Even in darkness, you can be found

Nicola Park LAC, LPC-MH
Prairie Doc Perspective

“I’ve lost everything…but I just can’t stop.”  “Once I take that first drink that is all I think about.”   “I use to take the pain away.”  These are some of the many things you might hear someone who struggles on a daily basis with an addiction say.  Addiction is a chronic disease that can physically and mentally change a person from who they once were.
When we hear the word addiction, we might automatically go to ‘the person on the street looking to score their next fix’, but these are people who struggle every minute of their day to make the unconscious choice to feed this compulsion without thinking of the consequences of what this might do to them or their family.  Addiction doesn’t pick and choose, have a ‘type’ or have a criteria, so anyone from any gender, class, race etc. can fall victim to this disorder. In my time at various jobs, I have heard addiction described as their own worst enemy, their best (and only) friend, or the one thing they wish they could take back from their life.  Now don’t forget, addiction doesn’t just stop at substances.  You will see a wide range including gambling, shopping, eating, pornography and this is only just naming a few that can consume a persons every waking thought.  
As hopeless as addiction might feel, the good news is there is hope and recovery is possible.  Now there might not be a cure for addiction, but with the right tools, you can certainly make positive changes to help maintain prolonged sobriety.  Now, I can sit here and say these words quite easily, but the road is far from that.  These words are not said to discourage or make you scared, but to give a real perspective that it takes a lot of work, time, dedication and change, but with that, recovery is possible.  Whether you choose treatment, AA/NA (and others), other peer support groups, or taking your recovery into your own hands, there are some core components that need to happen to gain a better chance of being successful.  You can start doing this by surrounding yourself with positive supports, changing your playgrounds by not frequenting the same places, gaining healthy coping skills and taking it one day at a time. To finish, I always tell my patients, make sure you are addressing your mental health as well as your substance use.  A beautiful life is waiting for you, but you just need to take that first step in admitting to yourself you have a problem and asking for help.      
(Nicola Park LAC, LPC-MH is a licensed mental health professional/counselor (LPC-MH) and a licensed addictions counselor (LAC) at Avera Behavioral Health in Sioux Falls.)