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Living with Addiction, But Avoiding Your Drug of Choice

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Avoiding Your Drug of Choice

All drugs have long-term consequences and cause damage to your body and mind. However, the level of severity of these consequences varies a considerable amount. There are many addictive drugs that are legal and socially acceptable. These drugs, while not necessarily good for you, may still be the lesser of two evils compared to your drug of choice.  

  • Cigarettes
  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Sugar

Developing a compulsion isn’t a character flaw; it is important to understand that it takes more than willpower to overcome drug addiction. Abusing illegal or prescription drugs alters the body’s function either physically or psychologically, causing changes in the brain and creating powerful cravings and a desire to use drugs that can make sobriety seem like an impossible goal. 

Even if your situation seems hopeless or you’ve tried and failed to quit using your drug of choice cold turkey many times before, recovery is never out of reach. Recovery requires time, motivation, and support, but with the right treatment and professional, effective, and individualized interventions, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life. 

 

Quitting Your Addictive Behaviors 

For many people struggling with drug addiction, the most challenging step toward recovery is the very first one: acknowledging that you have an addiction problem and deciding to make a change. It’s completely normal to feel uncertain about whether you’re ready to start recovery or if you have what it takes to quit your drug of choice. Quitting seems specifically challenging if you have a physical dependence on a drug. 

Since addiction is a disease, and we are not health professionals, and you may be concerned about how you’re going to find an alternative to treat a medical condition. Committing yourself to a sober life involves making changes in your lifestyle, including:

  • How you cope with stress and anxiety
  • Setting boundaries for who you allow in your life
  • How you spend your free time
  • What you think about yourself
  • Prescription drugs you take

There is no “right or wrong” way to feel while you are quitting your drug of choice. Many different treatment programs can help you during the process of overcoming substance abuse, including medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapies.

shoes on a bullseye with note stuck in the middle saying keep walking

It’s good to find substitutes for the substance and behaviors you were engaged in before. Many people with addictions consider themselves to have “addictive personalities.” They may substitute starting to drink coffee regularly or exercising for prescription opioid abuse, or some other type of drug habit. It’s best if the substitutions are healthy distractions, but regardless it’s not hard for a habit to be more healthy than hard drug abuse. 

 

Physical Dependence on your Drug of Choice

Drug abuse over a moderate period of time will create physical dependence and affect almost all of the systems in your body. When you suddenly stop drinking alcohol or using hard drugs, you’re likely to get substance withdrawal symptoms such as:

  1. Strong drug cravings
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Enlarged pupils
  4. Yawning
  5. Bellyaches
  6. Chills and goosebumps
  7. Nausea and vomiting
  8. Body pains
  9. Agitation and severe mood swings
  10. Delirium tremens (potentially fatal)

Since withdrawal symptoms cause extreme discomfort and can be potentially deadly, medical detox is highly recommended when you’re ready to stop using.  

 

Substance Withdrawal

Withdrawal syndrome is a significant reason for relapse and further drug abuse, even after you have completed your rehab program. But proper medications and addiction treatment can help keep you safe and ease the symptoms of drug withdrawal. 

After the initial detox, you’re still at great risk for relapse. Experts say psychological and social factors are the main drivers that could push you back to using. Stress and specific situations that remind your brain of the pleasure the drug can bring are the most common triggers. 

 A widespread cause of relapse  is overconfidence in the idea that you have everything under control, and one drink, drug use, binge, won’t matter. 

Sometimes a relapse is a single drink or use, and you might find you don’t even enjoy it anymore, or it could be a slippery slope to using your drug of choice regularly or excessively again. It could even mean a life-threatening overdose.

Sometimes, addictions can mask underlying mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and even psychosis. If you feel agitated or concerned that you won’t be able to cut off your drug of choice completely, despite going to therapy, talk with your doctor. There are effective treatments for these problems that are much more effective than addictive substances and behaviors.

Recovery from drug addiction is not a final destination but a continuous process of facing and coping with life without relapsing to addictive behaviors. It takes ongoing commitment, which can waver many times. If you feel the need to seek help and professional guidance, give Pacific Sands Recovery Center a call, talk to one of our care coordinators for free and take the first step towards an unmatched level of care and personalization. 

Seeking professional help at a drug and alcohol treatment center can help people living with substance use disorders find their way back. 

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