If you’re thinking that you’re ready to quit drinking—or if you’re reading this because someone you care about is going to try to quit—then the message here is that any journey starts with the first step. The journey toward recovery doesn’t begin in an alcohol rehabilitation center. It begins when you realize it’s time for a change and you read the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous and you recognize that it’s meaningful for you:
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
If you feel angry when you read those words, it’s understandable. Nobody likes to consider the idea that as he has no control over some aspect of his life. Thinking that your life has become unmanageable is—well, unthinkable.
There’s always some final precipitating event, some last straw that brings someone to the realization that he needs help to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs. Whether you found this post on your own or whether someone led you to it, you’ve probably experienced being powerless in one or more of the following ways:
- The alcohol or chemicals you’ve been using have placed your life—or the lives of others—in danger. Maybe you’ve driven your car while intoxicated. Have you thought about wrecking the car and killing yourself or some innocent bystander?
Maybe you’ve put your health at risk. Some alcoholics experience high blood pressure the day after they’ve been drinking. Alcohol can cause stomach problems such as severe acid reflux. Snorting chemicals like cocaine or meth also burn the stomach. People develop fatty liver or cirrhosis. Even dental issues can stem from drug or alcohol abuse. If you’ve passed out from your substance abuse, then your body has shut down as a safety measure—and you’re lucky to be alive. And that’s just for starters. Maybe you’ve gotten into a physical fight. drugs you think you’re buying.
- You’ve lost your self-respect. Even if the people you love don’t know the worst things you’ve done, you see it in your eyes when you look in a mirror.
- You’ve caused your family to disrespect you. Okay, now you’re looking beyond the mirror and seeing the way the people you love look at you. What are some of the things that you’ve done to make your loved ones lose respect for you? Maybe your wife or mother hides her purse when you’re around. Maybe your husband can’t believe you if you say you’ve paid the bills, because he knows you’ve taken the money and used it to buy your next high. You lie, you steal, and you’re disrespectful.
- You’ve caused harm to others. If you’ve injured someone as a result of your drinking or drug abuse, that’s the worst-case scenario. There are lesser injuries, too, and they still harm the people in your life: Is your job in danger? Without a job, you’ll have no health insurance, and you’ll fall behind on your mortgage and utility payments. You owe your family clothing, food, and shelter, and your substance abuse may be putting those basic necessities at risk.
Once you take that tentative first step toward recovery, those are four of the areas that you’ll be asked to face initially. How is your health? Where do you stand legally? Do you still have loved ones around you? A long-term residential drug or alcohol rehabilitation center will place you away from everything else in your life—the people and things you’ve been harming—so that you can focus on moving toward recovery. Recognizing what you’ve lost and that it happened because of your inability to stop using your drug of choice literally is the first step.