If your life is out of control, or if it is getting that way because of alcohol or drugs (whether legal or not), there is hope. This article is intended for you. I write today to someone who is addicted and needs help.
First, if you recognize that you need help and are ready to reach out for it, congratulations, you have taken the first step toward the threshold of “clean and sober.” There are several ways to get help, but none of them work until and unless you take that first step. I suggest to you some ways that have worked, but I suspect that there are as many different roads to get you there as there are individuals that are headed the direction of “clean and sober.” I encourage you today to keep your windshield bigger than your rearview mirror. You need both, but remember which one is bigger. Your future depends on it.
From the teetotaler who sees addiction as simply “one toke over the line” and to be avoided at all costs to the social drinker or user who feels like they can enjoy all the benefits without any of the risks, we all have a need to be in control of our lives. So many times alcoholics and addicts have said to me, “my life is spinning out of control.”
You don’t have to be “spinning out of control.”
I mentioned in another article my granddad that was addicted to whiskey. It was his “drug of choice.” It was readily accessible, convenient and had the desired effect (from his point of view). In his case confrontation from loved ones was not what it took. Going to church was not enough; he managed to keep it a secret from most of the church people. In his case, after more than ten years of self-medicating his grief he was able to establish a new normal with a lovely lady, not to replace his first wife, but to fill some of the void in his life and to give him a “firm accountability partner.” She helped him keep his life from spinning out of control.
I also mentioned a friend from the 1970’s that asked me to be a friend and to walk with him as he worked at staying “clean and sober.” I wish now that I had walked a bit closer to him, maybe his life could have been lengthened just a bit. He was part of an Alcoholics Anonymous group, and I think had an accountability partner (sponsor). Still the battle was fierce in his life. His wife got her fill of living with an alcoholic and left. He didn’t survive very long after that. Alcohol took his life indirectly as he drove home one night. Fortunately no one else was injured in the accident. His life spun out of control.
Alcoholics Anonymous has been in existence since 1935. Many (likely in the millions) have found the help that they need to get and stay clean and sober. The regular meetings and the accountability of the sponsor system seems to be effective for many who attend AA. In most of the towns in our area there is an AA group within reasonable driving distance, sometimes more than one group is accessible. Many meet in churches and when I read the 12 steps I could not help but notice the number of times that God is mentioned. If you are an atheist, they allow for you by using the term Higher Power as well. AA has taken a number of measures to remove any obstacles to the person who wants to get “clean and sober” and stay that way.
Psychology Today has on its web site a list of therapists a number of counselor/therapists who specialize in drug and alcohol recovery and rehab. I personally have some difficulty in wrapping my mind around a counselor who purposely and intentionally goes from one alcoholic/addict to another… it just seems depressing.
However, the good news is…they are out there.
At least three centers for Mental and Behavioral Health exist in the northwest Arkansas area. Each of them has a plan and a program to help the addict from detox to group therapy to individual counseling, both inpatient and outpatient.
If you have access to a computer, just google “addiction recovery” for your area and several will show up. I am including here some links to some of the web sites that I am familiar with. Just click and check them out. Or call me or one of our other chaplains. We can and will help you get “plugged in” to the help that you need. The first step has to be yours. Do you need help?
www.vantagepointnwa.com/addiction (Vantage Point Tel # 479 521 5731)
http://aoinc.org/all-services/decision-point-arkansas/ (Decision Point Tel. # 479 464 1060)
http://www.springwoodsbehavioral.com (Springwoods Tel # 479 973 6000)
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/ online resources from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
This simple test was on one of the addiction recovery web sites. I think it is worth including here.
In the past, have you ever:
- (for men) had 5 or more drinks in a day?
- (for women or anyone over age 65) had 4 or more drinks in a day?
- used recreational or prescription drugs to get high?
Unless you answered “never” to all of the above questions, talk to your doctor, a nurse, or a counselor or chaplain about the details. They can help you decide what to do next. They can also help you find more information and resources.