Living Without Drugs
When one has been a drug addict or an alcoholic, and subsequently been through rehab, a comprehensive relapse prevention strategy is absolutely imperative. One really begins to formulate this plan while still in rehab – whether one realizes it or not. As a person clears away the debris that blocked the road to sobriety, he or she should be formulating ways and means to prevent the same things from happening in the future. The counselors and specialists at a rehab center must be working with the patient (client) as they progress, in order to lay the foundation for a drug-free life. The final steps of rehab must include putting together the relapse prevention strategy. Even this must be followed by effective aftercare. This way we cover the bases and reduce chances for relapse.
In general, the basic criteria for living a drug-free life – whether one was addicted or not – remains the same. For a former addict, it is obviously more detailed and individualized. But the basic principles are the same. If I could distill it down to five points, it’d be the following:
1. Cultivate integrity and honesty.
I realize these are volatile words to drop. But concepts such as integrity, honesty, and ethics can make or break your life. Integrity has a lot to do with what happens when you look in the mirror. Can you tell yourself you did the right thing? Are you honest with yourself and others? How does this relate to drug abuse? A drug user will get in the habit of lying to themselves and others that they don’t really have a problem. An addict will steal from their family to support their habit. But what of the “recreational” drug user? How does this relate to them? For one, the lines between drug use, abuse, and addiction are often blurred or nonexistent. A person rapidly becoming an addict may state that they “only use on the weekends” (but they drink every night…) When you trace back someone’s drug use, you’ll often find that they have been “running away from themselves” to a greater or lesser degree.
Practice being honest with yourself and others and the impulse for a “chemical escape” will have diminished.
2. Seek real solutions.
Often people just don’t know how to handle situations in life. They get overwhelmed. Life is not easy. Let’s say someone is semi-literate or functionally illiterate. A lot more people are in this category than you might think. This person is going to have a hard time. We live in a highly technological society. They’re probably going to settle for a low-paying job and they won’t have too many prospects for the future. They use drugs to phase out and forget about their situation. Well, why not just help this person to read and write? They’re likely to snap out of it at some point. The same principle can be applied at any level. The corporate executive who drinks heavily because he’s too stressed out; he could be helped to deal with his life and career better.
There are solutions for things that do not involve drugs or heavy alcohol intake. By seeking them out, we reduce an inclination to use drugs as a “solution.”
3. Work towards your dreams.
A person without hopes and dreams is essentially drifting without a direction. They can be led by unscrupulous individuals down roads they’ll regret later. They can get into drugs for lack of something better to do. Many people have an opinion of themselves that is too low. They don’t think they can make a mark on the world. A child could have had one parent who continuously told them they would never amount to anything, and they started believing it. This individual should be helped to get in tune with their true potential. A person can be gotten back to that place where they looked up at the stars and dreamed of making a difference in the world. It’s different for everyone. For some, it’s raising a family that gets them up in the morning.
One doesn’t have to be jaded and cynical. There’s a question I’ve heard going around. The question is: “What would you do if time, money, or even talent were no object?” Whatever your answer is, do that!
4. Avoid situations that upset you or lead to drug use.
If you always used drugs when you visited a certain person (a drug user), it’s probably time to take that person off your list of friends. Is that person really your friend? You’ll have to decide. If you always get upset when you watch the news, stop watching the news. Yes, you must confront all kinds of situations in life, but if it’s not necessary and it upsets you, why do it? That’s not to say hide away and don’t face life, but if it slows you down or distracts you, why bother?
You can probably isolate people, places, and situations that just plain get you down and act as “triggers.” Avoid them. Also, have a strategy for when these things are unavoidable.
5. Look for the “natural high.”
Some will tell you weed is good because it’s a natural herb. I beg to differ. Hemlock is natural too. So is poison ivy. By “natural high” I don’t mean disappearing into the smoke of a drug-induced stupor. Rather, I mean: the feeling of real accomplishment; the sensation of producing a work of art; the pride of really helping another individual; the exhilaration of reaching the top of a mountain; the joy of a family – that type of thing. Taking care of your own body is part of it: eating right, sleeping enough, exercising routinely, taking vitamins and minerals – you may be surprised how these things help to cultivate a healthy outlook.
What is the ultimate “anti-drug”? Life itself! Over to you!