If you have suffered from a substance abuse disorder firsthand, you are probably more than familiar with the crushing feelings of isolation and hopelessness that go hand-in-hand with a complete lack of control. When I was actively drinking myself to death, I would wake up in the morning (or afternoon, or evening) wondering what kind of hole I had dug myself into the night before. I had completely lost control of my life and my actions, and not knowing what I had done, where I had been or who I had hurt was one of the worst feelings in the world. Most days I woke up wishing that I hadn’t. My friends and family members had expressed concern on multiple occasions, but rather than taking what they said into account I simply pushed them away. Isolating was easier than facing the truth. It was difficult and desolate and horrible, but it still felt easier than being honest with myself. Towards the end of my personal alcohol abuse disorder I had all but lost the will to live. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had actually become suicidal. This didn’t seem like a possibility seeing as I had never previously struggled with depression or suicidal ideation – but getting behind the wheel of a car during a black-out and driving 80mph on the Los Angeles freeway cannot be considered anything other than a death wish, really.

Finding the will to live was one thing. Finding the will to recover was another battle entirely. 

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, individuals who reported that they had attempted suicide at least once during their lives were exceedingly more likely to suffer from depression and substance abuse. (1) In a study of all alcohol-related deaths (other than those caused by traffic accidents), roughly 20 percent were attributed to suicide. Substance abuse remains one of the predominant risk factors when it comes to suicide attempts. A study written by Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H. and published by Psychology Today titled, “Suicide: One of Addiction’s Hidden Risks,” explains the clear correlation between substance abuse and suicide. (2) The article notes that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death throughout the United States, and that while depression is largely responsible for high numbers of suicide throughout the country, substance abuse is also a significant factor. Not only does substance abuse and dependence increase the likelihood that an individual takes his or her own life, but many individuals who are suffering from a substance abuse disorder utilize their drug of choice as a means of committing suicide – this is known as intentional overdose. Roughly 75 percent of suicides are attributed to poisoning. Additionally, depression and substance abuse tend to go hand-in-hand. The rates of depression are four times higher among addicts and alcoholics than among members of the general population. Clearly, suicide and addiction go hand-in-hand; and it is really no surprise, considering the psychological and emotional implications of substance abuse. So how does one push through the hopelessness, isolation and emotional devastation and find the will to live – and to recover?

Addiction – A Disease of Hopelessness

Hopelessness is defined as, “a feeling or state of despair; lack of hope.” When you start to feel as if there is no hope for your future, your happiness or your quality of life, it only makes sense that you completely lose faith in the possibility of recovery, or regaining any of the things you have lost at the hands of your addiction. Individuals who struggle with substance abuse for any extended period of time typically retreat further and further into a place of complete loneliness, anguish and despondency. They convince themselves that all has already been lost; that they will never be loved because they are not worthy of love, that they will not recover because they are not worthy of recovery. Hopelessness is a vicious cycle, one that can only be remedied by a sudden and significant change. Of course, for those who have retreated to a place of hopelessness, the seemingly endless cycle of despair seems absolutely unbreakable. It is important to note that when things get this bad, the cycle is actually unbreakable without professional medical intervention. It is impossible for individuals who are suffering from severe substance abuse to break free from hopelessness on their own. They will not simply wake up one day and think to themselves, “Wow, it’s gorgeous out! What a great day to put down the crack pipe and finally begin living the life I deserve!” No – for the addict or the alcoholic, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Not until professional addiction treatment is sought. If you are currently enslaved in this vicious cycle of hopelessness and despair, you might be wondering how to get to a place of willingness. How do you know you’re finally ready to seek help? How can you step away from the intense self-pity and misery for long enough to feel even the slightest glimmer of hope – just enough hope to push you in the right direction?

Finding the Will to Live

Willingness is an interesting thing. Some individuals who have been suffering from severe substance abuse or dependence might actually experience a fleeting window of willingness, during which they somehow find the motivation to reach out and ask for the help they so desperately need. It is important that this window is taken advantage of – if you ever think to yourself, “I can’t live like this anymore,” remember that recovery is entirely possible no matter how bad things have gotten. Remember that there are millions of men and women who were once exactly where you are now – alone and lost and devastated. Remember that these men and women are now actively living lives beyond their wildest dreams, simply because they took advantage of the tiny bit of willingness they were allotted exactly when they were allotted it. However, this is not to say that you should wait around until you feel “ready” to recover. All you really need to do is pick up the phone and ask for help. It does seem easier to stay stuck. In the moment it will always feel easier to stay stuck in the vicious cycle of substance abuse and hopelessness. But trust me when I say that it isn’t – staying stuck is so, so much more difficult than taking the initial step. As soon as you take the first step, make the first call and admit yourself into a medical detox facility, the remainder of the recovery journey is more simple, rewarding and fulfilling than you can possibly even imagine. If you have been waiting around for some cosmic sign – this is it. You deserve recovery, and you are capable of recovering.

No matter what your current circumstances, you are capable of recovering. 

Chapel Hill Detox – The First Step on the Path to Freedom

Medically monitored detox is a necessary first step on every individualized journey of addiction recovery. Chapel Hill Detox provides men and women of all ages and walks of life with a comprehensive and structured program of clinical care, geared towards a safe and pain-free withdrawal process as well as a continuation of recovery. Not only are we committed to physically stabilizing our clients in a medical environment, but we are committed to helping them along in their personal journeys of recovery, taking the next appropriate step once the detox process is complete. For more information on our personalized program, please feel free to reach out today. We understand just how devastating and hopeless active addiction can seem. In fact, many of our staff members have lived through active addiction themselves and come out the other side, allowing them a unique, compassionate perspective. We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping to restore your sense of faith in yourself and in the world around you.

  1. https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/does-alcohol-increase-risk-of-suicide/index.html
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-healing/201402/suicide-one-addiction-s-hidden-risks
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