People who suffer from the disease of addiction know all too well that is isn’t a choice. However, willpower still plays a crucial role in recovery. Avoiding drugs during inpatient treatment is simple enough, but recovering addicts must make the right choices to remain sober for life. Current, former, and potential rehab patients all need to understand how they can use willpower to manage their cravings and stay clean.
Addiction: A Threefold Disease
Successful recovery requires that addicts and their loved ones understand the nature of drug addiction. It is a threefold disease which affects every aspect of a person’s being. Its components include:
- Physical: Most experts view chemical dependency as the sign of a true addiction. Addicts suffer from nearly-insatiable cravings for drugs and alcohol – cravings every bit as strong as most people’s desires to eat, drink, and sleep. These urges are produced by powerful hormones, and no amount of willpower can completely make them stop.
- Mental: Emotional problems and chronic mental illnesses almost always accompany addiction. People with drug problems tend to suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or simultaneous obsessions with other behaviors. Treating these problems is crucial for lasting sobriety.
- Spiritual: Recovery doesn’t have to involve religion, but almost all addicts have spiritual voids in their lives. They lack self-esteem, and they usually see little hope or meaning in their day-to-day existences. Appealing to a higher power or a greater purpose is thus one of the most effective ways for people to recover.
Problems with the Disease Model
Medical experts may agree that addiction is a disease, but viewing it as such still creates problems for some people. Addicts themselves – as well as their enablers – will often make excuses as to why they’re not responsible for their own recoveries. They will buy into the idea that they are helpless, and that it’s pointless to even attempt to avoid relapse. Ultimately, they must take responsibility for their own sobriety. Addicts may be suffering from a disease, but their conscious decisions still impact their abilities to stay clean.
Stress management is one of the most important areas to which addicts must apply their willpower. It’s easy for anyone to succumb to anger and despair when they encounter problems, but people with drug cravings cannot afford to do so. Traumatic events, confrontations, and even mundane frustrations can quickly lead to relapse.
Fortunately, rehab patients can learn valuable techniques for handling stress. In particular, cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches addicts that their emotions are merely products of their thoughts. By thinking calmly and rationally, they can productively handle stressful situations and avoid cravings altogether.
Making Tough Choices
Successful recovery requires many other tough decisions. The first is the choice to actually go to rehab. Few addicts are happy when they’re actively abusing drugs, but the idea of change can be equally frightening. Also, people who complete inpatient treatment must cut ties with other drug users. It can be difficult to let go of old friends, but their influences will inevitably lead to relapse.
Finally, addicts must make daily decisions to put their recoveries first. This means avoiding bars, clubs, and other “fun” places where drinking and drug use are encouraged. It also requires proactive measures, such as meditation, physical care, and constant self-reflection.
If you’re having problems with drugs or alcohol, don’t lose hope. You may feel helpless now, but clinical inpatient treatment can help you get back on your feet. To find out how you can get help, call the number above for a confidential consultation. We’re standing by day and night to assist you in your recovery.