Look Down That Lonesome Road: Overcoming Substance Abuse

Here is a guest blog from Adam Cook at Addictionhub.org

Adam lost his best friend to addiction and now wants to help others who are struggling with addiction.  Please check out his website for more, and please get in contact with Nick if you’d like to talk about any of the issues raised about addiction and substance abuse. 

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There’s an old song called “The Lonesome Road” that could properly describe overcoming substance abuse. The journey toward sobriety definitely feels lonesome since it is so personal, and you grow weary of bearing the heavy load of your past as you travel. Yet there are ways to make that road seem a lot less lonely and to make that load much more manageable. If you’ve hit rock bottom and have already taken that first step of admitting that you need help for your addiction, then you know how lonely it can feel.


But it doesn’t have to be that way. According to The New York Times, as of last year, about 21 million Americans suffer from substance abuse, so you’re definitely not alone. Taking that first step helps keep you from becoming a permanent part of that statistic. And there are plenty of people - from recovering addicts to their friends and family to mental health professionals - who can help you down that lonesome road. In addition, there are a number of things that you can do for yourself.


1. Get Healthy and Get Fit

Your addiction has probably harmed your body to the point that you are not sure how anything feels or tastes anymore. You are most likely malnourished and should immediately change your diet by focusing on eating healthy foods. Leafy green vegetables, like spinach, can improve your digestive health, boost energy levels naturally, balance blood pressure, and so much more. Supplement your veggies with proteins, such as fish, poultry, and eggs, which also boost your energy levels.


Not only should you change your diet, you should also begin to exercise. You can do anything from running to fast walking, or get started with weight training exercises, including lifting weights in a gym and simple bodyweight exercises you can do right at home. Exercise releases endorphins that give you the same effect that you used to get while high or drunk. The difference? This is done naturally and contributes to your overall health. Plus, it feels a lot better. Both healthy eating and exercise must be part of your daily life while in recovery.


2. Get Professional Help

Do you know what comorbidity is? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is two or more disorders occurring in the same person. There is a good chance that someone who has an addiction also has a corresponding physical or mental health disorder. For example, some alcoholics drink because they are depressed, and vice versa. Having regular appointments with a professional, whether it’s a licensed clinical social worker, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, not only helps with other issues you’re dealing with, but it could also uncover another disorder. There is absolutely no shame if something else is uncovered. It becomes part of your healing journey.


3. Take a Whole, Soulful View of Your Recovery

While you’re in recovery, you are doing more than overcoming addiction. You are healing your entire life: your body (with healthy eating and exercise), your mind (with some professional help), and your soul. Getting into healthy eating and exercise habits and getting help from a professional are important, to be sure, but there should also be some healing of the soul. While addicted, you harmed yourself - and most likely, others as well. You probably often felt numb, as if some part of you was missing. It is time for you to now feel joy in your life. Theologian and poet C.S. Lewis famously said, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”


While the road seems lonesome and the burden tiring, always look for joy as you go. This happiness, along with healthy living and help from those who care about you, will greatly help your recovery.


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