I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t a hard topic to talk about, because it is. Even in today’s modern times people remain uncomfortable about the concept of addiction, mental illness, and other taboo areas of conversation, just because most of the time they really don’t know what to say. For me, it’s taken a couple of years to get to the point where I feel as though I can laugh, and cry about the experiences I have had with equal balance, but now that I’m there, I want to share my experience, and my opinion with others. Five years ago, I was a terrible drunk, and quitting finally got me to change my life, turn things around, and have a real chance of happiness, but that doesn’t mean that the process was a simple one.
It’s Not Always Easy to Be Taken Seriously
One of the main problems I had when I finally decided to quit my vices, was searching for support from my friends and family. They all knew that I had a few problems with the bottle in the past, but many of them down-sized the issue to make it seem more manageable, passing me off as the guy who just really liked to party or enjoyed the taste of wine to an extreme extent. When I started to tell the people closest to me that I was quitting, and getting out of that situation, most of them seemed to laugh it off, telling me that I’d be back down the local bar within a week. This is not very helpful. When they do finally accept that you are taking yourself seriously and getting rid of the alcohol, after a few weeks of being sober, or months, depending on how long your friends give you, they’ll use whatever time you’ve had as proof that you’re immediately ‘cured’. About three months after I gave up drinking, I had a friend of mine telling me how well I had done, and that I should celebrate by going out and getting a drink, because now I could ‘handle this’.
It sounds awful, but the support you really need from friends and family doesn’t always come within the first, and most difficult months of your journey into sobriety, but this doesn’t mean that you should give up on yourself. Remember that it will eventually work out the way that you want it to, and you’ll start to get the support that you need, even if it’s not at the time when you wanted it.
Becoming addicted is Painfully Easy
One of the strangest things that I experienced in my journey away from alcohol, was that my brain seemed to clamour for absolutely anything else that it could become addicted to in the absence of wine and vodka. First of all, I started binging on about eighty cups of coffee a day, then started obsessing over new programs on the television, getting into different foods, becoming overly into video-games until levelling up or getting a new high-score were things that I dreamt about at night.
Just because you’re trying to get clean from something doesn’t mean that you have to give up having fun, but it does mean that you have to be careful not to let an interest in something turn into an addiction that covers the space left by your previous one. Coffee is delicious, and sometimes good for you, but you shouldn’t be drinking a jar’s worth every day, nor should you be watching Netflix from the moment that you wake up to the hour that you finally crawl into bed. Addiction is easy, but if you have to get obsessed with something again, try to pick up something healthy such as working-out or a new sport. At least this way you’ll be able to get some natural endorphins into your system, and hopefully get healthier in the process.
Let People Treat It as a Non-Issue
The main thing that you want when you’re overcoming an addiction, isn’t necessarily sympathy or excess amounts of chocolate, it’s just to feel as though you have some chance at being normal. Eventually, when people get past the initial pat-on-the-back phase where they’re congratulating you on how much you’ve achieved, you’ll begin to find that the issue simply stops being spoken about. That means it’s no longer a big deal. When it becomes less of a big deal, you can treat it like one, leave it in the past, and move on with the remainder of your life. Remember, it’s a hard fight, absolutely, but the journey and the end-result is absolutely worth it. Don’t worry. You’ll make it.