For many of us, we simply wanted an escape. Whether it was to stop feeling our pain or simply to feel better, our first drink or pill or smoke or whatever was an effort to escape our reality. Which was maybe great the first time. Or perhaps for any number of times after that. But like a cruel trick, our bodies started to truly need a fix, they were becoming dependent on our substance. It didn’t feel good anymore, and now we felt compelled to use the drug regardless. Otherwise, we would feel physically awful as symptoms of withdrawal set in. We were like the magician that locked themselves in a box, only there was no magic trick to get us out.
It is unlikely that anyone ever described recovery as “magical.” It is hard work, and it is relentless. It is a lifelong journey, but it has long-term rewards. To escape the effects of our “escape.” or substance abuse, the trick is to move backward through the process that brought us to this point.
Like the times we felt sick in our addiction if we did not give our bodies the substances we were dependent upon, our bodies start withdrawal when we go into detox. In some situations, such as opioid dependency, Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) is used when detox symptoms are more severe.
The good news about detox is that, contrary to our active substance abuse, it is finite. It does have an ending. When our bodies are completely clear of substances, the withdrawal symptoms go away. How long this period lasts depends on many factors, including the drug used, how long and how much we used, the method of ingestion, genetics, and our own individual medical issues.
The side effects can be really extreme, which makes it important to detox under proper supervision with access to appropriate medical care.
In our addiction, we were compelled to drink or use. In recovery, we are compelled to work to progress. We attend group or individual therapy in hopes of finding and resolving the “why” of our addiction. We participate in group activities and learn to listen and share to help us grow and to support other people on the same path.
No matter what emotions come up for us, we are compelled to work through them and process why they are there. We become better in touch with our emotions and we learn new things about ourselves and how we have reacted to our world. Most importantly, we are compelled to work to find why we wanted that escape in the first place and to find healing.
We become dependent on God, or our higher power because we cannot do this on our own. When we acknowledge the existence of God, we give ourselves the gift of hope, faith, and the ability to trust again and rely on a power that is not our own.
We also learn to be dependent upon the present. Living in the moment. Our habits have trained us to live in the escape hatch of our substance use, but in recovery, we learn to stop escaping and start living. Now. Not in the past, not in the future, but now. We learn to depend on tools like meditation or our spirituality to center ourselves in the here and now.
Using our new skills, we can eat healthier and get more exercise. While that is commonly known to make people feel better, it becomes very necessary in recovery because of what we have put our bodies through. With a healthy lifestyle, we can improve our physical and mental state no matter what physical shape we are in.
We can use a proper diet to help us feel better physically and to improve even our focus and memory. We can use physical exercise to help us create balance, structure, and increase our ability to function. As an added bonus, regular exercise even has the power to help our minds feel good.
When we have worked hard to improve ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, then we can start feeling good again. Not in the short-term, superficial way in which we first sought our escape. But rather in a long-lasting, rewarding, and deeply satisfying way that we won’t need to escape from.
Recovery is no magic trick. But with treatment and hard work, we can learn how to escape our “escape” of substance abuse by working backward and eventually finding what we wanted in the first place: to feel good.
Wondering what step you should take next? Unsure of what services would be the best fit for you? Call Steps Recovery Centers today – 385-250-1701– to talk with one of our trained clinicians. With levels of care from outpatient to residential, we can meet you where you are and help boost your journey to recovery.