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My Experience With Addiction and Treatment

In my series of articles on Thrive Global, I'm going to share some of the experiences of members from the local Atlanta addiction recovery community. Part one features the following experience of Phillip C.

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No one sets out to develop an addiction, and I never thought that I would be someone who ended up in a drug rehab center. Like many teenagers I experimented with a few drugs and alcohol while in high school , but it was never anything that I considered serious. Looking back on it now though, I can say that those days were probably my first fall into addiction since I can remember how I relied upon those drugs to give me confidence in social situations.

There were also a few times when I chose to do drugs when I was alone, which tells me that there was much more feeding my behavior than just peer pressure or curiosity. My real problems, however, began later when the stresses of life began to catch up with me. For a long time, it just made sense to try to escape from my everyday responsibilities by popping a pill or taking a hit. In fact, it was so easy and so blissful in those early days that I was completely unaware that I was falling into the trap of addiction. It’s strange how it all happened so slowly, but that part of my life seems like such a blur. While it took time, my drug use eventually hit a point that my family could no longer ignore.

Facing the Truth

I won’t go into the painful details, but my drug addiction began to affect my family. By the time that they decided to confront me about the problem, I had already lost several jobs, been arrested a few times and was on the verge of losing my house and marriage. If I had the courage to admit it to myself back then, I pretty much believed I was a lost cause. I’d even tried to quit drugs a few times on my own but always found myself going back to my old ways within a matter of days. Needless to say, realizing that I had just walked into my own intervention was an eye-opening moment.

At first, I was mad. I couldn’t believe that everyone I loved was trying to tell me what to do, and it really hurt to hear how my actions affected them all. I was so upset that I actually left without making the decision to get treatment, but I changed my mind in a few days when I realized that everyone was serious about not sticking to their boundaries until I accepted professional help.

If you are a loved one of someone who has an addiction and needs to hold an intervention, I recommend using these strategies.

  • Choose a private but relaxing location such as your family home
  • Limit the people involved to just a few close family members or friends
  • Be completely honest about how their drug use affects your relationship
  • Have recommendations for rehab already available and take action right away if they agree
  • Be willing to stick to your boundaries until they seek treatment

Finding the Right Rehab Center

Luckily, my family already had a few options for treatment available to show me, which really helped me avoid procrastinating on getting sober. I had just started a new job so one of my priorities was making sure that I could keep it. For me, an outpatient addiction in conjunction with a sober living house made the most sense, especially since I needed to take care of my family while I was in treatment. While I wasn’t sure how I could actually get sober from spending several hours a day at rehab, it became clear that the program focused on providing intensive therapy that helped me get to the heart of the real reasons why I had an addiction.

Building a Sober Lifestyle

When you’ve used drugs as a crutch for years, it takes time to learn how to live without them. The first few days of rehab were especially hard since going home meant having to face the same stresses that I used drugs to escape from. Fortunately, my addiction counselors were right there waiting every morning to help me figure out new strategies that helped me to avoid giving in to cravings. Over time, I also included my family in my therapy sessions, and we learned how to rebuild our relationships together.

I definitely can say that none of the changes in my life happened overnight, but the hard work was worth it. Today, I can say that I’ve got over a year of sobriety under my belt, and I shudder when I think about what could have happened if my family hadn’t stepped in and gotten tough.

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