In recent years the opioid epidemic has grown so much that it’s overshadowed the more lethal scourge of alcoholism, which claims its victims through a wider range of methods.
Of all the substances that people abuse, only one fits into ALL the following criteria: socially acceptable, over-the-counter accessible, the cost is not prohibitive, legal for adults to purchase in all 50 states, and often viewed as harmless or a normal rite of passage into adulthood. This magic elixir is alcohol.
While the lead headline from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) touted “Marijuana use at historic highs among college-age adults,” the institute could have also released some positive headlines.
For those with long-term alcohol use, quitting cold turkey can lead to severe physical symptoms or even death as the body adjusts to the absence of the depressive substance. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include: increased heart rate, sweating, nausea, headache, anxiety, tremors, high-blood pressure, insomnia, nightmares, confusion and irritability.
Many of those who have experienced less difficulty with recovery talk about an “aha” moment where they realized at a very deep level that they wanted to change their lifestyle and regain their health. They often echo a well-known quote, saying, “they got sick and tired of being sick and tired.” In other words, they were ready for recovery and willing to make the changes necessary to achieve their sobriety.
People with addiction issues come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Some individuals’ issues are easily recognizable and they can only thinly disguise their addiction. Other people hide their addictions very well, even to themselves – until they can’t anymore.
According to the Surgeon General’s Report published in 2016 “20.8 million people aged 12 or older in the United States had a substance use disorder. That number is similar to the number of people who suffer from diabetes and more than 1.5 times the annual prevalence of all cancers combined (14 million).”
Recovering from addiction isn’t easy, but it is possible, and it does happen – even after multiple relapses; individuals can and do find and maintain sobriety. To do so they need a facility that understands relapse and can help both the individual and the family understand relapse too.
I attended Gulf Breeze Recovery in 2016 after over a decade of failed attempts to get clean at 12-step drug treatment centers. I was an IV drug user, and I thought that if anyone truly understood how powerful my cravings were, then surely they would see why it was impossible for me to stay sober. That’s why one of the most valuable insights I gained during my time in Gulf Breeze was my relationship to cravings.
It was after one of those parties, in fact, where Ben hit what he calls his rock bottom. He apparently “made an ass of himself”, although he doesn’t remember it. After the party, he went home and fell down the stairs. He was pretty beat up, bloody, sore, bruised and lucky to have survived the fall.