Study: Commitment and self-reliance prove to be the key to recovery from addiction

Overcoming alcohol and drug addiction can often be a struggle many people go through. However, according to a study, at least half of the participants were able to overcome their drinking or drug problem on their own.

The study, which was undertaken at the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), was the first of its kind to reveal that several Americans were able to overcome serious problems that involved alcohol or the use of other drugs. Out of the participants in a survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, a little over nine percent of the respondents stated that they previously had a problem but no longer did. More than half of them reported that they did this with help of some sort, while only 46 percent of the successful respondents think of themselves as “in recovery.” (Related: Addiction begins in the brain – Here is what you need to know.)

John Kelly, Ph.D., director of the Recovery Research Institute in the MGH Department of Psychiatry, said, “The number of people who have overcome serious alcohol and other drug problems and exactly how they have achieved that has been a question of increasing general interest and public health interest.” Kelly led the study, which was published online in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

He continued, “Understanding how people recover and sustain remission is important from both a policy and a service provision standpoint, and finding that many people can and do resolve significant problems on their own is an important message that we hope can enhance individuals’ sense of hope, personal agency and increased confidence in their ability to change.”

Kelly commented that since most people who overcome grave AOD problems do not think of themselves as “in recovery,” it might be time to reconsider how we refer to them. When it comes to the use of assistance, medical experts are aware that individuals who often “meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder and remit from their disorder” accomplish this without any formal assistance. He added, “This study expands those prior findings to people who resolve significant but less serious AOD problems and suggests we may need to broaden our thinking about how people solve these problems without formal help.”

Natural ways to treat addiction

If you’re looking for a natural way to kick an alcohol or drug addiction, here are some suggestions that you can try:

  • Start a new hobby  Anything from a new hobby like solving crossword puzzles or fostering new relationships will keep you occupied when you’re on the road to recovery. You can start up an old hobby you stopped before the addiction, or you can pick up something new to while the time away. As long as it’s something you enjoy doing, your new hobby can even help give your life new meaning.
  • Start exercising — Aside from the obvious health benefits of an active lifestyle, you need exercise for two reasons. First, exercise is a natural antidepressant, and it can relieve stress and clear your mind. Second, regular exercise makes your body produce endorphins, psychoactive substances that trigger’s your brain’s reward pathway. Endorphins also help you feel more positive.

Why you should quit

If you think you’re becoming too reliant on alcohol and drugs, recognizing the problem means you’re one step closer to a resolution. While the journey to recovery is long and hard, here are some reasons why it’s not too late to quit using drugs or alcohol:

  • Quitting drugs and alcohol can (literally) save your life – Statistics don’t lie. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 50 below. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet, excessive alcohol caused an estimated “88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year” in the U.S. from 2006-2010.
  • Refraining from substance abuse can help you reconnect with your loved ones – Substance abuse is often the cause of estranged relationships, and it can even affect your career if it gets out of hand.
  • Only you can choose to “reset” your life – The decision to change for the better must come from you, and if you choose to quit alcohol and drug use, you will eventually find it easier to get your life in order.

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