When I got sober I quit cold turkey. As you’ve probably heard, this isn’t recommended for everyone who decides to quit drinking. In some cases, it can even be dangerous because of physical withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t know this when I got sober. What I wanted to do was be alone with my shame, my guilt, and my burden. I didn’t want others to know how badly I hurt inside. I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable in front of others.
Addiction treatment never occurred to me for a variety of reasons. First, I didn’t think addiction treatment was for me. I believed the stereotype that addiction treatment is only for alcoholics and addicts who have lost everything. I thought you had to be in a very bad way to benefit from addiction treatment. I also felt the stigma of addiction treatment. I worried that people would judge me if I went away and stayed at a treatment center. They might think I was a bad person or some kind of criminal. Addiction treatment seemed overwhelming and final. It seemed like something I couldn’t hide from people if it didn’t work out. I wanted to make sure if I failed, I didn’t let my family down and no one would know about it.
Unfortunately, a lot of people feel the way I did. That’s exactly why only a fraction of the millions of Americans who suffer from a substance use disorder are being treated. The truth is you do not need to be an alcoholic to go to and benefit from treatment. Anyone who has issues with alcohol and/or drugs can go to treatment and they should.
If you’re scouring the internet looking for answers surrounding your drinking and using, you are not alone. I and so many others have done the exact same thing in our desperation to change our lives. I wish I had read more about addiction treatment in my search for sobriety. I wish someone told me that I don’t need to call myself an alcoholic to get sober or benefit from this treatment. That’s what I’m telling you today.
Is it possible to get sober and sustain recovery without going to treatment? Sure it is, but addiction treatment is a great resource. We need to break the stigma around this life-saving resource because there are so many of us that need it. Additionally, there are labels that carry a lot of stigma, including addict and alcoholic. For some of us, we hear these words and we cringe. We want to run far away from anything associated with them. That’s why it’s important to understand that you do not need to be an alcoholic to go to treatment. Maybe you don’t know what you are. Maybe those labels don’t apply to you, or maybe they’re empowering for you. Everyone is different. The point is if you’re waiting around to determine if you’re an alcoholic or not to get sober and go to treatment, you might be waiting around forever. You might never have the chance to get better.
Labels are labels – they can be stigmatizing, they can be empowering, or they can be hurtful. In the big picture, they don’t matter. If alcohol and drugs are making you feel bad – if you wake up in the morning wishing your life was different, if you have endured any type of negative consequence from drinking, treatment is for you. It’s for anyone that wants to work on themselves, anyone who wants to evolve past using drugs and alcohol in their life, and for anyone who wants to take their power back.
You do not have to live another miserable day with the crutch of alcohol or drugs. It’s true we live in a society where alcohol is everywhere, but you can eliminate it from your life. You can look at all the reasons why it makes you feel bad, why you don’t need it, and how you can move past it. And the best part? You don’t have to do it alone. You don’t have to hide away from the world in your bedroom and wish it away, like I did. I encourage you to use all the resources available to you, even addiction treatment, even if you’re scared, and even if it seems like a crazy thing to do.
You do not need to be an alcoholic to go to treatment. You only need to want to change your life.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine. She is currently writing a memoir.