This article was written by Nick Goldberg and published by RCA
Achieve your New Year’s resolution to quit drugs and alcohol
While it’s customary to begin the new year with resolutions large and small, the hard reality is that 33% of resolutions survive the end of January and only 8% of people keep them overall. But it doesn’t have to be this way. By following certain approaches, you can boost your chances of success in the new year. Whether you want to stop using drugs and alcohol, begin or re-dedicate yourself to the journey of recovery from addiction, the strategies below can help you succeed.
Is it a habit or an addiction?
Before considering the strategies themselves, you might be unsure whether your use of drugs and alcohol is simply a bad habit or a full-fledged addiction. While the points below could help you counteract either, it’s worth mentioning some criteria to help you figure out the patterns of your use.
Roughly, we can recognize two kinds of criteria that distinguish addiction from a mere habit. The clinical criteria of addiction are the presence of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal in your use of a substance. If your tolerance for the substance increases over time as you continue to use it, if you depend on the routine use of drugs and alcohol to deal with everyday activities, and if taking less of it causes physical and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms, that is a sign of addiction. Another distinguishing mark of addiction, consistent with the first, is the unmanageability in your life caused by the substance. If your use of drugs and alcohol causes repeated harm to your work, relationships, financial standing, general health and well-being, that too is a sign that what you’re contending with is more serious than a bad habit.
Five strategies to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution to overcome addiction
- Seek professional help. If you have tried to cut back on your own and find it difficult or impossible to do so, you may be struggling from addiction. If you think you need help, Recovery Centers of America is here to support you. The following are some helpful steps you can take right now, and we are also available 24/7 to support you at 1-800-RECOVERY.
- Find support. Breaking free from the bonds of addiction is not something you ought to do alone. Plus, your chances for success increase with a positive support system around you. Good help is available to you immediately and at every step of the way. Apart from the resources of a reliable treatment facility (listed below), you can also benefit from the structured community support of a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. In general, having a support system of family, friends or like-minded peers is an excellent aid to help you stay motivated and accountable, whether your goal is to give up drugs and alcohol, or anything else.
- Focus on the task at hand. A major reason people fall short of their resolutions is that they take on too much too soon. Rather than looking at the mountain, embark on the first few steps. If your goal is to run a marathon, don’t run yourself ragged—run at a reasonable pace, starting wherever you are, and build out from there. Likewise, in overcoming addiction, instead of thinking about a lifetime of abstinence, focus on making it through the day. Indeed, the 12-step programs are ‘just for today’ programs, reminding you to stay grounded in the daily life of recovery, beginning with acceptance, and producing change gradually over time.
- Avoid self-sabotage. While your motivation to change might initially arise from guilt or shame over your struggles, the solution is not self-punishment or self-sabotage. Overcoming destructive patterns of behavior should not involve beating yourself up over them. And doing so can very well perpetuate the pattern. You don’t deserve punishment for your problem. Living a different, healthier kind of life is an act of self-love.
- Record your progress. It’s not always easy to gauge your development over time. Some goals are directly measurable, like the quantities involved in diet and exercise. Others are less immediately quantifiable. For growth in recovery from drugs and alcohol, participation in a 12-step program allows you to measure your success by recognizing milestones along the way—first day, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months, one year, 18 months and multiple years beyond. Aside from this specific count, it is beneficial to register your other successes and challenges in regular writing, like a journal. That way, you can take the measure of your progress as you maintain focus on the ongoing journey.
Recovery Centers of America helps you break free from your unhealthy relationship to drugs and alcohol
If you think you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol and need addiction treatment, Recovery Centers of America offers a variety of services to help you get grounded in the life-changing resolution to live free from drugs and alcohol.
Residential, or inpatient treatment provides a structured setting for the foundation of your recovery. As you begin your recovery, individual, group and family therapy will help you to start to resolve issues from the past and develop effective strategies for dealing with your feelings, thoughts and actions in the present.
Outpatient Services (In-person and Telehealth)
Outpatient treatment, available in-person and digitally through Recovery Centers of America’s ShoutoutTM app, allows you to maintain your regular schedule while receiving ongoing addiction treatment at a level of care that fits your needs.
Find a community for a lifetime of recovery through Recovery Centers of America’s Alumni Association. As you flourish in your long-term recovery, build a support network and stay connected through meetings and events.