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Reasons Why You Can't End Addiction on Your Own

Choosing recovery from an addiction isn’t easy. In the majority of cases, addiction requires treatment, and even with addiction treatment, some men and women are prone to relapse. Of course, there are many factors that play a role in whether addiction ends with or without relapse. Some of these factors include the length of substance use, drug of choice, severity of the addiction, physical health, and any presence of mental illness. Yet, regardless of these factors, one of the most significant factors in successfully bringing an addiction to an end, into recovery, is having support. Attempting to quit on your own is not only dangerous; it's often ineffective.

One primary obstacle to ending an addiction on one's own is that long-term drinking and drug use leads to changes in the brain that can last long after an addiction ends. In other words, an addiction has a strong biological component where triggers and cravings for the drug occur almost without notice. Even if someone has made the decision to end their using, it’s easy for the smallest of triggers to lead to relapse. For instance, stress from school, relationship concerns with friends, family issues, environmental cues, running into old drinking or drugging friends, and even a smell can trigger an intense craving.

Another obstacle to ending an addiction on one's own is the compulsivity of addiction. When someone is triggered and a relapse occurs, the addiction only strengthens. At the same time, one’s ability to stop using a substance weakens. The greatest challenge of an addiction is the compulsive behavior. Once the cycle of addiction activates the internal reward system, a rush in the brain, that behavior can become the sole focus of one’s life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities. In this case, addiction not only has a strong biological component, but also a fierce psychological component. A person will continue to use despite the negative consequences taking place around him. Due to these various factors attempting to end an addiction on one's own would be futile.

For these reasons, healing from addiction requires emotional, psychological, and at times, even spiritual development. Getting treatment for addiction is imperative. Treatment can come in a variety of forms. It might be initially seeking therapy to discuss treatment options. It might be admitting yourself to an addiction treatment center. It might be gathering around you a strong network of support. Ensuring that you have the right support around you can make the difference between whether you stay sober or not. For instance, support might include:

·         Attending a residential treatment center

·         Calling family and friends and letting them know you’re getting treatment

·         Talking to your doctor

·         Attending 12-step meetings

·         Participating in therapy

·         Taking medication for any withdrawal symptoms

·         Making a plan for plenty of self-care.

 If you're ready to get treatment, and you're unsure which of the above options to focus on first, you might start out with seeing a therapist. By doing so, you can talk about your options as well as the needs you have. You can also discuss creating a plan. For example, after therapy, you might then participate in therapy, and then participate in a residential treatment program. You might then move on to a sober living home, and finally, make a plan to return home. Also, seeing a therapist, who specializes in addiction can help you move past the stigma that can come with addiction and prevents many people from getting treatment in the first place.

Regardless of what treatment form you begin with, be sure that you're not attempting to make the journey of sobriety alone. There are many options for seeking assistance and many professionals who are ready to provide their support.

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.