Editor’s note: This September, Audacious Ideas features a special month-long series in conjunction with National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. We’ve asked several individuals to share their ideas about addiction issues and the failed war on drugs.
Being addicted when you are a teenager does not seem believable. You think people who tell you that you are an alcoholic or an addict are lying. You see other people use drugs and drink and they do not get sick enough to have to go to a rehab program. You just want to be able to be like everyone else and have fun. But soon you realize that you are not really like everyone else if you need to drink or use drugs just to get through the day. And when you are using all the time, your days are awful because you end up thinking so much about getting high or drunk and you lose connections with other things and people in your life that really matter.
Even when you know you are addicted, and you need help, you do not want to go to treatment and you definitely do not want your parents to send you to rehab. It is weird, but rehab is both scary and safe at the same time. If you cannot stop drinking or using very addictive drugs like cocaine, then you need rehab. But you are so scared because you have no idea how you will function without your drugs or alcohol. After a while in rehab, it feels safe there because everyone there is like you–they are trying to stop using.
You learn in rehab that stopping your abuse of drugs and alcohol is just the first thing you need to do. You also learn that what lies ahead is the rest of your recovery. So when formal rehab ends you have to go to outpatient treatment, have a therapist, and go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. One Day at a Time is a lot easier to handle than thinking about recovery as something that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life.