Why does someone get addicted to alcohol or drugs? In order to answer this question
we need to examine what changes in someone’s life when they take drugs. We must
understand what is normal for that person (a baseline assessment). If the norm is pain
and fear, then drugs will help gain distance from this reality through numbing. Life
seems lighter and brighter when impaired. If the norm is boredom, exclusion, self-doubt
and isolation, alcohol and drugs can be used to relax, connect with others and feel alive.
There is a social aspect to substance abuse. You become part of a sub-culture. Your
vices are not only accepted but required to be granted access to this group.
Why would someone stop substance abuse if using feels essential to their survival?
Factors such as criminal charges, threats of divorce, losing a job, illness or an accident
can prompt someone to ask for help. How can this person believe that life can be ok
without their substance of choice? How can individuals be motivated to make different
choices when they are alone? What will happen to the pain, fear, boredom and self-doubt
once substances are removed?
If you are looking for a way to feel safe and re-build your life without alcohol or drugs,
you must prepare for battle. You need a clear vision of the substance-free life you would
like to achieve. It’s important to face the shadows that will emerge and threaten your
sobriety with the support of loved ones and a trained professional. Becoming sober
means you are ending a relationship; a comfortable and predictable one that you built
with your substance of choice. Just like any other breakup, there will be pain, you will
lose friends and, new routines (without your “partner”) will need to be created.
Is 2014 going to be your year? Have you had enough? You have choices. Come and
explore them with me. Anne Walsh is an art therapist living and working in Kemptville.