No drug or alcohol addict runs to addiction treatment and/or recovery with arms wide open, humming cherie songs and grinning from ear to ear because their life is fantastic. But, there are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are ready to take on the challenge of treatment and recovery and work towards a happy, prosperous and productive life in recovery.
No one is ever 100% ready for treatment or recovery. If we waited until we were ready we would be waiting forever and probably be in one of three scenarios according to Narcotics Anonymous, jails, institutions or death.
Addiction recovery is almost always entered into with some fear, trepidation, doubt and ambivalence in mind. These feelings are completely normal and almost everyone wanting to get into recovery feel the same way. However, there are some signs you can look for that show you are more ready for recovery and therefore more likely to succeed and maintain a healthy, active, productive life in recovery.
Two of the main reasons people hold off on getting help or ask for help and then back out even after they have acknowledged that their behaviour is out of control and problematic, are ambivalence and fear of failure. Ambivalence is being on the fence about whether you want to stop using or drinking. You are probably still attached and feel reliant on your particular substance(s) and to living in that way of life and maybe have not hit rock bottom… yet.
This does not mean you are not ready to give addiction treatment and recovery a try, it just means you are unsure. Feeling worried that you will enter into something that will remove your current way of coping and then end up with nothing else to replace it and feeling like you wouldn’t cope. These feelings are totally normal. You just need to remember that treatment and recovery is a journey that doesn’t happen over night, like getting addicted in the first place doesn’t so your worries will not come to fruition. Ask yourself the following questions to determine how your current behaviours are impacting your life and whether you may be “ready” for treatment/recovery despite your fears, ambivalence and the other worries we mentioned above.
Ask Yourself The Following Questions And See How You Do?
- Is my alcohol or drug use making my work, school or other commitments suffer?
- Have my relationships with family or friends become strained or damaged due to my drug or alcohol use?
- Am I having a hard time relaxing, unwinding or functioning normally without using drugs or alcohol?
- Have I recently been in trouble with the law because of drug or alcohol use?
- Do I feel like I want to quit, but don’t know how?
- Do I dream about a future without drugs or alcohol?
- Is drug or alcohol use holding me back from accomplishing my goals in life?
- Is my physical and/or mental health deteriorating because of my drug or alcohol use?
- Does the thought of addiction treatment scare me or give me hope?
- Am I tired of feeling depressed, anxious, guilty, ashamed, agitated or upset?
- Are my finances spinning out of control because of my addiction?
- Is my addiction affecting my family’s finances, relationship and trust, ultimately hurting my family?
- Am I having to use or drink more and more to get the same effect?
- Do I wake up feeling unwell, feel like I can’t function without using or drinking as soon as I wake up?
- Is my sleep affected because I can’t sleep properly without using or drinking?
- Do I lie, exaggerate or visit multiple doctors so that I can get the medication I want?
- Do I misuse medication, take more than I’m supposed to or is recommended or sell or swap medication with others?
- Do I order medication, drugs or alcohol online?
- Do the people I associate with use mostly use drugs or drink excessively?
- Do I use or drink because I can’t cope emotionally without it?
If you answered “yes” to more than 10 of the questions then we would recommend that you carry on reading the rest of this article.
1. Why am I considering giving up an addictive behaviour or substance?
If it is to please someone else then your chances for success are slim. While friends and family can help you realise that you need help, entering treatment solely to “get them off your back,” is a key sign that you may not be ready for recovery just yet. If, however, the need to stop using comes from deep inside your own self, then the chances that you are ready for treatment/recovery are much higher.
2. What fears do I have?
Try to understand what fears you actually have regarding giving up your substance(s). Are you afraid you will not have fun anymore? Are you afraid you will not be able to relax and cope with daily stressors? Or are you worried that if you stop you will not be able to function daily? Acknowledging your fears will put you closer to being able to take the plunge, fears are totally normal which everyone has when they are wanting to enter treatment or recovery but over time you will realise that you can manage to live life clean and sober and actually have a better life than you currently have while using and/or drinking even if that seems impossible at the moment.
3. Do I feel like I want to quit but do not know how?
If the answer is yes, then you are more than ready to get clean and sober. Many addicts have a desire to quit, but do not know how to – especially if multiple attempts have resulted in failure in the past. Ask for help from your GP or local drug and alcohol service. If you have a willingness to stop then you are already one step in the right direction! You can find your nearest GP and drug and alcohol service on our help and support page.
4. Do I dream about a future without drugs or alcohol?
Are you imagining a weekend away with no hangovers? A day that you can wake up and not think of your substance of choice or wake up feeling unwell every day? Do you wish you could just enjoy spending time with loved ones without having an ulterior motive or constantly thinking about using or drinking while with them instead of just being present and enjoy their company?If you are dreaming of a future without drugs or alcohol, then the next step is to take specific actions that will get you there. These dreams mean that you have an inclination that being clean and sober could be a possibility for you, and you are truly on to something!
5. Is my health deteriorating?
Chronic drug and alcohol use on your body, mind and soul have an ever increasing spiral of damage and deterioration, including an increased risk of cancers, osteoporosis, heart attacks, abscesses, ulcers and infections, blood borne viruses, new and worsening mental health issues, deteriorating levels of self-care and personal hygiene, liver and kidney problems and many others. Recognising that continued use will cause your overall health to continuously decline can be a good motivator towards change.
6. Am I tired of feeling depressed, agitated, upset, ashamed, guilty or anxious?
A common turning point for those seeking treatment and/or recovery is being sick and tired of feeling sick and tired! If this is you, then now may be a good time to seek treatment. Using all of the negative impacts on your life to make change can be a powerful motivator for change so seeking help while those factors are fresh in your mind is a great time to make change.
7. Are my finances spiralling out of control?
Let’s face it, substance addiction and some process addictions like gambling can be very expensive! If you are getting to the point of losing it all, or are having increased difficulty providing for yourself, family or others, then there is a good chance your addiction is taking you down into a deep dark pit with slippery sides. If you can recognise this, and it upsets you, then this may be another factor which may prompt you to seek treatment and recovery.
8. Is using no longer fun?
Most people begin drinking or using drugs because the activities were fun and entertaining. If you find that using or drinking is no longer fun (but you still cannot stop) then you are at the point where taking steps towards treatment and recovery would makes sense. Addiction treatment and recovery can make life fun again without being bound to a substance.
9. Am I ready to be honest?
Addiction and the lifestyle that comes with it is full of lies, deceit and unreliability– not only to others, but especially to yourself. You will probably spend years telling yourself “I don’t have a problem, I can stop whenever I want, I’m not as bad as others so I’m sure It’ll work itself out”. However these are the lies that our brains tell us to keep us locked into our addiction. Addiction recovery requires you to be honest with yourself and others. 100% honest. If you are ready to stop the lies and be honest with yourself and others then you are more than ready for addiction recovery.
Now that you have answered these questions honestly, it is time to examine your answers. If you answered ‘no’ to most questions, then you likely are not ready for addiction recovery at the moment however we all change from day to day, week to week and year to year so reassessing your situation extremely frequently is vital so that you can access help and support at exactly the right moment that treatment and recovery is right for you.
If answering these questions stirred barely any feeling in you, then you are likely not ready for recovery. However, if answering these questions made you feel overwhelmed, scared or even excited and hopeful about recovery and a future without drugs and alcohol then your chances of success in addiction treatment are high, and you should contact your GP or drug and alcohol service today to get started on your path to recovery.
But remember – being ready for recovery does not mean you are not scared to death about what it will look like. Being ready means you have begun to realistically assess the impact that drugs and alcohol or the behaviours and lifestyle is having on your life and you are thinking about the positive implications of a future in addiction recovery, free of drugs and alcohol or that damaging behaviour, even if you do not know how to get there.
So You are Ready for Addiction Recovery – Now What?
No one is ever 100% prepared for drug addiction/recovery and the work it requires. Recovery is not easy but life as an addict is not easy either. It is painful and unfulfilling to say the least. However if you are willing to be totally honest, upfront, willing to listen, learn and be willing to try and give everything 100% effort even if you may not understand why or agree initially, try everything, say yes to positive opportunities and no to those who can and will tempt you to relapse or fail so keep these ideals in mind and you can have a fulfilling, productive and entertaining life without needing to drink alcohol or use drugs.
Once you know you need help and are ready and willing to give recovery a try, there are several options available to you. While some people are able to stop using drugs and alcohol on their own, the reality is that most addicts will need some sort of treatment and a long term support system in place in order to get and remain clean and sober.
There are two main types of drug and alcohol rehab, inpatient and outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment means attending a residential detox and rehab whereas outpatient treatment is community based where you live. Both have their pro’s and con’s and you must decide which is right for you. Speaking to your nearest drug and alcohol service can help you decide which is most appropriate for you and how to get enrolled. Ask for the support of friends and family and confront your addiction head on. It will take courage and hard work, but once you are ready, addiction recovery is the best gift you will ever give yourself!