Importance of Seeking Treatment
When Getting Sober
By Cassidy Webb
Getting sober can be extremely challenging. I wanted to get sober for months before I was able to accumulate more than one day sober at a time. Day after day I would promise myself that I would only drink one last time. Each time, I found the physical cravings and mental obsession too strong to not drink again. After months of failing myself, I reached out to a detox facility to help with the physical withdrawals. The detox set me up with a treatment center where I did three months of inpatient drug and alcohol treatment before going to a halfway house.
When I arrived at the treatment center, I was feeling better physically. Detox medications had helped clear my body of the alcohol and made withdrawals manageable. Quickly, the mental obsession to drink returned and I was faced with the racing thoughts in my head telling me to drink. When I sat and listened to the first group therapy session we had, I learned that other individuals in the facility felt the same way I did. Although they were no longer feeling the effects of alcohol withdrawal, they still had thoughts of drinking. This was the first time I felt safe and comfortable in sobriety. I spent most of my life believing that nobody understood the way that I felt. I finally learned that I wasn’t alone in my struggles.
It took me about a month to begin to open up in our group therapy sessions. Even though it was a small group of about 10 people, I was still scared to talk about my feelings and emotions with others. As soon as I was able to do this, I began to develop relationships with other people who also wanted to achieve long term sobriety. Being able to talk with others and build a sober support network was an important tool for my recovery.
Although group therapy allowed me to share about my struggles with people who could relate, I still needed more individual attention to help me work through the trauma I had suffered in the past. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to a group of people about traumatic events in my past, but this was made easier with a professional therapist who was understanding and knew how help me process these events.
It was important for me to let go of these past demons in order to recover from alcoholism. While I was drinking, if I saw or heard something that reminded me of past trauma, I would drink more to forget about it. I didn’t know how to cope with my emotions in a healthy way. Working one-on-one with a therapist helped me learn about coping methods so that I didn’t have to drink every time I was emotionally distraught.
It is common for those who suffer from substance abuse to also struggle with mental illness. Many alcoholics and addicts are diagnosed with a co-occuring mental health disorder when they are in treatment. Prior to treatment, I thought that drinking was my only problem. Even before I started drinking daily, I remember feeling discontent and easily irritated. I struggled to sleep through the night and was often lethargic. In treatment I was diagnosed with depression.
In treatment, we had several different kinds of mental health groups, one of them being depression therapy. I learned about the various symptoms of depression which included insomnia, irritability, lack of energy, and feelings of emptiness. Once I was put on medication to treat my depression, the chemicals in my brain were given a chance to balance themselves out. I felt a general increase in energy and motivation. A lack of motivation and purpose was always a reason for me to drink. I don’t think I would be able to maintain my sobriety without treating my depression as well.
Through different holistic treatment methods such as yoga, meditation, and art therapy, I learned about healthy habits and healthy ways to spend my time. Yoga gave me an opportunity to strengthen my body and focus on my breathing. It is hard to focus on any thoughts of drinking when you are striving to hold a challenging new yoga pose or trying to focus on deep breathing. With a stronger, healthier body, I became a more confident individual.
Meditation taught me a good way to relax and clear my mind. Meditation allows me to connect with myself as well as the energy in my body, while slowing my racing thoughts. It is a tool that I continue to use because meditation is a very spiritual activity, and I have found that spirituality is important in maintaining long term sobriety.