Perspective on Time and Overcoming Addiction
It is the million-dollar question. How long does it take for someone to truly overcome an addiction? There are many more questions that will arise within that question. How long before I feel better? How long before the cravings go away? How long before my emotions and moods stabilize? How long before I can be trusted? I used to be hung up on time quite a bit. I was always in a hurry to get my life back in order. I did not want to slow down and let the process of getting better take its natural course. In my infinite rush to get better as quickly as possible, I prolonged my addiction for far more years than was necessary. When I did finally slow down and focus on what mattered, doing everything necessary to make sure I handled my addiction once in for all, I found that the time it took was far less important than how I used that time to actually heal.
My addiction was chaotic. I was always on edge, wondering how I would get the next fix, an endless chase for the next high. Time was blurred, as each day revolved around getting high and desperately, often unsuccessfully, trying to figure out how not to run out. This was addict behavior, and unfortunately for me, that mindset carried over in my attempts to get clean. I had so much attention on making up for lost time, getting a job, jumping into new relationships, fixing broken relationships, that I was always in a hurry to get better as quickly as possible. This included seeking out detoxes and brief treatment programs as well as going right back to the life I needed to escape and trying to white-knuckle my sobriety. This negated the time I did spend trying to get clean because I was not doing anything worthwhile with that time.
Which brings me to that original question, how long does it take to overcome an addiction? I do not believe there is a general answer to that question that can be applied to everyone. Instead, rather than focusing on the amount of time that it takes to get better, instead focus on how that time is being used and what you are doing to get better. While I believe that a longer termed approach will always prove to have a higher success rate than doing anything aiming for a quick fix, I do not believe time alone is the determining factor. I do not believe that jail is a proper form of reform when it comes to drug addiction. We hear all too often of addicts getting locked up and then immediately going back to addiction upon release, often winding up back behind bars or paying the ultimate price of death.
“Once I stopped worrying about how long it would take to get better and instead began focusing on doing whatever it took to get better, I gave myself the chance that I needed and within months I knew I was on my way to leaving my addiction where it belonged…”
Speaking for myself, a final commitment to living a drug-free included removing the time restrictions I had previously been so hung up on. Once I stopped worrying about how long it would take to get better and instead began focusing on doing whatever it took to get better, I gave myself the chance that I needed and within months, I knew I was on my way to leaving my addiction where it belonged, in my past and no longer a part of my present or future. It is perhaps a bit ironic knowing that slowing down the process ended up speeding up my recovery. That is because as I used my time efficiently, working on getting my mind and body healed and focused on making decisions that were best for my life, the quicker I achieved what I had been in such a big hurry to achieve, a drug-free life free from addiction.