When is the right time to get clean and sober??
by Jessica Candelaria Lipsey
When is the right time to get clean and sober? Now! Often times when someone starts contemplating stopping or going into treatment they will come up with a list of various reasons why they can’t. We frequently hear things like, “I don’t have time;” “I could loose my job;” “I won’t spend as much time with my children;”etc… The list of reasons go on and on. These are things we hear all too often as loved ones when we are watching someone die right in front of us. It may be frustrating from an outsider’s perspective but what we must recognize is that this individual truly does not know any other way to live. One way to have compassion for someone struggling making that step into recovery is to understand that this life is the ONLY normal one to them.
When someone is in active addiction almost everything they do is managed around the drinking lifestyle. They go to places where they can drink, they hang out with people who drink, or they come home to drink – the drinking/using routine becomes very ritualistic. Eventually it gets to the point where if one tries to stop they begin obsessing about getting the next drink and then the compulsion takes over where it’s unbearable so they must drink again. Not until intervention is implemented can this cycle be stopped.
Progression of Addiction
The real problem of waiting to stop is the fact that addiction is a progressive disease. It destroys the body physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally overtime. E. Morton Jellinek is one of the fathers of the science of alcoholism, and he created the “Jellenek Curve.” This describes the phases beginning to end of what alcoholism looks like and includes the following: occasional relief drinking, feelings of guilt, increase in tolerance, decreased inability to stop when others do, memory blackouts, family and friends avoided, unreasonable resentments, and early morning drinks. Now not everyone experiences all these symptoms but many of these will be familiar to someone with a problem. Drinkers may hear this and automatically think, well isn’t that how everyone drinks. Nope. Heavy drinkers tend to surround themselves with others who drink similarly or codependents that enable; otherwise, it would be too uncomfortable to drink excessively. It’s hard for alcoholics to believe there are people out there that have a few and stop.
Fatality of the Disease
If one continues to experience the consequences of drinking and is not able to stop and seek help, then the body starts to shut down. With long term use every organ in the body starts to be impacted greatly. With alcohol it causes brain damage, specifically damaging the cortex (responsible for our higher brain functions including problem solving and decision making, the hippocampus (for memory and learning), and the cerebellum (for movement coordination). With marijuana it impairs short-term memory and the ability to focus attention, it increases heart rate and harms the lungs, and increases risk of psychosis (especially with synthetic marijuana). With opiates/heroin it slows respiration depriving the body and brain of oxygen to the point where breathing stops. All drugs significantly impact the brain on a biological level – hence the fact that addiction is a major health issue needing medical attention, mental health help, and 12 step support. Ultimately, whether the drugs kill someone slowly or suddenly, they are deadly, further adding to the point that there is no time is better than the present to get help.
For the person who is still contemplating whether right now is the best time, think of it this way. If you had a tumor growing inside of your brain would you do everything possible and whatever it took to get it removed? Would you do all the treatment that’s involved? Would you take time off work and away from family to treat it? The disease of addiction is no different.
If you would like to explore working with me please call (407) 622- 1770, or email me at Info@LifeCounselingSolutions.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Jessica’s strives to help empower people to make decisions that bring them a sense of joy and accomplishment in life. As a person in long-term recovery, she is passionate about helping people who are struggling with alcohol and other drug problems. One of her specialties is working with people who have been through addiction and trauma or abuse. She uses special techniques and evidence-based practices to reduce symptoms that exacerbate addiction and prevent relapse. Jessica provides substance abuse evaluations and psychosocial assessments for various attorneys, psychiatrists, physicians, and probation officers. Additionally, she specializes in the treatment of post-partum depression and anxiety disorders. As a mother herself, Jessica has the ability to truly empathize with parents and give unconditional support through life transitions. See Jessica’s full bio.