A person seeking help for addiction and guidance about how to stay clean from their addictive behaviours will have a wide variety of options to choose from. However, most do not realise that in order to stay clean once out of treatment, a daily programme of recovery is needed such as a Twelve Step Programme to keep them present and aware.When a person is immersed in obsessive and compulsive behaviours, their life revolves around this behaviour. Whether it is substance abuse, sex addiction, gambling addiction, alcoholism or any other addiction, the addict will usually have been on a path of avoidance regarding their feelings and reality for a long while. Addiction is seen by many today as a disease, incurable, progressive and eventually fatal if it is not arrested.Addicts in recovery often report having felt ‘different’ and somewhat uncomfortable with life and normality since a young age, despite sometimes appearing normal, healthy and well balanced on the exterior. Most addictive behaviours are not simply about the substance or the behaviour, they are about the individual. Abstinence is the start of the recovery process. Change and healing is the rest of the process, occurring for the rest of a recovering addict’s life.Going Into RehabWhen a person seeks help for an addiction by going into a rehabilitation centre this provides a safe and constructive environment for their being able to deal with their deeply rooted issues and begin a healing process.Life in a rehabilitation centre is also a learning experience and preparation for them to begin a new life after rehab. Any addiction requires the using habit to be broken and ceased completely before healing can begin.Intense therapy will help deal with issues of the past, anger of the present and fear of the future. However, after a period in treatment, an addict will often leave, feeling they have been ‘cured’ and can carry on their lives without attending to themselves any further. This usually leads to relapse, taking the addict to an even darker place than they were before.Secondary Care and a Programme of RecoverySo how does an addict stay clean after leaving a treatment centre? Therapy and abstaining for a time seems not to be enough, which is why many treatment centres endorse working a Twelve Step programme and continued treatment at a secondary care facility.A primary care facility is usually a facility where patients stay on the property under supervision the entire time. A secondary care facility is a rehabilitation centre where addicts have more freedom and responsibilities than in a primary care facility and is an incredibly helpful step in assisting newly recovering addicts in re-integrating back into normal life in a safe and assisted manner.An addict has the best chance of maintaining sobriety if working a programme set to help them deal with life constructively and provides a tight net of support and guidance. Life is not easy, whether clean or using. Every person alive has to face pain. Losing a loved one, work problems, break ups and divorces and other problems and disappointments, even simple boredom. Yet addicts deal with these emotions in self-destructive ways.It is easy for an addict to slip into old ways. An addict needs constructive methods to process heavy emotions, the same thing applies to happy emotions. Some addicts have no idea how to feel happiness and celebrate without using. Extreme emotions are one of the hardest things for an addict to experience after years of numbing themselves with compulsive acts which remove them from their feelings.Applying the StepsThe only price an addict will pay for working a Twelve Step programme is vigilance.Knowing is not enough – an addict in recovery needs to work at bettering themselves on a daily basis. A Twelve Step programme will help them to have a better quality of life – as has been mentioned, pain is inevitable. Yet misery is optional. With working a programme, an addict will heal the pain of living and have a method of coping with life on life’s terms, not the addict’s terms.A Twelve Step fellowship offers a daily programme for maintenance and growth for an addict, mixed with the support of other member’s experience and new comer’s needs. When two addicts help each other in life to find a better way of living, true recovery is seen. The main purpose of addicts working a Twelve Step programme is to help those that still suffer so the suffering may find help and the addict who is helping may find a way to give back what they have been given.Such a fellowship is not affiliated with treatment centres but treatment centres are allowed to advise clients to follow the programme and work the steps whilst they are there as well as participating in therapy. A Twelve Step programme is what will help an addict to stay clean from compulsive and self-destructive behaviours after leaving treatment.The programme consists of attending meetings regularly, working the Twelve Steps through written work on the Twelve Steps, giving back to their respective fellowship (such as Narcotics Anonymous), reading literature, working with a sponsor (a more experienced member of the fellowship – it does not relate to finance), giving back through service (such as sponsoring, helping out at meetings or even putting chairs out before a meeting) and allowing a loving higher power and spiritual principles to work in their lives (the Twelve Steps are not religious, they are based on spirituality).Through working the Twelve Steps, an addict will find their life become more focused on doing good for themselves, becoming responsible for their actions and finding a new way to live that is far from the hell of active using. The steps help an addict stay present and aware of their behaviour and patterns and can be a powerful force in alerting an addict as to a possible imminent relapse or negative behaviour.At meetings, it is emphasised that “alone we can’t but together we can”. Knowing that they are not alone is incredibly comforting and helpful for any addict in recovery – especially an addict that is struggling or wanting to get abstinence from their compulsive, self-destructive behaviours.After getting help for addiction and learning how to stay clean, an addict faces quite a big feat in staying abstinent from using. With the help and support of a programme in their lives, they are able to find a reprieve from themselves and live a normal life, without the use of addictive behaviours. Many addicts become extremely successful, marry and become wonderful parents and constructive members of society. But due to the nature of their disease, vigilance and awareness of themselves and their condition as well as working on their patterns is an important tool for their continued survival.
Drug dependency has become a severe problem in most countries with millions addicted to substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol and others. In recent years, staggering information regarding the amount of drug use and abuse prevalent in society has raised much awareness about the problem; yet treating drug addiction has not received the same amount of press.Many people who know someone with a drug or alcohol problem believe that some time in a rehabilitation centre will make all their problems go away and that the person will be cured following treatment. This is not the case, as drug addiction is not caused by the drugs; the problem lies within the addict.For years, any type of substance abuse problem has been labelled a moral failing – that the addict is weak, lacks self-will and is a bad person. In the present day, a greater number of people are beginning to see addiction as a disease – that addiction is terminal and incurable, but can be arrested, treated and abstinence maintained. The disease is obsessive and compulsive in nature, leading to addicts obsessively and compulsively seeking drugs and other substances or experiences which will aid them in avoiding unwanted feelings.Why do addicts use drugs?Addicts are usually incapable of processing and expressing their feelings in a healthy way. Inner conflict and an inability to deal with life and the feelings which accompany it are the motivation for addicts to use substances. Getting high helps addicts to avoid their feelings; whether happy, sad, depressed or ecstatic, addiction thrives on an inability to cope with feelings, driving addicts to use.When an addict uses drugs and engages in obsessive and compulsive behaviour, they soon begin to lose all power over their actions. This is the point at which their using progresses to a level where nothing will stop them – losing family, their jobs, houses and self-respect mean nothing compared to the desperation of getting the next hit. Addicts usually recognise their using as a problem, yet are unable to stop using drugs, despite their best intentions. They are powerless over their disease and cannot stop using on their own, even though they have the desire to stop. It is at this point that many addicts seek help for their problem.How is drug addiction treated?Treating drug addiction has progressed from the way the problem was previously dealt with centuries ago. Exorcisms and imprisonment in state mental hospitals were the normal way of dealing with addicts before more was known about the disease. These days, drug addiction counselling is based on helping the addict deal with their underlying issues in a caring and supportive way and in a safe environment. Individual counselling as well as group therapy has proved to be the best method of treating drug addiction through the positive results yielded by the combination.For addicts that have the privilege of being able to attend a treatment programme in a rehabilitation centre and/or receive drug addiction counselling, the prognosis of maintaining sobriety is positive. However, an addict can only live a life of recovery if they are willing to help themselves. If an addict does not want to stop using, no amount of therapy or time spent in a treatment centre will help them, unless they are motivated to stop and to invest their time and energy in helping themselves.An important part of recovery from any addiction is a daily programme of recovery for the addict to follow. Addiction is incurable and if left untreated will prove to be fatal, yet with a recovery programme which the addict applies themselves to daily, an addict can stay clean and sober for the rest of their life, one day at a time. No matter how much therapy and counselling an addict may receive, life will still present problems and uncomfortable feelings. If an addict is unable to process these feelings in an appropriate manner, they will not be able to maintain abstinence. Because addiction is a disease, it will not simply “go away” – it can be arrested and managed, but this takes effort and willingness on behalf of the addict in question.A daily reprieve from drugsA daily programme of recovery that is very successful is a Twelve Step programme as used in Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. These programmes are based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which lead addicts through a process of admitting that they have a problem, establishing a belief in a power greater than themselves, dealing with life and feelings appropriately and helping other sufferers find recovery.The programme includes suggestions such as meeting attendance (in which the Twelve Steps and programme are discussed), working with a sponsor (a more experienced member of the fellowship), reading programme literature, written work (exploring the Twelve Steps) and service to the fellowship and society.Individuals suffering from the disease of addiction do not need to live a life of shame and self hatred anymore. Through counselling and adopting a programme to help maintain a healthy life, mentally and physically, an addict can live the rest of their lives clean from the use of drugs and alcohol. Recovery from drugs and alcohol takes effort and vigilance, but will allow addicts who have lost everything to begin to lead a normal and productive life again.