If you’re struggling with an addiction, you likely know the benefits as well as the costs of your substance use. You might get a lot out of using the drug. It might work as a coping tool, albeit an unhealthy one. Drinking or drug use might be the thing you have in common with friends and family – although certainly a harmful commonality.
In fact, there’s a good chance that if considering putting an end to your substance use, you might be experiencing plenty of ambivalence. With an addiction the opposing forces and inner struggle can be strong. On the one hand, you might recognize the damage that drug use or drinking creates, and for this reason, you may want to stop. Yet, at the same time, the alcohol or drugs might bring an ease to challenging feelings, tumultuous thinking, and or a way to manage anxiety or depression. Knowing the pros and cons to the addiction creates the strong ambivalence. In fact, you might even tell yourself that you want to stop using, but depression, anxiety, and other fundamental reasons might lead you to continue to use. And so, you might find yourself in that cycle of moving from one side of the fence to the other.
Sometimes, the decision to get addiction help can be so challenging that a person can stay stuck in that in-between place for many years. Some men and women who are caught in an addiction might even know friends and family members who have died because of substance use. And yet, the illness of addiction might still have a strong hold on them.
If you find yourself stuck in the trap of addiction and in the inner struggle of wanting to quit and not wanting to quit, one important step would be to get support. The kind of support might be someone you trust, someone you can share your story with and not feel judged or criticized. At the very least, talking about where you’re in this struggle might bring a sense of relief.
By talking about your concerns and fears with someone, you might then be ready to discuss your struggle with a mental health professional. Working with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or drug counselor, can help you work through your ambivalence so that you can make a clear decision about whether or not to get treatment. In fact, you might continue to drink and use drugs during this period of working out your thoughts and feelings. However, because the ambivalence is high and the inner struggle is challenging, you might need to get professional support in order to make a decision about getting treatment.
Another benefit to working with someone is that by working it through together, a mental health professional might help you find your own intrinsic desire to get sober. In other words, rather than get sober because someone else is telling you to do so (including the law, parents, spouse, or loved one), instead you find the reason for yourself. Besides, making a firm decision and committing to recovery because it’s something you want to do creates a strong beginning to your recovery.
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