Many people with an addiction seem to fall into a relentless battle where they stop because they know they have to stop. But then they cannot stay stopped.
In fact this is so well known in recovery communities there’s the phrase: stopping is easy; it’s staying stopped that’s the difficult part.
So someone may do this repeatedly for years. They stop and then after a certain period – that could even be of several months or more – they find that almost as if against their own will they have started again.
It’s disheartening, frustrating and causes great anguish, despair and sometimes anger. Not only for the person trying to quit, but also for all those around them.
Some people eventually just give up on giving up. But there is always a way to stay stopped.
Thankfully, there are proven methods that can help anyone to stay stopped from any addiction.
Keep it in the day
One of the first phrases that people in recovery groups and/or therapy may well hear is “keep it in the day”. It’s also said that quitting an addiction should be taken “one day at a time”.
This breaks it down and makes it seem much less daunting. You don’t have to think about giving up forever – just for this one day.
But then repeat this, one day at a time (often abbreviated to “odaat”). There are people with, for instance, 40 years sobriety from alcohol addiction – who still take it just one day at time.
Sometimes if a day seems too long, break that down. So, make it for one hour or even one minute at a time: that is, “just for the next hour/minute I won’t drink or use or do my addictive behavior…” Then keep repeating this.
Avoid tempting places and behaviors
There’s a famous soccer player in England called Paul Merson with a well documented struggle with drink who said: “If you keep walking past the barbers, eventually you’ll get a haircut.”
Although humorous, it makes a serious point. Many people quit such as an alcohol addiction, but still go to bars…
The word “temptation” derives from a Latin word temptare meaning “handle, test, try”. So putting yourself in the place or places where you used “do” the addiction means you are giving yourself a test.
One day you might not pass the test. Then you are back under the power of the addiction.
It’s the same if your addiction was, say, shopping. If you go to the shops or start browsing online, there could be problems ahead once again.
Stick with the winners!
This is similar to avoiding places – but is directed towards people. Those people we often drank with or got drugs from or gambled with – and so on.
If you really want to stay stopped from an addiction, certainly in the beginning and for some time at the start it’s best to avoid these people. Just as is the case for most people with avoiding certain places, this is not likely to be forever.
But just until you know in your heart that you can handle the test of being in these places and among these people again. Although when many people in recovery reach this point they realize they don’t actually want to go to those places again or be with those people.
There’s a phrase frequently heard in addiction recovery circles that is “stick with the winners”. It may sound harsh, but really is just to get you considering who you’re keeping company with at any given time.
We also need to look out for people who cause us to have strong emotions or who trigger us. This could include family, friends or colleagues.
It would be best to avoid these people in most instances. But if that’s impossible, such as with some family members, at least be aware that you need to keep alert.
Also perhaps do some mental and emotional preparation before you see them – such as meditate or read something that inspires you to stay stopped from your addiction. As well, try your best to limit the time you spend with anyone like this.
Watch out for social media
Many people who are addicted to something will find they get triggered when they have negative emotions. They seek to change the way they feel – and turn to something they have found achieves that, albeit in a short-lived way that’s always detrimental in the long-term.
Social media, as well as being something to which many people get addicted, can also be a trigger. People look on Facebook, Twitter or suchlike and they feel angry due to some political opinion.
Or they feel extremely envious of someone’s house, car, latest holiday or that they have a loving partner (or so it seems). Then there’s that other person posting and boasting about their work achievements – and that leaves a feeling of being less than because self-esteem is already low.
Similarly, be aware that as well as social media, things such as the news, soap operas, song lyrics, movies and documentaries can all change the way we feel for the worse. As well, for some people watching sports can do this.
It’s not to say you necessarily need to stop these pastimes outright or forever. But if you know they lead to an addiction or even craving, perhaps they are best limited or totally avoided.
Develop what is known in recovery communities as “an attitude of gratitude”. It will help you focus on positives.
It’s a way of making sure negative feelings don’t get overwhelming. Gratitude lists – when you write down things you’re grateful for – are simple and wonderfully effective.
It’s important to write these regularly, such as just before you got to bed and then read them first thing in the morning. But of course they can be written any time to help chase away negative feelings.
Sometimes you may have to force yourself to write one, and this is especially beneficial when you really don’t feel like it. But they always work because such as anxiety and depression cannot exist while you are focusing on gratitude.
It is full of positive ways to live, one day at a time. This is for everyone, not just people who are addicted to something.
Live well – and say sorry
Following on from the Just For Today card is this: to live the mantra – how can I help others? See what you can give to the world.
Many people who are addicted take from the world, including such as from their work, other people, family and friends. This is not because they are bad people, but because they feel empty and consumed with pain – and are simply desperate to fill up their emptiness and block the pain.
But the best way to do this is quite the opposite of taking. Whenever we give, we gain.
So help others and always see what you can give to the stream of life. Be kind and generous.
This includes saying sorry as promptly as you can when you realize you’ve said or done something that might have caused harm. Never say “Sorry, but…” – just sincerely saying “Sorry” is best.
Many people who go to AA Meetings say AA could also stand for Altered Attitudes. This is because if you are stopping an addiction you need to learn to live a new way, where you change your responses and reactions to certain things that are a part of life.
It is necessary to work on self-esteem, self-love and self-confidence. This is an inside job.
Then when you feel stronger from the inside, outside things won’t have such a negative impact. Acceptance will come easier – and people feel calmer and more assured about life.
Meditation has for centuries benefitted people around the world. There’s no one way to do it, but many people who are experts in it speak about seeking calm and stillness, of being an observer of the moment without any judgement.
It’s been proven to be especially beneficial as a way to start the day. If we begin the day calmly like this we will have more energy for dealing with anything that the day ahead might bring to us.
This is for people who once felt hopeless. There are many reasons why they are thought to be so beneficial – one of those being that a group of people together is stronger than a person alone.
Another reason why Twelve Steps group meetings are so beneficial to so many addicts is that they are often what leads to someone starting the Twelve Steps recovery program.
You don’t have to do the Twelve Steps if you attend any of these meetings, but it is one of the main reasons for them. Many people in Twelve Steps recovery compare the meetings to the physician’s waiting room and the Twelve Steps are the medication you’re given to get and stay well.
Therapy is of course a hugely effective and proven way of quitting an addiction and staying stopped. A good therapist will offer methods to live well day by day and also look back at your life, such as at family history or help you deal with a trauma.
Here at Tikvah Lake Recovery we specialize in offering daily one-on-one therapy. In our experience this is by far the best sort of treatment.
We can also offer you an introduction to the Twelve Steps. We listen carefully to all of our guests and then personalize the treatment so that it works as swiftly as possible and gives the strongest and most enduring recovery possible.
Withdrawal is a term that refers to the physical and mental effects individuals experience when they reduce the intake of a substance such as alcohol or drugs or stop using it altogether.
The signs and symptoms of withdrawal typically vary depending on the substance that has been discontinued. The intensity and duration of the symptoms can also vary widely, depending not only on the type of drug you are taking but also on your genetics.
In many cases, withdrawal comes with a wealth of unpleasant symptoms that can also become dangerous in some situations. Withdrawal symptoms may develop whether a person quits a substance suddenly or reduces the amount they are using gradually. The body is attempting to reach a state of homeostasis as it dispels the substance, resulting in large fluctuations in brain chemicals that lead to significant physical and mental health repercussions.
What are the main symptoms of withdrawal?
Drug withdrawal typically includes a combination of mental, physical, and emotional symptoms, but some of the most common of them including the following:
Hot and cold flashes
Muscle cramps/body aches
Nervousness or anxiety
In some cases, more severe symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, or delirium may also occur. There are multiple factors that determine the type and severity of the symptoms someone experiences in withdrawal, ranging from the type of how long does drug they were taking to the dosage and the amount of time they were taking it.
How long does withdrawal last?
The duration of the withdrawal is influenced by the type of substance someone used and the level of dependence they had on the substance. It may take days, weeks, or months in some cases for all the withdrawal symptoms to disappear, depending on individual circumstances.
Below you’ll find a general overview of the expected withdrawal timelines for some common substances.
Alcohol — The first signs of alcohol withdrawal typically appear within several hours after consuming the last drink, and they generally peak in the next 24 to 48 hours. There is a risk of seizure for 12 to 48 hours after the last drink. Other risks such as delirium tremens may occur for as long as 72 hours after the last drink.
Short-acting opioids (some prescription painkillers and heroin) — Withdrawal symptoms start between 8 to 24 hours after the last years and may last for up to 10 days.
Long-acting opioids (methadone) — It typically takes 2 to 4 days for withdrawal symptoms to begin, and they may last for up to 10 days.
Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, etc.) — withdrawal starts within one to four days and peaks in the first two weeks.
Marijuana — most users experience mild withdrawal symptoms when quitting marijuana, and they typically last for a couple of days. However, the withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant enough to make them go back to using.
Nicotine — nicotine withdrawal symptoms are not as debilitating as those resulting from withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Still, they may last for weeks or even months, which is what makes it very difficult for many people to give up cigarettes.
The duration and severity of withdrawing from substance dependence vary according to many factors, including the amount of substance someone used and the period of time for which they used it.
Detoxing from a substance may result in various health risks and symptoms that evolve over different time frames when compared to other types of substances. With some substances, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable but not dangerous, whereas the symptoms may be severe and even potentially life-threatening with others.
What causes withdrawal symptoms?
When someone takes a substance for a prolonged period of time, the body begins to build a tolerance and dependence on it. These two issues are not the same, with tolerance meaning that it typically takes larger quantities to achieve the same effects. Dependency refers to the fact that the body requires continuous amounts of the substance to avoid experience withdrawal effects.
When someone decreases the intake of the substance or stops it altogether, the body is thrown off balance, which results in withdrawal symptoms. These are typically the opposite of the effects of substance had on the body. For example, someone who stops consuming alcohol, which is a depressant, may experience various symptoms of overstimulation, such as restlessness or anxiety.
What are the treatment options for withdrawal?
Treatment from substance withdrawal typically includes supporting medications to prevent possible complications and ease symptoms during the period of withdrawal.
You may need medical supervision for safe withdrawal, which is why it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor before going cold turkey or reducing the amount of substance you’re using gradually.
This is not required for all substances — people can stop using caffeine or nicotine abruptly without needing medical help. In many cases, this is simply a matter of coping with any unpleasant symptoms until they pass.
However, quitting substances such as alcohol or heroin abruptly can be potentially dangerous, which is why it’s important to consult with a medical professional and go on a detox plan. With these substances, medical assisted withdrawal can help alleviate symptoms and ensure that you are safe during the withdrawal process.
What are some common medications prescribed for withdrawal?
Your doctor will come out with the detox plan that includes medications that help alleviate symptoms, and they are different depending on the type of substance you were using.
Medication makes it easier for recovering addicts to remain sober. Most people who try to give up alcohol or drugs on their own relapse mainly because they can’t cope with the withdrawal systems without help.
During the detox period, which happens in the initial stages of recovery, the purpose is to eliminate drugs from the body. Different medications are used to treat withdrawal symptoms during this time, with some of the drugs commonly prescribed in detox including:
Benzodiazepines — benzos reduce irritability and anxiety, which are common symptoms of withdrawal from many drugs, including heroin and cocaine. These drugs are also used for alcohol withdrawal because they have a sedative effect. Many doctors are often cautious about prescribing benzodiazepines because even though they are efficient at easing withdrawal symptoms, they can also be addictive.
Clonidine — a drug often used to treat opiate and alcohol withdrawals, clonidine reduces cramps and muscle aches and also helps with anxiety. It’s also a medication prescribed for stopping seizures and tremors.
Antidepressants — many people rely on drugs to experience happiness, which is why many of those in detox experience depression in the absence of said drugs. Antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft can help ease the feeling of depression until the brain can produce happiness-inducing chemicals on its own.
How to cope with withdrawal symptoms?
Seeking medical support is the first step to go through withdrawal safely, but there are also some other things that you can do on your own to make yourself feel better as you go through the process.
Pay attention to your diet — make sure you eat nutritious meals every day and avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat because they may make you feel worse.
Exercise every day — it’s essential to try to get at least some physical activity every day, even if it’s just a short walk, because it can help you boost your mood.
Stay hydrated — don’t forget to drink plenty of water as you’re going through withdrawal because these could lessen symptoms such as vomiting and nausea.
Get eight hours of sleep every night — for most patients, withdrawal may result in sleeping difficulties, but it’s still important to try and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. It always helps to establish a regular sleep schedule and keep to it.
Use over-the-counter medications — if you experience physical symptoms such as an upset stomach, headache, or diarrhea, you can alleviate them with over-the-counter medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on the recommended dosage.
Engage in relaxing activities — yoga or meditation are relaxing activities that can also help you cope with withdrawal symptoms. Try to get at least a session every day to help you get through the process.
If you have decided to quit alcohol, smoking weed, or other substances such as opioids, chances are you’ll experience at least some withdrawal symptoms. It’s essential to understand that you don’t have to do it on your own. To go through withdrawal safely, seek help from your doctor or another healthcare provider to help you deal with the mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Director of the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) Dr George Koob was reported in the USA Today newspaper as saying that previous research had already revealed people are much more likely to drink more “during times of uncertainty and duress”.
But this always comes with a warning from experts such as Dr Koob. “Any increases in alcohol use during the pandemic could be a cause for concern. This is particularly if the increases stem from an attempt to cope with negative emotions associated with the crisis.”
Whatever the reason or justification, drinking too much and/or too often has definite proven long-term and short-term negative health consequences. This includes not only physical health but emotional and mental wellbeing too.
Here are six major benefits of giving up alcohol.
1. Better sleep
During sleep the body is busy repairing and restoring.
When alcohol is in the system the body is spending more time trying to rid itself of toxins. Stopping drinking gives the body a chance to do its job properly when asleep.
Many people think that alcohol actually makes them sleep better. It can certainly seem that way.
But it is in fact the opposite: a major disturbance to the body’s natural restorative process. This frequently means a feeling of tiredness and being unable to think clearly the day after drinking.
Regular proper sleep means our immune system is stronger. So we’re less likely to catch such as a virus – and if we do we can respond and recover better.
It also means we are less likely to have mishaps and accidents. Life in general will seem more in order – with, for instance, much more likelihood of eating healthy meals at regular times.
Alcohol is high in calories as well. For instance, a large glass of wine is nearly equivalent in calories to a donut.
Our body’s ability to burn fat is hindered by alcohol consumption. So quit drinking and the weight is more likely to fall off.
Additionally, too much alcohol negatively impacts on every organ in the body – including the heart, brain, pancreas and liver. Over time, it increases the risk of many life-threatening illnesses.
Alcohol also has a detrimental effect on the immune system. People who drink too much and too often will be more prone to illnesses and take longer to recover when they get ill.
3. More zest & productivity
Most people who drink too much will waste hours that add up to days and weeks every year. By quitting drinking you’ll be giving yourself more time to be productive and see the people you love as well as doing hobbies you enjoy.
Clarity of thought and better physical coordination will add an overall positive impact. All of this is a boost to emotional wellbeing too.
4. Better bank balance
Most people who quit drinking find they have more money. This is from the obvious fact that their money isn’t being spent on alcohol and any associated costs such as taxis home.
But it’s also from the fact that there will be less sick days and those other days when it’s just a struggle to get through the day. Productivity and decision-making is also improved.
Consequently, you’ll get much more done. That’s clearly a great benefit to your work life and earning potential.
5. More hours every day
Not only will there be less sick days and days of muddling through, there will be no mornings wasted in bed. There is also much more time compared to when there used to be those hours spent drinking.
This is an often overlooked major benefit of quitting drinking. But it’s one of the first things that people realize, even in their first week of not drinking.
6. Improved general wellbeing
Alcohol is a mood-altering substance. When people stop drinking they often notice their moods become less erratic, meaning they are calmer and more steady in life.
Many people notice that their emotional health is vastly improved. For example, this means they will be able to have much better healthy boundaries.
So the positive results for someone quitting alcohol can be excellent. This also benefits all the people who are close to them too.
Our expert team here at Tikvah Lake Recovery has many decades of experience in treating people with all types of problems. We carefully listen before offering treatments that are proven to work.
Every treatment we offer is completely personalized, so that it works the best for each of our guests. That is not only to gain the swiftest results – but also to ensure recovery is long-lasting and continues when you leave us.
Get in touch with us right now to speak in confidence. Discover how we can help you or someone you love.
In New York City during the 1930s, a stockbroker called Bill Wilson was admitted to the Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcohol Addictions on four occasions for alcoholism. At the time, the vast majority of medical professionals could not really understand alcohol addiction.
Alcoholics were generally seen as hopeless cases. The doctors looked after these patients as best they could, but a vast number of them were expected to drink until they developed a “wet brain” or they died.
William Duncan Silkworth was a physician who specialized in alcoholism treatment at the hospital that Bill Wilson was in. Dr Silkworth introduced Wilson to the theory that alcohol addiction was a disease.
Certainly today many addiction experts talk of addiction as being a “dis-ease”, a symptom of when someone is not at ease inside themselves, frequently due to trauma. But back then in the 1930s Dr Silkworth’s theory was pioneering.
Dr Silkworth treated more than 40,000 alcoholics in his career and was regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in the field. He believed that alcoholism was the manifestation of a physical allergy combined with an obsession of the mind.
Bill Wilson found hope in Dr Silkworth’s theory that alcoholism was a medical condition – an illness. So much in fact that he was able to quit drinking and went on to become a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
The Doctor’s Opinion
In 1939 when the first book of AA was published, nicknamed “The Big Book”, Wilson had asked that Dr Silkworth write something for the opening pages to explain his theory of alcoholism.
It came in a chapter entitled “The Doctor’s Opinion”. Among other words, Dr Silkworth wrote the following about alcoholics:
“All these, and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.”
It was an important factor in the growth of AA. Today the Twelve Steps recovery program as developed by AA is used to treat all manner of addictions – from drugs, work and food to gambling, sex and nicotine.
Not a bad habit – but a disease
Even before Dr Silkworth there had been some people moving the public’s thinking towards the fact that alcohol addiction was a disease. American physician Benjamin Rush (1745–1813) stated that “habitual drunkenness should be regarded not as a bad habit but as a disease”.
Then in 1849 Swedish physician Magnus Huss is believed to have first used the term “alcoholism” in his book “Alcoholismus Chronicus”. He describes the physical traits of addictive drinkers and said that they had a disease.
Disease theory of addiction
The theory that alcoholism was a disease became more acceptable as an opinion in society. However, it took another 100 years until it was officially stated.
This came in 1956 when the American Medical Association (AMA) stated that alcoholism was an “illness”.
Three decades later in 1987 the AMA issued a statement that read: “The AMA endorses the proposition that drug dependencies, including alcoholism, are diseases and that their treatment is a legitimate part of medical practice.”
Disorder of the brain
Then in 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) published an important report called “Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence”.
It stated: “Dependence has not previously been recognized as a disorder of the brain, in the same way that psychiatric and mental illnesses were not previously viewed as being a result of a disorder of the brain.
“However, with recent advances in neuroscience, it is clear that dependence is as much a disorder of the brain as any other neurological or psychiatric illness.”
More recent research has discovered dopamine pathways that are boosted by not only alcohol and drugs but also by some behavioral addictions including gambling, shopping and sex. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is associated with making us feel happy.
As dopamine is released, it causes feelings of pleasure and reward. This motivates people to repeat the particular behavior that caused it.
Dealing with pain
Some addiction experts think that someone has to have the propensity to get addicted to something, that it is in their physical make-up. It is then that certain conditions can cause them to become addicted to such as drugs or alcohol.
Addiction expert Dr Gabor Maté has found in his experience that addiction is always an “attempt to solve the problem of human pain. Hence my mantra: ‘The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.’
“The source of pain is always and invariably to be found in a person’s lived experience, beginning with childhood. Childhood trauma is the template for addiction – any addiction.
“All addictions are attempts to escape the deep pain of the hurt child. These are attempts that are temporarily soothing but ultimately futile.”
Research and debate is still developing about the illness of addiction. But one aspect is very clear – if left untreated, as with most chronic illnesses, it will get progressively worse.
The passage of time won’t stop it. But treatment will.