If you’ve dealt with addiction of any kind, you know it’s a fierce force that can change a person from the inside. It’s easy to see when someone else has a problem, but much more difficult to recognize when the addict is you. If you’re a business owner or executive, it can feel impossible. After all, you haven’t missed work, you wear your suit with pride, and no one knows your secret. Or, do they?
If you suspect you’ve picked up an unwanted addiction, you can’t hide it. Not for long. Here are five steps to get a handle on your life before your addiction solidifies its grip on you.
1. Admit you need help.
Addiction comes in many forms and yours will manifest with a few unique indicators. There are, however, a few universal clues that can help you determine if you need help, but you have to admit it to yourself first. If you’re struggling to decide if you’re truly addicted, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has put together a questionnaire that can help you put things into perspective.
2. Change your routine.
One of the largest and most impactful changes to your daily routine should be the inclusion of drug or alcohol rehab. Plan to take a few weeks away from work for a “personal sabbatical” and use what vacation time you have available. Even if you can’t to stay gone for a full 30 to 90 days, even a week to detox is a good start. Once you return back to your daily life, consider changing your activities outside of work to avoid situations that would trigger you to use. For instance, don’t drive home on a route that has your favorite bar. You might also commit yourself to drug prevention volunteer activities or community service projects that you feel strongly about.
3. Focus on your health.
Long-term exposure to drugs or alcohol can take a toll on the body. Likewise, changing what you put into your body can have a positive effect on your health. When you eat foods, such as fresh vegetables and lean proteins, your body regains the ability to repair itself from damage caused by daily wear and tear. This can make you feel strong and healthy, which can help you avoid the stress that often leads to drug use. BBC’s Good Food offers plenty of practical advice on maintaining a balanced diet. Exercise is essential to a healthy mind and body as well and directly affects your brain with a healthy mirror image of how drugs and alcohol did. DrugRehab.org explains that exercise has extraordinary benefits for those in recovery.
4. Educate yourself on the effects of drugs and alcohol.
As a business professional, you’ve no doubt dedicated a good portion your life to educating yourself in your respective industry. This has given you a leg up on the competition and helped to stay focused professionally. Take the same approach toward drugs and alcohol. When you truly understand their devastating effects, you will ostensibly be less likely to reach for your vice. Check out these photos from CBS news for before and after images that clearly illustrate the physical effects of addiction.
5. Maintain your commitment to sobriety.
It is not simply enough to want to get clean. In order to maintain your sobriety, you have to make a commitment to each day. Start by setting small personal goals such as, “I will not have a drink after dinner.” Build yourself up to larger rewards. You might, perhaps, save the money you would spend on drugs and alcohol to take a lengthy vacation with your family at your one-year sobriety mark. Forbes explains that you should write down your goals and make sure they remain visible.
You don’t have to sacrifice your current quality of life in order to enhance it. Once you realize you have a problem, you can take preemptive steps to ensure that today’s drug use doesn’t become tomorrow’s disaster.