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How do I completely overcome my addiction and not just avoid one substance?

answered 08:41 AM EST, Mon February 06, 2012
I am a 32 year old addicted person. I have a problem with getting addicted to things. I was addicted to alcohol in my early twenties and I managed to get past that with some alcohol counseling arranged by my parents. I think I really managed to overcome alcohol though because I was trying to quit just as I was going overseas for the first time as a Peace Corps volunteer to Tanzania. The energy I had spent before on going out and getting loaded I put into teaching and community efforts and I really didn’t even have much time or inclination to go out and get drunk anymore. I was the best and most committed and hardest working volunteer they had. After Africa I got really into permaculture and organic farming and spent a couple of years helping to build an alternative community in Thailand. After that I spent a lot of time and energy on yoga and eventually I started smoking pot again on a very recreational basis after not having used any mind alerting drugs for years about a year ago. Now I am a daily heavy user and I know I need to stop.

I think that I do not have a drug problem or an alcohol problem, I have an addicted problem. I am trying to fill my life up with stuff from the outside and no matter how much yoga or volunteering or pot or booze I pour into that hole inside of me I can never get sated and I can never find any peace.

I am considering an outpatient drug treatment program to help me with my marijuana addiction but I just know that unless I make some more fundamental changes I will just throw my energies into the next thing that comes along and I will never be able to just be Ok within myself, without having to resort to extremes of behavior.

What do I have to do so that I don’t need to look to things outside myself for what I need inside myself?

Art Matthews Says...

As I've mentioned in my profile, I'm not an addiction therapist; however, your case appears to illustrate an old saying that there are as many reasons people turn to substances as there are people who abuse drugs and alcohol. First and foremost, you need to treat the physiological as well as the psychological aspects of addiction. It sounds as though you have never dealt with the underlying causes of your addiction although you did manage to avoid one substance and then latch on to another. I suggest that you look at treatment programs that are holistic in nature and attend to your body, mind and spirit. Many programs have been pared down to just address education on the reasons why you need to treat your substance addiction and get you over the physical cravings.

If you are ready to commit to the work it will require, I suggest finding a holistic program and a therapist who is dually licensed in addiction and professional counseling or psychotherapy. As you have now realized, if you don't address your demons and "stinkin' thinkin'" that motivate you to escape and seek out chemical relief, you may simply jump from one addiction to another. The best indicator that this time things will be different is the awareness and motivation I hear in your question. Stick with it, even if it means making sacrifices. Tell someone important to you that you love and trust that you are going to work on the deeper issues. Telling others reinforces our commitment and the likelihood we will follow through.

Best of luck to you. Stay strong and fight for the life you deserve. No one can do the fighting for you.

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Page last updated Feb 06, 2012

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