When given a chance, most people will opt to take the easy route – no matter what. Why make things more difficult than they have to be? This seems to be especially true for men and women who have struggled with substance abuse and dependence and who are now involved in a program of recovery. Cutting corners seems to be the name of the game. Honestly, it all does kind of seem like a lot. Going through detox, going through rehab, working through the 12 steps, living in a sober home, navigating an entirely new way of life… it does add up, for sure. But when it comes to addiction recovery, there really is no “easy way out.” You will have to put in the work, but there is a 100% chance that it will be worth it in the end if you do.
If you have been struggling with drug addiction for any length of time, you might be on the fence about going to rehab. This could be because you assume there’s got to be an easier way. Surely there is a way to overcome drug addiction without throwing yourself into the middle of a year-long process – maybe even moving to a different state in order to seek the professional treatment you need. Of course, no two experiences with drug addiction are exactly the same, and because of this no two recovery experiences will be identical. We have sat down and spoken with several men and women who have struggled with drug addiction in the past – men and women who are willing to share their experiences with treatment and whether or not they believe that rehab is always necessary.
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Michelle M., Age 32
CHD: Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your personal experience with drug addiction.
Michelle M.: So, I started using drugs at a pretty young age. I was the youngest of five siblings, and so I kind of had an early introduction to things like alcohol and marijuana. Like, my siblings would have friends over and they would all be smoking, and I would join in. One of my older sisters started using cocaine when I was maybe around 16. She tried to keep me away from it, but I used it with her and her friends eventually. I think I just liked it way too much, and I found out where I could get it without letting her know. So, I had a secret stash of cocaine by the time I was 16, and by the time I went off to college I was kind of just experimenting with everything. I didn’t have any limitations when it came to which drugs I was using. I was introduced to heroin when I was, I think around 20 years old, and that was kind of it for me. Things got really bad really fast.
CHD: How did you end up getting sober?
Michelle M.: For me, it was a life-or-death situation. I had overdosed at a friend’s house, and if they didn’t call the cops I would definitely not be alive right now. That was a wake-up call for me. Just seeing how devastated my parents were when I got out of the hospital and knowing that if I didn’t get help soon that would definitely be the way that I died.
CHD: Do you believe it’s possible to overcome drug addiction without rehab?
Michelle M.: I think if you have a serious drug addiction like me, and if you’re addicted to something like heroin, which constantly puts you in danger of overdosing, rehab is completely necessary. The point of rehab is to teach you the tools you need to stay sober once you’re done with treatment. If I didn’t have those tools in place now, I definitely don’t think that I would be here.
Alex S., Age 22
CHD: How old were you when you decided to get sober, and what led you to that decision?
Alex S.: I actually got sober when I was only 19. Towards the end of high school, I started spending time with a group of guys that were into psychedelics. I took a lot of mushrooms and LSD, and I started to smoke a lot more weed. My senior year of high school kind of went to s*** – my grades dropped, I didn’t have any desire to go to college and everything that I used to enjoy just faded away. I was on the basketball team for a long time and I just stopped caring about anything other than hanging out with my friends and getting high.
CHD: Do you believe that you would’ve been able to get sober without going to rehab?
Alex S.: I mean, a lot of people think that if you’re just smoking weed or taking drugs that aren’t addictive, like hallucinogens, then you can just stop on your own anytime you want. But honestly, weed was kind of addictive for me, and I think that if I would have stayed at home then I would have just kept using drugs with my friends. Rehab was good for me because I really needed the time away. When you’re young like I am, peer pressure is actually a real thing, and it can really mess with your progress.
CHD: What words of advice do you have for anyone who is still on the fence about seeking professional drug addiction treatment?
Alex S.: I would just say it’s better to get help sooner rather than later. If I waited, I would have just kept frying my brain. I honestly don’t know where I would be right now. But now I’m back on track again, I’m going to college and I’ve successfully been able to reclaim my life.
Lisa W., Age 67
CHD: Please tell us a little bit about your personal experience with drug addiction.
Lisa W.: Well, my experience with addiction had to do with prescription stimulants. My youngest daughter was prescribed Adderall for the treatment of ADHD. I was feeling really, really burnt out – I was going through a divorce, my ex-husband wasn’t living at home, and I was taking care of everything all on my own. I had a friend who was like, “Hey, you should try taking one of her pills, it’ll help you get the housework done.” So I did. The feeling that I got was really appealing to me, I was much more productive, I had a lot more energy and I felt like I could actually do what I was supposed to do. But then, you know, I started taking her pills more regularly, and soon I was taking one a day. I had been taking one a day for a couple of weeks when I decided to get help.
CHD: When and how did you get sober?
Lisa W.: I got sober 5 years ago in an outpatient treatment program. I know that residential treatment is usually the best option for people with drug abuse disorders, but I had only been using Adderall for a couple of weeks and I still hadn’t built a tolerance or anything like that. So outpatient rehab really worked for me.
CHD: How do you continue to stay sober?
Lisa W.: I’ve been engaged in a pretty intense program of recovery, one that includes individual therapy, going to a 12-step meeting every single day and sponsoring other women. I attribute my sobriety to a combination of things, definitely to my outpatient program but also to working through the steps with a sponsor of my own.
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