What is addiction and recovery?
Addiction and recovery are two sides of the same coin. In many cases, addiction starts off at a relatively low level – misuse. If left unchecked, it may then progress to abuse. From this, a stage of addiction known as dependency may come about. However, addiction and recovery go together at each of these stages. In other words, it is never too late on the road down an addictive route to seek help and to look for ways to recover. Most addiction specialists refer to these as recovery pathways which often involve bringing addictions and control and only slowly working towards total recovery. In some cases, this will take a lifelong commitment, but the results often speak for themselves.
How does addiction recovery work?
As mentioned, addiction is not a single state of being. Addicted people can be anything from a substance user who binges now and then to someone who has become fully dependent on an activity to be able to function normally. Consequently, addiction and recovery programmes tend to be tailored to individual needs and circumstances, often based on theoretical models of behaviour. Some addicted people find that a recovery programme they have tried is not for them. This does not mean they cannot recover, however. There are many others they might try if they do not succeed the first time.
What recovery pathways are there for substance abuse?
One of the most dramatic recovery pathways available to substance users is called ""cold turkey"". This means that they completely stop their usage and avoid such behaviour in future. Although this sometimes works for smokers and alcoholics, it is not suited to everyone. In cases of addiction to prescription drugs, medics will usually recommend a gradual decline of the dosage until it can be brought down to nil. This is called weaning off a drug. In other cases, substance abusers may use substitute alternatives to help them. Heroin users often switch to methadone, for example.
What recovery pathways are there for behavioural issues?
It is worth remembering that recovery pathways are not just for people who have become addicted to substances like drugs and alcohol. Sex addiction and gambling addiction are two common behavioural problems which can also cause great disruption. People with such addictions will often need to reduce their behaviour within agreed limits to help them control their compulsions. Often, taking up a new activity is advisable, as well, since this helps to distract the brain from some of its behavioural urges.
Why is addiction and recovery hard on families?
Nearly all forms of addiction have a negative impact on the loved ones of addicted people. Supporting someone who is overcoming an addiction often requires a long-term commitment. It is particularly hard on families when recovery pathways turn out to be blind alleys or only very slow progress is made. That said, sticking to agreed limits, often ones which have been worked out with a professional addiction counsellor, can make it easier for families to offer wholesome recovery support.