Being Abstinent Is not Being in Recovery
Abstinence is the fact or practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something, typically alcohol and narcotics. When someone is abstinent from alcohol or drugs they are not putting those substances in their body, they are not trying to alter their mind and body in any unnatural way. The problem with being abstinent is that there is no work being done to better the mind, just because there are no drugs or alcohol being consumed does not mean that the brain will be able to repair itself from the hopeless state. There is nothing being done to help with anxiety, there is nothing being done to help with depression, there is nothing being done to help with emotional growth; when nothing changes mentally the chances of a relapse are high.
When an addict or alcoholic enters recovery they are doing much more to better themselves than someone who is abstinent from their substance of choice. Removing drugs and alcohol from one’s life is one of the first steps towards a new and amazing life, but there is much work to be done. When we are out there using drugs and drinking we tend to put life’s issues to the side, instead of dealing with them we will drink the problems away. We use drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, to deal with anxiety and with depression. We sometimes will use drugs and alcohol to celebrate an occasion or an achievement we had, we may also use drugs and alcohol to help cope with failure or the loss of a loved one. Changing these behaviors and learning how to live a new life, becoming a better person and doing it all clean and sober is what recovery is all about.
What Does Someone Practicing Abstinence Do?
As mentioned above, someone who is practicing abstinence from drugs/alcohol have decided to no longer use those substances because of the negative impact it has caused on their life. Many people who are abstinent will still crave their drug or drink of choice daily, there is a consistent internal struggling that occurs. Many of these people will missing the feelings that drugs and alcohol gave them, they may glorify that old lifestyle. They rely solely on willpower to help them fight through each day, they believe that is all they need to help their lives get to a more positive point. Many days will be a white knuckle fight, think of it like having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The devil is begging them to go out and use again, to go back to that comfortable coping mechanism, while the angel realizes that there is no good to be found on that side and tries to persuade them to stay off the stuff.
Someone who is in recovery is working on making a new life for themselves. Many addicts and alcoholics in recovery will try and change people, places and things. They will stop hanging out with that old crowd that they used to use with. They will stop visiting that bar or stop going to that part of town where they got their drugs. They will change their routine and ultimately their entire lifestyle to help them live a new sober life. Of course people in recovery are not using drugs and alcohol, they chose to do this to help them live a better life, but for many it is not a daily white knuckle fight. They enjoy the feeling of being clean and sober, they are grateful for their new lives and often seek out helping others achieve that same freedom. Will power obviously plays a part in recovery but they continue to learn tools to help deal with cravings when they come. They learn how to live life through new healthy ways of thinking and living.
How Does Someone Enter Recovery?
Most alcoholics and addicts will start their road to addiction recovery by entering into an inpatient detox center. Getting physically off of drugs can be an extremely painful and difficult to come off of. Going through a medical detox center will help decrease the amount of physical pain associated with the detox and will also help reduce the chances of a medical emergency, such as a seizure occurring. Doctors and nurses are able to help with the detox by administering medications that help with the entire withdrawal process.
After successful completion of an inpatient drug detox center it is a smart idea to enter into an inpatient drug rehab center. In the inpatient drug rehab center addicts will learn more about themselves and about the disease of addiction. It is also a safe environment that will allow the mind to clear up from the drugs that have damaged it for so long. As the mind clears it will become more accepting of new ideas and ultimately a new way of life. Once an addict has completed n inpatient rehab center they will typically have around 30-60 days clean, allowing them to put everything they have into their aftercare and their addiction recovery.
Once in an aftercare program like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or S.M.A.R.T Recovery they will start to lean how to live a new life, a positive life and a fulfilling life without drugs or alcohol. Daily life won’t be a struggle it will be a pleasure. Happiness becomes natural again and emotions of all kinds are welcomed. Entering a rehab is not a necessary party of recovery but it sure will help make it easier to succeed.