stopstartIt’s time for change. Each year the statistics for addiction and its impact on individuals, families, businesses, and communities are released, piling on those from the previous year.  Sadly, the numbers keep getting worse: more people die, more accidents occur, more people go to jail, and too few seek help.

Let’s make this year different. You don’t need to change the world – just yourself. Here’s a list of five things to stop and five things to start.

  1. Stop ignoring the hurt that your using brings to others. On average, every addict adversely affects the lives of four other people. Children, spouses, families, and friends are all impacted. Your high creates their low.
  2. Stop denying that you have a chronic disease that can kill you. The science is too overwhelming to dismiss. Drugs and alcohol change the way the brain works. You stop thinking clearly, and you act without considering the consequences. There may not be a cure, but there are answers that will let you win.
  3. Stop minimizing the impact of using on your health, work, relationships, finances, and happiness. The only person an addict fools is himself. The people around you can see the deterioration and know the lies.
  4. Stop pretending that you can “quit on your own”. If it were that easy you would have done it long ago, or after the 99th time you said you would stop. Addicts need help.
  5. Stop making excuses to avoid treatment. The dog, the job, the niece’s wedding, all become reasons for putting off the day when you stop being in active addiction and become a person in recovery.
  6. Start listening to people who understand addiction and know how to get clean. There are ways to overcome addiction that have proven successful for millions. Those who fail are most often those who try to do it “my way.”
  7. Start asking others for help. As an addict, you can’t trust your own thoughts and ideas; your brain gets you into trouble. Rely on others to help you get into a solid recovery program and turn your life around.
  8. Start acknowledging your emotions, hurts, sadness, boredom, and all the other reasons why you self-medicate. Professional help is available to heal your bruised and broken parts.
  9. Start appreciating life and see all the reasons you have to be grateful. A life without using can quickly become a life filled with joys – both large and small.
  10. Start living in recovery. Accept treatment, get detoxed, and start enjoying life by learning ways to prevent your drug of choice from influencing your brain and hijacking your thoughts, your sense of purpose, and your happiness.

Take a step forward today and allow your life to change. Don’t be an addiction statistic next year. Instead, be a person in recovery experiencing all that life has to offer.