can be anything from making time to read or take a long hot bath to fitting in a game of basketball with friends. Daily exercise and eating well will also help you feel better about yourself and will allow you to focus on your physical needs as well as the emotional ones. Practicing self-care will help you get in touch with sides of yourself you may not have seen since before the addiction took over, allowing you to feel comfortable in your own skin. This will help friends and family see the real you again, as well.
Overcoming an addiction may take a lifetime, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. Remember that you are not alone, and that there are healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety.