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Realizing that you have a problem with drugs and alcohol can be very scary. In our society, no one wants to admit they may be an alcoholic or an addict.

by Richard D. Froilan-Davila, Ph.D., Director of Recovery Services, Clean Recovery Centers

The stigma that largely remains around addiction is heart breaking. In fact, there is nothing to be ashamed of and, hopefully, society will evolve completely away from this stigma as more and more science comes to light around this incredibly destructive disease.

Millions of people suffer from addiction. It is a disease, not a moral shortcoming or character flaw. It is likely caused by genetic and environmental factors. Some people seem to be born with a strong disposition to addiction. The first time they consume alcohol/drugs they are hooked and cannot stop. Others may use alcohol/drugs recreationally or socially for a time and then become addicted. Still others will never become addicted.

There are many different theories as to why and how addiction occurs. One thing is certain, once a person becomes addicted and the switch is truly flipped, they will always have the addiction. Though the addiction can be put into remission, currently there does not appear to be a way to permanently eradicate the disease.

How does a person know if they have become addicted to alcohol/drugs? Here are some tell tale signs:

  • If, each time you consume alcohol/drugs you have trouble controlling the amount you consume, you may be an addict.
  • If you have difficulty controlling the frequency of alcohol/drug use, you may be an addict.
  • If you have difficulty planning work and activities around alcohol/drug use
  • If you think obsessively about alcohol/drug use
  • If you physically crave alcohol/drugs
  • If you cannot focus without the use of alcohol/drugs
  • If you have poor hygiene, it can be the result of using alcohol/drugs
  • Relationship difficulties can be the result of using alcohol/drugs
  • If you don’t get to work on time, miss work, or fail to perform required duties at work
  • If you isolate to use alcohol/drugs
  • If you are shaking in the morning after a night of drinking and drug use

There are many other questions that could be asked to help determine if you are an addict. If you answer most of these questions affirmatively, there is a distinct possibility that you may have the disease of addiction.

If you have an alcohol/drug addiction, what can you do about it? The good news is that addiction can be treated. In fact, people in recovery often have lives that are vastly superior to their lives prior to addiction. There are a number of reasons for this. People in recovery tend to not think of themselves as much and, instead, think of the needs of others. For many, this can be a very rewarding way of life as they help people continuously and spend time helping those suffering from the very addiction they have recovered from.

Recovering addicts often learn to deal with life on life’s terms, and they become more compassionate and caring members of society. In addition, they often return to work better able to perform than prior to their addiction. For many, a power greater than themselves is recognized, and they ask this power for help in overcoming their addiction.

There are many paths to recovery. Though not an exhaustive list, these are the components at the heart of many programs:

  • Belief that there is a power greater than themselves, that they define on their own
  • Belief that they can tap into this power to help them overcome their addiction
  • A realization that their lives are unmanageable and need to be set right
  • An inventory of character defects, resentments held, harms done to others – a desire and plan to remove these defects, resentments, and make amends for past harms
  • Meditation and/or prayer
  • Helping others with addiction – the idea that to keep what you have, it helps to give it away

Some programs are clinically based while others can be more faith based. Exercise and diet are quite often a part of recovery programs. In addition to the help of a therapist, recovering addicts may have sponsors, recovery coaches, life coaches, pastors and priests as part of their support system.

When selecting a program to treat addiction the Internet is a great resource, as it spotlights many different programs and approaches. Feel free to call these programs and ask detailed questions.

In addition, if you know someone with strong recovery and a strong recovery program, ask for their assistance. In most instances, they will be more than happy to assist you. If you are trying to find a program for a suffering loved one, ask the individual for assistance, especially if they are willing to get help. It is important that you find the right program and that the people who run the program truly care. This should become evident as you do your research.