Most of the enquiries I get are not from folks already in recovery, but from those at the start of the journey. In fact, they’re not even off the starting blocks yet. Which is fine.
That’s where the bulk of people are with addiction, when they start reading about the possibility of getting better, before getting treatment. I believe they call it ‘pre-contemplation’.
The most common query is ‘how do I start’?
I think what they’re really asking is “How do *I* start?”
In other words, I’m unable to get started in recovery due to multiple factors that are personal to me, how do I do it with all the factors going in my life?
Sadly I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this sort of question, as it is so unique.
I would say, that to get into treatment, or get well some other way, there needs to be an appropriate balance in your life of pain .v. reward, before you’ll get off those starting blocks.
What I mean to say is, we’re all motivated in different ways. Addiction recovery is no different.
A sponsor I had, who went to private rehab clinic Abbeycare pointed this out to me a long time ago:
Some find greater encouragement from seeing what could go right in recovery, how life could be turned around without the alcohol, the support we might get, the encouraging words and glances as we make our way.
Others are less motivated positively, and more motivated by what they’re trying to avoid, or get away from.
In this case, it’s a case of, how much (emotional) pain is too much? Before you throw in the towel and allow others to help?
I’ve seen some truly tragic results of alcoholism in my time. Accidents, relationships broken, families lost entirely, hospital admissions, and yes, death.
If we don’t learn the lessons in time, we can pay a very dear price indeed.
I would say, especially at the start of the journey, and being as affected by the chemistry of alcohol as much as anything else, I’ve yet to witness a positive, affirmative, and assertive alcoholic going into treatment.
Usually, we’re a depressed bunch, running the gamut of anxiety, sadness, and everything in between.
And sadly, there’s often a history of loss and trauma there too.
But the moral to this story is – use this to your advantage. Understand that when the pain becomes overwhelming, it may be the most useful mechanism to get you better that you could possibly find.
You don’t or won’t know that initially of course. It’s difficult to see the learnings from something you’ve not been through yet.
But when you think of the other issues in life, when you think back, can you think of an overwhelming pain, that caused you to make significant changes, that you couldn’t otherwise have achieved? There must be one.
This is how to tends to work at the start of addiction treatment.
It’s not always going to be this hard. It does get easier.
And if acknowledging the pain that’s been caused, the relationships hurt and lost, the catastrophes unfolded, the physical and emotional harm caused by drug or alcohol addiction, is the only way to get the help and move forward, then use it to your advantage.
There’s a huge difference between using pain as a motivator in this way, knowing that you’re using it for a positive good, and simply experiencing the pain without this knowledge.
It’s easier to handle, easier to understand, and will make the start of your journey just a little easier.