Listening to the stories of former addicts and alcoholics, a common thread emerges: peace and serenity. How did these people go from the misery of addiction to the serenity of recovery?
When you’re trapped in the tentacles of addiction, the promises of recovery may seem like a mere dream. “Sure,” you think to yourself, “It’s fine for that person, but they don’t have the problems that I do. They don’t know what I’m going through.”
Help is available to you. Healing is possible. Former alcoholics, addicts, compulsive overeaters and gamblers have all shared their stories, and a common theme emerges: the promises of recovery. Read these reasons, and choose the ones that speak to your heart. Hold onto them, and think about them the next time you’re craving a high. They may be enough to inspire you to pick up the phone and call 12 Keys Rehab for help.
Here are the 10 best reasons to be drug and alcohol free.
One: Free Yourself from Physical Addiction
Drugs and alcohol cause changes throughout the body that lead to physical addiction, but especially in the brain and the chemical messengers called neurotransmitters that affect mood and behavior. Let’s take alcohol abuse as an example.
A paper published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that alcohol consumption disrupts the brain’s neurotransmitters, which in turn forces the brain to compensate for the disruption. The human body is incredibly adaptable and it goes to great lengths to protect the brain from harm.
What begins as occasional binge drinking or a harmless glass of wine each day after work creeps into frequent use as the brain adapts to the effects of alcohol. Varying levels of neurotransmitters are produced to maintain homeostasis or balance within the brain so that individuals can continue to function, even under the intoxicating effects of alcohol.
But as time goes by, you need more alcohol to feel the relaxing, intoxicating effects. The more you drink, the more the brain compensates.
Because the brain’s neurotransmitters are now pushed beyond the normal limits, abrupt cessation of alcohol causes unpleasant, sometimes even deadly symptoms. Physical addiction is complete; you must have another drink or experience hallucinations, shakes, or queasiness.
Who wants to feel sick all the time? Physical addiction wreaks havoc throughout the body, not just to the brain. Your body’s primary organ of detoxification is the liver. The liver breaks down harmful chemicals, old blood cells and more; it also produces bile, which is needed for digestion, and cholesterol, which is required for cell membrane maintenance and repair. When you drink excessively or use drugs, the liver is overly stressed as it grapples with its normal daily tasks and the overflow of harmful chemicals it must break down. Gradually it becomes damaged, leading to fatty liver syndrome or even cirrhosis, a potentially fatal condition.
All in all, physical addiction stinks. It harms your health, drains your energy and makes you dependent on something outside of your own free will. It’s a great reason to seek treatment for addiction.
Two: Emotional Dependency
What about addictions that don’t create a physical dependency? Emotional dependency is yet another reason to free yourself from addiction.
With emotional dependency, instead of your body craving the drug, your mind craves the effects. Perhaps you need the relaxing effects of a joint or a sugar binge in order to feel safe, secure and comforted. Although you know deep in your heart that it’s not healthy to rely on a substance or activity to feel good, you can’t help yourself. The more you indulge in your addiction, the better you feel, and the better you feel, the more you want.
Such a cycle is both emotional and physical. The two are intertwined. The pleasure centers of the brain, fueled by the neurotransmitter dopamine, are activated both by substances like drugs and by pleasurable activities like sex or eating.
For some people, this dopamine cycle leads to emotional and physical addiction. While they can stop indulging in their addictive behavior and not suffer physical effects like elevated blood pressure, the emotional ramifications feel overwhelming. Without the stimulation of the addictive behavior, their emotions are like an out of control roller coaster. The brakes are off and they’re rising to heights and crashing to new lows without any way to smooth out the bumps.
Emotional addiction often gets short shrift by people who’ve never suffered from the effects of substance abuse, but it can indeed be just as powerful as physical addiction. Yes, it’s the effects of dopamine in the brain, but it’s also the strong and very human need to feel loved, comforted, and happy. Who among us doesn’t want to feel these things?
There’s a better way to feel happy. The advantages of being drug free include the advantages of being emotionally free and stable. You can stop the roller coaster of addiction and avoid emotional dependency. A good rehab center and support group will help you find ways to feel good about yourself without abusing substances.
Three: Financial Freedom
Let’s face it: addiction is expensive. According to The White House’s document entitled, What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, drug users spend $100 billion annually on illicit drugs. Heroin.net, the resource solely focused on heroin abuse, states that hard-core heroin abusers may spend $150-$200 per day on their addiction. Addiction is expensive.
Think of what you can do with that money if you’re not spending it on your substance of choice. Although recovery can seem expensive, when compared to the cost of addiction, it’s well worth your time and effort. Financial freedom offers many benefits and is one of the important advantages of being drug free.
Four: Avoiding Arrest and Incarceration
Possession and distribution of illegal drugs is a crime throughout the United States. If you are caught buying, using or selling drugs, you could face the heartache of arrest and conviction.
Think you won’t get arrested? The FBI reports that the highest number of arrests are for drug abuse violations. In 2013, the last year for which figures are available, that figure stands at an estimated 1.5 million arrests. It’s possible that at some point, you’ll get caught using and abusing illegal substances.
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol results in tragedy, too. The United States Department of Transportation lists the figures for fatalities in 2010, the last year reported. In 2010, drunk driving resulted in 2,020 pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 vehicular fatalities, and 209 cyclist fatalities.
Don’t be a statistic. Get treatment now for your drug and alcohol addiction and avoid arrest, incarceration and the nightmare of DUI on your conscience. If the thought of jail time doesn’t scare you, let the ramifications of DUI accidents sink into your consciousness. Not only is your life in danger, but the lives of others around you. That’s a great reason not to wait to get sober.
Five: Be a Better Parent
Addiction wreaks havoc on the mind, body and spirit. Families are torn apart by addiction. When you’re a parent and you’re addicted to drugs, alcohol or other substances or behaviors, the addiction becomes paramount. It’s too hard to take your child to school when you’re hung over. Getting high becomes more important than making time for family outings, and money that should be spent on your child’s clothes, dentist visits or other necessities goes to buy drugs or alcohol.
Courts also look askance at drug and alcohol convictions when weighing child custody and visitation cases. Even though you love your child, you may be prevented from interacting with them until you’ve been clean and sober for some time.
There are many advantages of being drug free, but for a parent, perhaps none hold as much weight as the advantage of being a better parent.
Six: A Clean Conscience
Lying, cheating, stealing…the list of wrongs can weigh heavily on an addict’s mind. Addicts will do anything to get a high, and that includes stealing money from employers or family members, cheating on a spouse or lying about their drug abuse.
Although many addicts act like they don’t care about the consequences of these actions, they do care. Their problems weigh heavily on their minds. Of the many reasons to be drug and alcohol free, a clean conscience is one of the less talked about reasons but one of the best ones. When your conscience is clear, you can wake up each day happy and secure, knowing that you’re on an even footing with the world. You haven’t hurt or harmed anyone, and you’re free to follow your heart’s desires.
Seven: Make Friends
Drug addicts may think they have friends, but those fair weather friends are only there as long as you have drugs to share. Healthy relationships fall by the wayside as drugs and alcohol dominate an addict’s life.
Friendships thrive with mutual respect, shared interests and reliable behavior. None of these are there when you’re an addict. Once you get sober, however, you’ll relearn the responsible behaviors that are the basis of solid friendships. Long term friendships are often made in recovery meetings too, and such friendships run deep. Getting clean and sober means rekindling pre-addiction friendships and making new, healthier friends.
Eight: Better Job Prospects
Another advantage of being drug and alcohol free is better job prospects and improved job security. Addicts often have trouble keeping promises; getting high takes precedence over keeping commitments. Calling in sick too often or showing up late and hung over to your job can lead to being fired.
When you’re drug and alcohol free, you’ll feel better. You no longer have to call in sick at work (unless you really are sick with the flu). Being honest with yourself and others, keeping commitments and promises all become easier over time as you learn how to live one day at a time, free from addiction. The resulting positive behaviors help you become a better employee, which leads to better job prospects, improved job security, and yes, more money. Instead of spiraling down, you’re spiraling up, with positive outcomes. It’s yet another of the many advantages of being drug free!
Nine: Follow Your Dreams
When you’re not chasing your addiction, you can follow your dreams. Addiction uses up an enormous amount of physical and emotional energy. There’s little left for pursuing big dreams like finishing school, starting a business, or embarking on a career.
But once you are free from your addiction, all that energy can be channeled into positive directions. You’ll learn how to listen to your heart’s desires and how to break down big dreams and goals into smaller, manageable steps. By taking things one day at a time, day after day, you can suddenly accomplish more than you ever thought was possible.
Drugs, alcohol and other substances kill dreams. Sobriety brings them back to life. Nothing compares to the feeling of finally following your star and achieving your full potential.
Ten: Contributing to Society
Contributing to society may be the furthest thing from your mind when you finally enter rehab, but it’s a lasting, positive result from being drug and alcohol free.
Once you’ve got your own life back on track, you can give back to the world around you. Starting with your family, friends and fellow addicts, you’ll find ways to give back to society, big and small. Extra time can be spent helping out at a community center, working on a volunteer project or assisting at church or religious functions. Suddenly you have both the time and the energy to help where you’re needed, and you’ll be able to use your gifts and talents in positive ways to better the world around you.
If you think that’s far-fetched, think again. Many former addicts have gone on to found wonderful philanthropic organizations from animal rescues to nursing homes. It’s up to you how you use your talents, but finally, as you mature in your sobriety, you’ll be able to give back to the society that you once took for granted.
Your Next Steps to Being Drug and Alcohol Free
It’s up to you to take the next step to being drug and alcohol free. If you find yourself struggling with substance abuse or destructive behaviors that are holding you back from being all you can be, it’s time to consider rehab.
At 12 Keys Rehab, we can help you find your path to freedom from addiction. The 12 Keys model embraces a wide range of healing modalities because we know that one size doesn’t fit all. There’s really no “cookie cutter” approach to recovery. We treat everyone who enters our program as an individual, and tailor a well rounded recovery program to the unique needs, qualities, and attributes of each person.
12 Keys Rehab uses the 12 Steps model of treatment. This model embraces the 12-step approach to recovery, made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, but also includes mental health, trauma treatment, physical recovery and family dynamics, too.
Through a combination of thorough assessments, the 12 Keys treatment team creates an individualized, specific approach to recovery. You’ll be surrounded by recovered addicts and alcoholics who not only teach you the steps you need to take to be sober and addiction free, but who model the positive behaviors and outcomes talked about in these 10 reasons to be drug and alcohol free.
You don’t need to stay dependent on drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviors. There is hope and healing available. You deserve to be the best person you can be and to achieve your full potential.
For more information, contact 12 Keys Rehab today.