A friend recently spent a few days in the hospital for knee surgery. The doctor’s advice at the time of discharge was simple and encouraging: “Rest, take it easy for a few weeks and before you know it life will be back to normal.” If only healing from addiction to alcohol & drugs could follow a similar path.
Medical science has confirmed that addiction is a disease. Changes have occurred within the brain preventing the addict from controlling the impulses and emotions that drive them to use, even though the consequences are obvious and often disastrous. Addiction to alcohol & drugs is manifested in bad behavior and healing is desperately needed.
The great difference between a physical disease and a brain disease (such as addiction) is that time is not the critical requirement for healing. Addicts and alcoholics do not get better simply by resting and waiting. Time helps, but it is not the foundation of recovery.
Healing from addiction to alcohol & drugs requires change. The life of the addict or alcoholic must change to remove the patterns, behaviors and habits that have reinforced addiction. They must be replaced by new and better choices. The well-worn saying of Alcoholic Anonymous is filled with truth:
“Nothing changes if nothing changes”
Old patterns of thinking must be replaced by new thoughts and ideas. Resentments, anger and low self-esteem must change to forgiveness, acceptance and positive thoughts. Stress and boredom must give way to self-care, hobbies, and new ways of living that foster greater well-being. The people who are still using, the places where drugs and alcohol are prevalent, the activities that encourage thoughts of drugs and alcohol, must all be left behind.
In many ways, healing from addiction to alcohol & drugs is harder than healing from a physical injury or a difficult surgery. It requires a willingness to recognize that life must be different. It demands the courage to make changes that will establish a life where it is much easier not to drink or use. This is not a simple task because most of us resist change rather than embracing it. But recovery from addiction demands no less. There is no other path to freedom from the destructive power contained within drugs and alcohol other than change.