Why a Complete, Life Change is Necessary for Effective Addiction Recovery

Sober man outside enjoying nature

Let’s have a very intimate, significant, heart-to-heart discussion about drug and alcohol addiction, and what it takes to get recovered off of drugs and alcohol. It is high time that we have a talk about this, and it is past time that we take a minute to look past some of the more common yet not necessarily accurate stereotypes and fixed thoughts attendant with addiction and recovery.

There are so many different viewpoints and conflicting ideas on the subject of drug and alcohol addiction and addiction treatment in general that it is no wonder why the subject contains a fair degree of confusion and misinformation. And to exacerbate this condition, addiction and addiction recovery works differently for different people. Even though addiction might appear to be basically the same affliction for those who are affected by it, the truth is that each individual person is affected by this problem very differently from the next. So it could be logical then that each person is going to need different levels of care and health in overcoming their own addiction habits.

The Biggest Mistakes Made in Addiction Recovery

The biggest mistake that is often made in addiction recovery is that, while the individual is in a treatment center, whatever help or support that person gets in the recovery process does not go far enough to focus on the entire person and everything that he or she needs in order to fully overcome their drug habit. To summarize it in one sentence, many drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs err on the side of not doing enough. And the individual himself or herself who is trying to overcome addiction does not themselves do enough to secure their freedom from a crippling substance abuse habit. Nine times out of ten, if an individual succeeds in overcoming addiction, it is because they did a little too little, a little too late.

What a lot of people do not know is that overcoming drug and alcohol addiction takes a massive level of effort and an all-encompassing drive to change the person’s life in multiple different categories. Most people and a lot of drug rehabs think that they can fully address addiction by only focusing on the chemical dependence on drugs or alcohol alone. And they think that a couple weeks of therapy and intensive counseling is enough to repair the damage of a drug habit that the person has probably had for several years. This ends up being a flagrant misestimation of the effort of what it truly takes to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.

What it Really Takes to Effectively Free Someone from the Trap of Addiction

Helping someone go free from drug and alcohol addiction is no easy task, though it is possible and it is successfully accomplished with hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United States every year. Thousands of Americans go free from drug addiction on an annual basis, so if we could tap into the successful actions that they took to overcome their addictions habits, we would be in a good position overall.

First off, it takes a lot longer than most treatment centers estimate to help a person create any kind of stability in their sobriety. Most drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs only offer a treatment approach of about twenty-eight days. But this is a flagrant mistake, as twenty-eight days is almost never enough time to help someone overcome an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Most people do not become willing to get off of drugs and alcohol until they have been addicted for a number of years.

How is it even remotely possible that someone who has been using drugs and alcohol for several years and who has built substances into their lives as a crucial part of their lives could completely remove several years worth of addiction habit it in just a few weeks? It simply doesn’t happen. Twenty-eight days is hardly even enough time for the individual to fully remove their chemical dependence to their drugs of choice, much less overcome all of the mental, psychological, and spiritual connections to drugs and alcohol.

Drug and alcohol rehab centers need to offer more time in their rehabs and they need to offer more services in that time as well.

How a Complete Life Change Helps Create Freedom from a Substance Abuse Habit

Hand flips change to chance

When an individual decides that it is time to get off of drugs and alcohol, this is not a prospect as simple as going to a detoxification facility and receiving some assistance in coming down off of whatever substances one is dependent upon. It takes a great deal more effort than that.

In fact, one could go so far as to say that addiction recovery requires a complete, life change. Here are a few examples of what most people need to change to ensure that they maintain their sobriety and that they live a fulfilling and relapse-free life:

  • The person needs to change their environment, and they need to make a committed effort to not being in the same places and environments that they were in before. When a person abuses drugs and alcohol, they will likely find themselves in environments that are not conducive to their health. Bars, nightclubs, back alleyways, gambling rooms, drug gangs, bad neighborhoods, drug houses, drug-rich workplaces, gang territories, etc. These are all environments that a recovering individual should absolutely avoid.
  • The person may need to change who they spend their time with as well. While in recovery, an individual should absolutely surround themselves with people who support their sobriety and people who have their back when it comes to recovery. In that same token, the individual should also strive to only spend time with sober and supportive family members and loved ones.
  • The person should also make a change in how they live their day-to-day lives. They should dive headfirst into productive career paths, taking care of the family, and doing things that are productive and useful and supportive of an abstinent lifestyle. Recreation should be a part of that as well, but only in pro-sobriety and healthy habits. Recreational activities that could border on substance abuse or even which could go in the direction of substance abuse should be avoided.
  • The individual may also want to pursue self-improvement and spend some time each day on enhancing their own life and themselves in general. Reading books, taking courses, improving life skills, going back to school, exploring one’s spiritual and religious side if applicable, and overall working to improve oneself even after they’ve completed a rehabilitation program is a wise course of action for the person who truly wants to create a stable foundation in recovery.

Stagnation is the hallmark of relapse, and the types of people who simply drift into a condition of “no change” and no improvement after rehab are the types of people who put themselves at risk for relapse. Addiction recovery is a matter of constant growth and constant pursuit of a better lifestyle. If recovering individuals embrace this, they can make a complete change in their lives for the better.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.