By Dr. Janet Brill
A ground-breaking new book, “Reclaim Your Life: You and the Alcoholic/Addict” by Carole Bennett discusses the journey of recovery in depth. According to her research, an astonishing 22 million are addicted to drug or alcohol. Considering that 318.9 million people live in the United States — based on a 2014 census — this comes to 7% of the population. This does not include the number of people affected by the addict’s behavior. Her research estimates that this is about four people.
Behind the statistics, is the story of millions of lives harmed by addiction. It’s a story of resentment, confusion, and heartache. Recovery is a struggle to reclaim respect and return to dignity.
It’s Not Easy to Quit
Beside the subconscious urges of addiction, an addict is faces mixed cultural messages. On one hand, government-funded programs are promote the slogan ”just say no.” On the other hand, television shows and movies spend millions to subvert this message. They paint addiction as some kind of romanticized rebellion and glamorize a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.
How Bad Can It Be?
The best way to understand the real consequences of an addiction is to look at a real case study.
Here is how Bria, a former drug addict who now works as a Residential Manager at Hawaii Island Recovery, describes her journey back to sobriety.
She first describes what it is like to be an addict:
“I dealt with addiction for 22 years of my life. I was broken, I was hopeless. I was an absolute mess. You know the behaviors, the thinking, that I was a programmed addict. Everything about me was about getting what I need, more than I needed it, no matter what I had to do, who I had to hurt. It was just about addiction. I was something else when I came here. I was angry, I would just get screaming. It was horrible.”
She then describes what it was like to quit and resume a normal life:
“Coming from that darkness, I feel like I’m seeing the benefits of doing the work, and staying clean and sober. And, the freedom that I feel today is what I was looking for in drugs and alcohol. But this freedom is better; it’s a peace of mind, calmness that I’ve never experienced in my life”
Steps to a New Life
There are many aspects of life after recovery. The social aspect focuses on rebuilding trust and relationships. And the health aspect focuses on rebuilding the body through proper nutrition and exercise. Often, however, the most pressing issue facing someone in recovery is getting a job and regaining financial stability.
During any type of job hunt, there is hope and disappointment, anxiety and depression. In the current economic environment, this is difficult enough for everyone. But it can be almost twice as stressful for someone in recovery. In fact, the stress can be severe enough to force them to seek the comfort of drugs and alcohol.
One way to stay on track is to get all the support and resources to make things work.
Here are 5 suggested steps:
1. Driving privileges. It’s a big step in the right direction to getting your driving rights back. This might include looking into cheap auto insurance SR22 quotes to help increase your chances of driving legally again. It also might include getting a secondhand car. While public transportation is always an option, it can be difficult to be on time for interviews. It’s hard to be punctual if one has to rely on buses or the trolley.
2. Internships. Find an internship if it is necessary to get experience and skills in a particular line of work. Once a person has demonstrated their commitment at doing a good job, they might get a job offer. Unfortunately, paid internships are rare. In some instances, some companies ask interns to pay for the privilege. An internship may become more doable if someone has a sponsor or is enrolled in a sponsorship program.
3. Volunteering. If an internship is not possible, then a volunteer position is the next best choice. While this is a better way to get a job than submitting blind applications, someone will need financial support until they can secure work.
4. The HIRE Network. This organization offers a way for those who need a job to get in touch with employers willing to hire someone who can’t find work because of their background. Usually, however, they are supportive of those who also have a criminal record.
5. Employment support group. Joining a support group for people in recovery looking for employment is yet another approach. Ideally, the support should include working with employment experts who help learn important career skills such as how to write a good resume and ace a job interview.
The Long Journey Back
The journey from a life of addiction to one of recovery is long and hard. Once a person is in recovery, they then have to climb back to a normal life. The best way to complete this journey is to get as much support as possible. Fortunately, there are many organizations eager to help someone who shows a willingness to reclaim their life.