Drugs and Alcohol Advice
“I started to drink and take drugs in my early teens, I never once thought about anything other than having fun and didn’t know anything about addiction. By the time I realised there was a problem I had lost the ability to stop or control myself. I used drink and drugs for 19 years, I lived a double life, hurt the people I loved and hated who I was.
I tried many things and struggled to find recovery, I relapsed several times and have learnt there is far more to recovery than simply stopping the drink and drugs.
My life is so different today and so am I – these are some of the things, I believe, which have been fundamental to that change and may help you if you are having a problem with drink or drugs.”
Liam x – Addict in Recovery
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
The majority of people will not be reading this page to fill the time – if you have ended up here and are exploring this information, it is likely you need to change your relationship with alcohol or drugs. Whether you’re an addict and struggling with a full blown addiction is for you to decide, but be honest with yourself about how much change is required, don’t sugar coat the problem and begin with the actual reality of what’s going on.
BEING OPEN ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM
Keeping things hidden will not help you and further secrets and lies will only make change harder. Of course you don’t need to tell the world, but it’s important that you have support and break the cycle of secrecy.
I would suggest telling the people closest to you, your parents, wife, husband or friend. Of course that’s a big step, but if you’re serious about change this is a huge step in the right direction, they will probably appreciate you being open, it may explain what’s been going on and more than anything they can be an extra pair of eyes and ears for you and support you through this.
SEE YOUR GP
There are many issues surrounding drugs and alcohol both from taking and even stopping. There can be physical, mental and emotional side effects and we would always strongly suggest you inform your doctor about what has been going on and what you’re trying to do. Be honest, they aren’t there to judge you and they may offer valuable advice and information, that will help.
PLAN YOUR TIME
Whether you’re making changes to address your relationship with drugs and alcohol or you’re looking to enter recovery from full blown addiction, planning your time carefully is essential. Your old routine got you to this point, so it needs to change.
You need to know in advance what your day and week will be made up of. Be aware of risky time periods and make plans to avoid windows of time where you have nothing to do. It is most important to fill the gaps that used to be a time when you would use or drink. Use the time to do something more positive.
I was made (by Mark) to do a weekly planner every Sunday night and I shared it with him, so he also knew where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. You can break your day into blocks of time and try to do something productive (could be an errand or work), something relaxing (walk, movie, reading, gym) and something for your recovery (fellowship meeting).
Sleep is important as the effects of being tired are huge, particularly when you are stopping drink and drugs. You may have an excess of feelings and emotions when you first stop using and drinking, you may feel drained and lethargic – so consistent sleep will help you through! You may have had a chaotic sleep pattern previously, so it’s time to get some structure!
Try to set a realistic wake up time that you will stick to every day. Whether you have work or not, weekend or not, for the first few weeks get up at the same time. You don’t have to rush out of bed or the house but you need to get your body into the habit of waking up at a regular time. In the same way you need to set a realistic bed time and stick to it. If you do the morning bit, you will over time start to feel ready for sleep, but at first you may be lay awake for a while. Stay off your phone, read if you struggle to nod off, but get into the habit of getting ready and getting into bed. Eventually, your mind will follow your body and you will have a sleep pattern that allows you to make the most of your day!
PEOPLE AND PLACES
Depending on how bad your problem is will depend on what lengths you need to take here. For some it may be as simple as not going to the pub and being in places where you used to drink. For me I had to re-evaluate all my ‘friend’ circles and change my environments. If you associate with the same people, in the same places, you will do the same things eventually. If you have genuine friends they will understand and want to see you make a positive change, if they don’t understand then I would question what type of friend they are. “Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter!”Protect yourself and put yourself first, don’t be convinced to do something, go somewhere and be with people you’re not comfortable with.
In your early stages of change or recovery you need to have an honest look at your risk factors and protect yourself. The list here could go on and on, depending on your situation. Here are a few examples that may be worth considering;
- Access to money – ask someone to hold your cards.
- Let a loved one access your location via ‘find friends’ so you can’t go missing.
- Delete any old numbers or connections, dealers etc.
- Change your number if you can’t seem to break away from certain people.
- If you have to be somewhere that you know is serving alcohol or with a crowd you aren’t comfortable, have an escape plan – have someone there who knows what you’re trying to do, who will leave with you if you need to.
- Remove yourself from social media
MEETINGS AND A SUPPORT NETWORK
There are many different routes to recovery, but those that succeed usually have one thing in common, they have built a support network and connected with others who have experienced the same things. These people have been able to support each other and offer guidance because they understand the difficulties that may arise. For me this was done via fellowship meetings. Due to the traditions of these fellowships I cannot write a great deal about them. They are anonymous for the protection of the individuals and the group. What I will say is they are full of people from all walks of life, who have all had similar problems and they meet to support each other.
If you wish to know more I would suggest googling 12 step fellowship meetings and reading what you find. It is one of the most daunting things anyone can do, walking into a room full of strangers to say I am struggling and need help, but it is probably the thing that will dramatically change your life, if you are having problems with drugs and alcohol. You will be welcomed and supported. There are other ways to start to get information, advice and guidance and I am not devaluing these, but as I said at the start I will only write about things based on my own experience.
I know there are other options which you may choose to explore;
- Treatment centres
- Local Drug and Alcohol services
But in all honesty, after trying all of these, nothing benefitted me more than the meetings described above. Lastly I will just add, you may wish to look at some of the social media platforms and search recovery – whilst nothing compares to face to face contact there are some great recovery networks, forums and individuals sharing their experiences, which may help.
I would strongly suggest anyone making a change to their relationship with drugs or alcohol or fighting addiction to them take the time to read our page for advice on improving mental health and wellbeing.