Did you promise yourself that this would be the year you quit using drugs or alcohol? Perhaps you made a New Year's resolution mere weeks ago, or you swore to your family over the holidays that this was it. Things were going to be different. Maybe since that time, you've had a rough go of it and haven't been perfect. Trust me, I've been there. If you've been wanting to quit using but haven't been able to, it's not too late to make that decision right now. Here are some reasons why you should:
1. First and foremost, let's cut right to the chase: The mortality statistics for drug and alcohol addiction are staggering, and you don't want to be one of them. Consider the following:
- More people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 (most recent year of data ) than during any previous year on record. From 2000 to 2014, nearly half a million Americans died from drug overdoses.
- Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006-2010 (CDC Fact Sheet ).
Quitting drugs and alcohol can save your life. Literally. And there are plenty of reasons to want to stick around...
2. You want to enjoy your life again, and the people in it. You can't ignore the fact that your drug or alcohol use has hindered or even replaced your friendships and family relationships, and probably consumes more hours in your day than you want to admit. Time spent drinking, using drugs, getting drugs and alcohol, recovering from binges, thinking about using, arguing with family about using -- they all count. The Narconon website says, "Drugs and a loving relationship mix about as well as dynamite and a match -- the combination can be explosive. And the destruction can be widespread, reaching far beyond immediate family." You may have some people in your life who join in your drug/alcohol use or even support an addiction, but your real relationships -- perhaps with your parents, partner or even your children -- are likely suffering. Your career and the relationships in it may be as well.
One of the roadblocks to sustained recovery can be feelings of uncertainty about ever enjoying life again without the high of drugs or alcohol. But what did you used to enjoy doing before substances? Maybe sports (for which you currently do not have the energy), maybe reading great books or watching movies (for which you currently do not have the focus), or maybe cooking, art, or one of many other activities that require motivation and effort. Millions of people are enjoying life without drugs and alcohol. It is possible and it can be fun. Just Google "sober celebrities" and you'll see plenty of fun people who've decided they don't need drugs or alcohol to enjoy life. Or Google "sober fun" and look at the over 15 million results.
3. Right now, you own your future, no one else does. You may not be able to change what happened in the past or know exactly what the future will bring, but you can change the present and positively influence the future. Drugs are illegal as is driving while under the influence. Getting caught comes with steep fines and possible jail time. A whopping 1.5 million people were arrested for drug abuse violations and 1.1 million for driving under the influence in 2014 . Appreciate your freedom, and do something to ensure it going forward.
4. You have options in seeking help, lots of them. Treatment has come a long way and is no longer one-size-fits-all. And fortunately, it's increasingly evidence-based, backed by research and outcomes data. Plus, most medical insurances cover at least a portion of it. Whether you seek to embrace the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous or are interested in learning more about treatments that combine behavioral therapy, recovery support and medications, or even just making that first appointment with a therapist, you have the ability to choose what will work best for you. Seek the assistance of a trained professional to help guide you on your own, individual path.
5. This is your opportunity to hit the "reset" button, to become a better person, and make your life meaningful. How great is that? You get to decide right now the type of person you want to be, what great things you wish to accomplish, career and educational achievements you've yet to discover. This is your moment and no one can take that away from you. Take stock of what is most important to you now that drugs and alcohol are out. Any time is a great time to start becoming a new and improved you. Many treatment centers offer opportunities for discovering new passions; take advantage of them. Learn to love you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays." Quitting drugs and alcohol takes work, and it may take a couple tries which is okay, but you can do it. Don't give up. It's never too late to live the life of your dreams.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.