Substance use disorder is a severe condition that impacts millions of people each year. Whether you are addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines, there are resources available to help you on your road to recovery.

America’s Addiction Emergency

Clearly the most important focus for someone getting over an addiction is staying alive. The opioid epidemic has ravaged the United States in recent years, killing many thousands of people as the government cracks down on doctors who overprescribe painkillers such as oxycodone. This has forced users to move to street drugs, including heroin, which is often cut with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid many times more powerful than morphine. 

Often manufactured in China and then smuggled into the country, fentanyl is highly deadly and can cause a user to stop breathing from only one use. Without an accurate way to know how much fentanyl is being mixed with each ounce of heroin, addicts have been inadvertently killing themselves with this toxic combination.

The problem has become so widespread that first responders across the country now carry Narcan with them at all times to administer to people actively overdosing on an opioid. If the antidote is delivered early enough, the individual can be saved. Narcan, a brand of naloxone, is the only option for those overdosing from opioids such as heroin and fentanyl.

However, if that person goes right back to using, the chances of them overdosing again are significant. Additionally, fentanyl has what is called a “half life,” which means that it stays in a person’s system, so an individual who has overdosed and been revived with Narcan can go back into an overdose 10, 20, or even 30 minutes later without further drug use.

The Long-term Solution

The best approach is to get the addicted individual into a safe and effective drug treatment program that will address the immediate withdrawals as well as long-term recovery needs. While many people who have never dealt with addiction may believe that stopping is as simple as not using anymore, those that have struggled with addiction know better.

To stop using substances that your body has become dependent on, you must first get through the withdrawals safely, which is easiest to do in a facility equipped for drug and alcohol detox. They will have medications that help with the various side effects of withdrawal, which may include fever, diarrhea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and vomiting. They are also prepared for the more severe side effects, including seizures.

Once you are through the withdrawal period and your body is physically past the effects of the drugs you used, you need to immediately start addressing the other aspects of your substance use disorder, including your mental and emotional dependence on the drug and the root causes of your addiction. Involving talk therapy and self-assessment, the process of recovery will include meetings and fellowship with other people struggling with addiction in addition to larger lifestyle changes, and counseling.

Relocating is often a positive option because it separates you from the people and places that commonly trigger usage and provides an opportunity to increase recovery capital. There are substance abuse rehabilitation facilities throughout the United States and Canada. The Canadian Centre for Addictions offers rehab in Toronto that is open to both Canadians and Americans. 

Too often an addict is placed in risky situations too soon after getting clean, which leads them to relapse. To maintain recovery, those with addictions need the opportunity to learn new life skills, including how to respond to pressures and people that contributed to or triggered their self-destructive behavior. For many, this means finding new friends, ending romantic relationships, and avoiding individual family members, all of which can be exceedingly tricky.

There is a reason successful recovery is found in groups. It is nearly impossible to beat this disorder alone and that includes surrounding yourself with people who are incapable of understanding how it feels. Those whom you can relate to and who have been through the recovery process to some extent are much better equipped to dispense meaningful advice and guidance. Networking and spending time with others in recovery provides opportunities for mentoring, fellowship, and ongoing support.