Okay, maybe I have a little bit of a problem. What now?

I feel I should insert a disclaimer here to point out my obvious bias. However, the reason I am biased is because I know it works. If I know the batteries in the remote are dead, am I biased for suggesting replacing them with new ones? Is your doctor biased for suggesting that it might be wise to give your child that polio vaccine? There is a reason that AA has millions of members worldwide. There is a reason why the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been adopted by so many other sorts of recovery groups. There is a reason why regular, participating members of 12-step programs are able to sustain long-term sobriety. Yes, there are other options, but the AA model works.

First things first, drug or alcohol withdrawal can cause serious illness or death. Your body has become accustomed to the toxins you have been pumping into it, so immediate cessation of these toxins will cause severe adverse reactions. Stopping any substance you have been using regularly WILL cause symptoms of withdrawal. (Please note: regular use is not a requirement of addiction. Many binge drinkers identify as alcoholic because even if they don’t drink every day, they cannot control the amount of alcohol they will drink during any given binge.) If you have been drinking or using an excessively large amount and/or over an extended period of time, then you should check yourself into a detox center or at least discuss your decision to get sober with your doctor. If you have to ask yourself if your drinking fits that criteria then it’s a pretty good chance it does. People have actually died from the physical process of getting sober and it is best to err on the side of caution. Be honest with your doctors and let them help you.

Physical sobriety is the first step. Whether through detox, rehab, stepping off or just going cold turkey, this is a painful process, but it’s one you only have to do one time. I met with a girl once who was detoxing in the hospital after overdosing on methodone and xanax. Even with monitored doses of opiod pain killers, she still could barely handle the physical suffering her body was experiencing as it relearned how to function without the drugs. Many people relapse before they fully get clean because they simply can’t bear the pain of it. And even at its worst, it’s really only a couple of days… but we can’t comprehend the “this too shall pass” of life and we want to feel 100% at all times, so we will go back to the problem to ease the pain of the solution. I remember that pain and I hold on to that memory. Because if I were to ever go back there, I would have to go through that hell all over again and that is just NOT something I want to do!

My name is Laurie and I am an alcoholic. And I suppose I’m going to have to make this a series of posts. Addiction takes hold of our bodies, our minds, our spirits and every aspect of our lives. Recovery, then, must reach not just the body, but the mind, the spirit and all aspects of our lives.

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