There are always a bevy of reasons not to get sober, and it does not take much effort to come up with a few that sound like viable obstacles to enrolling in treatment when you are living with an addiction.
“Who’s going to watch my kids?”
“I don’t have the money.”
“I’m barely maintaining at work as it is. I can’t lose my job.”
“I’ve got too much going on to take a month off. How can I explain something like that?”
At the end of the day, though there are so many reasons to continue drinking and getting high, there is only one reason to get clean and sober: you. Though you may feel like you are putting yourself first by choosing to avoid treatment, the fact is that you are prioritizing your addiction – not you.
Here are seven reasons why getting sober now is the best choice for you:
- Your physical health: No matter what your drug of choice is or your most commonly used method of ingestion, your drug or alcohol use is harming your health. Depending on the details, the exact damage may vary.
First, the type of drug that you use most frequently may be a primary factor in the health problems you face. For example, if you are addicted to cocaine or crystal meth, you are at risk of developing heart arrhythmia as well as experiencing heart attack and/or stroke due to the stimulant nature of the drugs. If your drug of choice is heroin or benzodiazepines, you may be at risk of respiratory depression, while alcohol use can contribute to the development of heart disease and liver failure.
Additionally, the method of ingestion can play a role. Using needles, for example, can mean blood infections and abscesses. Snorting drugs can lead to sinus problems and the degradation of the nasal cavities as well as gastrointestinal issues. Smoking drugs can cause asthma and other respiratory issues as well as an increased risk of certain cancers.
When you mix drugs and methods of ingestion, your health problems only increase. And when you have underlying medical issues, those are often exacerbated by a substance use disorder.
- Your mental health: For many, mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression predate drug use and may even contribute to the development of addiction. Many drink or use drugs in an effort to escape their mental health issues or numb uncomfortable feelings but find that chronic substance use often worsens the original mental health symptoms and causes a few new ones.
In other cases, chronic drug and alcohol use causes the development of mental health issues. Paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, anxiety, and depression – these may occur while under the influence or in response to being without the drug after a binge. No matter how it begins, however, mental health symptoms can and should also be treated during substance abuse treatment in order to increase stability in recovery.
- Your sense of self-respect: As difficult as getting clean and staying sober may be, consider how much stronger you will feel in recovery. With nothing to hide and no addiction weighing you down, your self-confidence will increase as you begin to explore your authentic self without the cloud of drugs and alcohol.
- Your career goals: What would you like to do with your career? What would you like to be doing in five years? Ten years? When you are living with an addiction, you cannot do well in school, learn new skills, make yourself indispensable to your employer for advancement opportunities, or build your own business. But when you are sober, there are few heights you cannot attain.
- Your personal goals: Similarly, the things you want to accomplish in your personal life are more attainable when you do not have an addiction standing in the way.
- Your spiritual fulfillment: No matter what your spiritual views are, in sobriety, there is an opportunity to go deeper, expand your horizons, and explore different avenues of expression. When you are sober, you have a clearer view of the world and your place in it, and you can begin to experience different parts of your personality that were previously lost in addiction.
- Your happiness: Being high is not the same thing as being happy. Getting clean and sober is not easy, but it can lead to a life that is more balanced, which in turn can contribute to a feeling of contentment and even happiness. When addiction as well as underlying or co-occurring mental health issues are comprehensively treated, happiness is closer at hand than when addiction is allowed to continue.
Do It for You
You may have other reasons for wanting to get clean and sober in addition to, or instead of, the ones listed above – your parents, your marriage or significant relationship, your children’s health, or your boss’s expectations. Though all of these are valid and excellent motivators, and these relationships may potentially benefit from your recovery, they cannot be the primary reasons for your entrance into sobriety. Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to allow your sobriety to depend on the response or behavior of other people. Rather, your sobriety is about you and therefore must be for you. You have to want it for yourself for all of the reasons listed above and more.
What are your reasons for getting and staying sober? What are the ways your life will improve when you stop allowing drugs and alcohol to drive your decisions?