As our world gets more complicated, so do our daily lives. Work, school, children, finances, and personal relationships can all add up to cause anxiety and stress. Often times, we don’t have the support networks in place to help us juggle everything because family members might live far away or we can’t afford to pay for the extra help. In response, people trying to keep a number of balls in the air sometimes become overwhelmed and turn to alcohol or drugs to help them calm down and relax.
While this might seem like a good way to manage the stress in the short term, it is ultimately self-defeating. The reality is that a couple beers or cocktails might feel good in the moment but in the long run, chronic alcohol consumption night after night can contribute to feelings of depression and make everything harder to deal with. Recovering alcoholics and drug users report that constant use contributed to a breakdown in relationships, problems at work, health issues and financial strain.
According to NADD, 17.6 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse and an estimated 20 million people age 12 or older have used an illegal drug in the past month. The good news is that there is a well-paved road to recovery for addicts. While some people are able to do gain control of their lives by just going “cold turkey”, it is more common to support recovery by addressing every aspect of life. This includes:
1. Finding a recovery program right for you. This could be a total immersion rehabilitation facility, weekly AA meetings, 1/1 therapy or a combination.
2. Obtaining support from the family. One of the most important aspects to maintain sobriety is to maintain an alcohol and drug-free home. The entire family needs to be committed to cleaning out the house so it’s not readily available. Family members might need to show support by tempering their own alcohol use during this time as well.
3. Ongoing education and involvement. Everyone in the family should help with the recovery process by learning about the addiction and how to best support sobriety. This can be through attending support groups with your loved one, going to therapy sessions or by taking alcohol and drug awareness classes online. Quality online education programs provide more flexibility for people who can’t miss work or school to attend weekly classes.
4. Reduce stress. Individuals going through recovery usually need to simplify their lives for a while and learn how to better manage their stress. The most common stress triggers are death of a loved one, illness, legal problems, moving, getting a new job, too much work, finances and conflicts in relationships at home or work. Anger and stress management classes can be helpful tools to learn healthy ways to deal with these triggers. Family members can also help with this by taking on more responsibility and understanding what the abuser is going through.
Alcohol and drug recovery is an ongoing process. Once you or your loved one is ready to face the challenge of sobriety, it’s important to maintain the commitment to supporting them by emphasizing continued participation in various support groups and ongoing alcohol and drug education programs.