If you’re thinking about getting sober, yes, do it! You’re worth it and life is a million times better sober, it just is. Addiction is a false friend and you’ll be happily surprised how much better your life is when you end this relationship.
There is a huge community of very loving, funny, interesting, kind people who live beautiful lives in recovery without needing to use any kind of substance. You will be warmly welcome among these people, if you can get yourself here.
These people, the recovering, will understand you and accept you in ways that you have not felt in the isolation of addiction nor among those who are not addicts.
If you’re ready, here’s an overview of the basic path to sobriety.
1. Sober Up Safely
Getting sober is relatively straightforward, as you probably already know: stop ingesting the substance that is chemically altering your body, and you will eventually return to a state of sobriety.
You probably already know what it’s like to detox, as most of us experimented with quitting a few times before we were finally demoralized enough to get help.
The process is essentially this: remove the substance completely, set yourself up somewhere where you will not have access, and allow your body to go through the complete process of adjusting to the lack of this substance.
Please note that many should consider a medical detox because depending on what you are withdrawing from, the withdrawal process itself can kill you. Medical detox is a place where you check in to go through the withdrawal process. You may be given medications to ease or counteract the immediate pain and danger of the withdrawal process.
Whatever approach you take, it’s important to understand that you will be sick during this time. You can’t expect yourself to function normally, and you will be at high risk of relapse if you ask anything of yourself. Protect your detox by making sure you are not interacting with friends or trying to live some kind of a normal life during this time.
2. Enter Treatment and/or Join 12 Step
Once you have the substance out of you, you are in a very vulnerable stage in which the risk of returning to your substance is very high.
For that reason, it is very supportive if it is available to you to enter a good residential treatment program, in which you are removed from your normal environment completely for a short term respite during which you have a chance to undergo a lot of work on your inner being in a neutral, safe environment.
Residential treatment will typically involve aspects of education about recovery & help you plan for what you will need to do upon returning to your past life. You will be expected to participate in individual therapy and groups, whether you’re feeling great that day or not, but you will not be judged and your experiences will be understood through the lens of addiction recovery.
You will be allowed and encouraged to let it all hang out, though there will be rules you are required to follow and you will need to surrender to the structure there. You will not have a lot of choice, especially about the schedule–there will be a lot of planned hours for your own good, and it is best to just go with it.
Typically the first days in treatment are the roughest, and by the time you’re ready to leave, you feel excited about the changes you are now making in your life to live a sober, happy life.
If you are not able to go into residential treatment, don’t worry, you can still recover, through 12 Step (which is completely free) and/or intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), where you stay in your home environment and attend treatment intensively.
If residential treatment is like boarding school, outpatient is like regular day school. This has advantages and disadvantages, but it will work as long you are able to put serious, sincere effort and intentions into recovering. A sincere wish to recover is good enough, you don’t have to know how.
Whether you join 12 Step or treatment, or best of all, both (it has been proven most effective to follow treatment up with joining a 12 step community, so you can have the support of some wise, recovering friends long term), know that by undergoing this stage of deep, hard work changing habits now, you are saving your own life and setting yourself on a path that will lead you to joy, purpose, and meaning. You are worth it, my friend!