Will I Always Be In Recovery?
Recovery is an important word for addicts. The word implies a process. When you are in recovery, you are working toward a goal. That goal is to never use again, to remain sober, to avoid relapsing. A process also implies that there is an end point, that at some time you will be fully recovered. Is that really possible or is recovery a lifelong state of being?
Is Addiction Really A Disease?
Thanks to years of research, we are finally beginning to better understand drugs, how they affect the user, how they change the brain, and what addiction really is. It turns out that addiction is a disease of the brain, and a chronic one. Like any other chronic disease (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis), addiction will keep returning if left untreated.
Some people still cling to the idea of addiction as a matter of willpower only, but the truth is that drugs change your brain. This means that giving up drugs becomes a difficult process requiring professional treatment. While people being treated for diseases like arthritis and high blood pressure are in recovery, so too are addicts going through the treatment process. If someone with high blood pressure stops taking his pills, his symptoms will return. If a drug addict stops seeking treatment, odds are he will start using again.
Is It Possible To Be Recovered From Addiction?
Research shows that drugs change your brain, both chemically and physically. The more you use and the longer the duration of use, the more changes will occur. Research also shows that these changes can improve with abstinence from drugs, but that they may never fully reverse. Addiction forever changes you, which means that being completely recovered may never be possible.
It may sound hopeless, but take strength in knowing that the longer you stay sober, the easier it becomes to resist the urge to relapse. Although your brain may not completely recover from drug use, it comes very close. Studies show, for instance, that when a meth user abstains for just 14 months, her brain returns to a near normal state. From that point on, avoiding relapse becomes monumentally easier.
How You Can Help Yourself And Others In Ongoing Recovery
It may seem like being recovered is a goal for which all addicts should strive. If you are recovered, all your problems are over, right? For the addict, the word recovered is a dangerous one. If you believe you are recovered, you might believe that you are not vulnerable to relapse. A recovering addict always carries that possibility. Even an addict who has been sober for decades could relapse and hit rock bottom again.
Being forever in recovery may seem daunting, but it protects you from becoming too relaxed about your addiction. It also gives you a reason to be continually improving yourself and your life. Always striving toward being a better and healthier person is a great way to live. Most people become stagnant in their lives. You, however, have the opportunity to be always bettering yourself.
Use your recovery as a tool and a process for becoming a better person. As you resist the urge to relapse, improve your life in other ways as well. Use activities like volunteer work, your career or spending time with loved ones as ways to be a good person, and to be successful in recovery. Turn to exercise, healthy eating or spirituality to make your life better and to stay clean. You may never fully recover, but you will always be in the process of living your life to its greatest potential.
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