2 in three years and owed more than $50,000 in back child support. He died broke and alone.” The point of this story is not to frighten anyone addicted to drugs. The lesson is this: that man’s life ended in a tragic and unnecessary way. As much as the drugs, it was the man’s refusal to take charge of his own life which led to his family’s separation, his loss of home, jobs, friends, and, ultimately, his premature death. This tragedy is not unique. According to the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, each year drug and alcohol abuse contributes to the death of more than 120,000 Americans. In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that drugs and alcohol cost taxpayers more than $143 billion annually in preventable health care costs, extra law enforcement, auto crashes, crime, and lost productivity. Other studies indicate that nearly 14 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, and that some 43 percent of Americans have grown up with or are married to someone with a drinking problem. However, there is a far more important fact than those cruel statistics and it is this: those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol can change. Although this is not easy, countless millions have taken actions which have led them to wholeness. You, too, can be addiction free.
Here are some important steps to take, which will place you on the road to recovery. 1 Do a Reality Check Take a personal inventory to determine whether or not you may have a drinking or drug problem. Making this determination is not a complex matter. Just be honest with yourself, and you’ll discover if substance use is taking over your life. Check any of the following which apply to you: • There is preoccupation with the use of alcohol or a chemical between periods of use. • Using more alcohol or the chemical than had been anticipated. • The development of tolerance to alcohol or the chemical in question. • A withdrawal syndrome from alcohol or the chemical. • Use of alcohol or the chemical to avoid withdrawal symptoms. • Repeated and unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop the use. • Affected at inappropriate times (such as at work) or when it impacts with daily functioning, such as a hangover which makes a person too sick for work. • Limiting social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of further substance use. 3