Addiction is an elusive, yet treatable chronic health condition that affects an individual’s entire life. Usually, it isn’t until years later that an individual realizes the toll addiction or alcoholism has taken on their physical, mental, and emotional health, and the damage can seem insurmountable. Some may ask, “What’s the point in seeking help?” “There’s nothing I can do to reverse the damage I’ve done or the pain I’ve caused.” These are common thoughts for those who have struggled with any addiction, and are the furthest from the truth. For most, seeking help for their addiction is the first healthy, (and most difficult), decision they’ve made in a very long time, if not their entire life. Addiction is now widely accepted by the medical and professional community as a disease, no different than diabetes or cancer. So in that sense, I urge you to try and convince someone with diabetes to go against the grain and refuse treatment for their illness. Seeing addiction in this new light may help those afflicted with it realize the seriousness of their situation. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and many benefits to seeking treatment for whatever addiction you may struggle with. Here are some of the basics:

· Medical Stabilization: In the case of substance abuse and/or alcoholism, withdrawal symptoms are often further complicated by other pre-existing medical and mental health disorders. Having a safe and comfortable facility with around the clock medical monitoring to keep these symptoms in check is often necessary. Withdrawal from certain substances including opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, can be life threatening on their own depending on the severity and length of time of abuse. Throw in any type of underlying condition, physical or mental, and you can very well have a very serious situation on your hands without the proper medical attention.

· Therapeutic Intervention: Professional treatment facilities offer more than just medical assistance, they also provide therapeutic support that will help guide the individual through the treatment process and prepare them for sobriety and recovery in the outside world. Group therapy, personal therapy, alternative therapies, and holistic treatments can all work together to ensure that each patient has the unique set of tools necessary to be successful without drinking. In many cases, there is typically some type of underlying issue that comes to light after abstinence, and a licensed professional can better point that out to you before you can even begin to realize it for yourself.

· Relapse Prevention: While in treatment, there is going to be a lot of information given to you, all equally important, and one big topic is going to be relapse prevention. This is a huge topic because it encompasses everything that will benefit you in leading to a new life post-treatment. This topic will teach you coping skills to deal with the emotions and impulses that may arise after a period of abstinence, building new relationships as well as rebuilding old relationships, and seeking support in different forms after treatment. That is only the tip of the iceberg, there is a lifelong dedication to self-improvement toward a purpose driven, and abstinent life.

· Peer and Family Support: Addiction is often called a “family disease”. This is because of the effect of the actions of those addicted on their family and friends, and the reaction, or lack thereof, on their part. Seeking professional help can also include family therapy sessions between the afflicted and those they hold near. A lot of damage has been done, no matter what the addiction is. It takes time to rebuild a trusting relationship, and professional help can help to pave that road in the right direction. A big part of a recovery based life, is changing “old people, places, and things”, so to speak. The group experience in treatment can serve a person as practice for building healthy relationships with those around them, though in most cases, life long bonds are built in the treatment process due to the common struggle amongst peers. At the least bit, peer relationships in treatment and the behaviors learned carry through to real life experiences post-treatment.

· Aftercare: Professional treatment programs will often offer or refer a patient to an aftercare program to follow up with after the initial phase of treatment, to ensure the patient has ongoing assistance during the early stages of their recovery process. This may entail an intensive outpatient program or an individual therapist to meet with and continue the therapy process. Generally speaking, the highest rate for relapse into old behaviors is within the first 3-12 months of recovery, so this is just an added measure of accountability and growth during that period of time. This can also include involvement in a 12 step fellowship, a faith based fellowship, or any other type of outside support group. At this point in someone’s recovery, accountability in the form of a tight knit group of friends, continued group and individual therapy, as well as marriage or family therapy, has been found to be beneficial in long term recovery for the individual.


They say you can get sober anywhere, and I truly believe that, but being in South Florida made it a much smoother process for me. South Florida is commonly known as the recovery capital of the world. With its numerous treatment centers, its wealth of halfway houses, and the strong presence of 12-step fellowship, here in Palm Beach County we exude recovery. We seem to eat, sleep and breathe sobriety. Call me biased, but I really believe that this is the perfect place to get sober.

Recovery is Everywhere

Everyone who worked at the treatment center I attended knew what I was going through, because they had been where I was. They were almost all in recovery, and many of them had attended the very treatment center that they now were employed at – from the Behavioral Health Technicians, the therapists, and even the receptionist. There is something remarkable about sitting across from someone who has been where you are, who knows how it feels, and who has come out the other side and is a happy, sober person freed from the mental obsession of drugs and alcohol. Personally, the only people who have ever gotten through to me are people who experienced the same things as I had.

Whatever your addiction, you will find a twelve-step meeting for it. Be it alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, an eating disorder, sex addiction, codependency, or a combination of the two, here in South Florida we’ve got a meeting for you! There are meetings at literally all times of day, every single day. No matter what hours I work, I can still find the time to get myself to a meeting. I am guaranteed to be within a few miles of a twelve-step meeting wherever I go in Palm Beach County. One 12-step clubhouse hosts over 100 meetings per week!

The community of sober people who scooped me up and made me whole again saved my life. Not just in the rooms of 12-step fellowships, I run into recovered people I know on a daily basis. Whether I’m grocery shopping at Publix, or taking an Uber to work, I seem to run into people in recovery even when I’m not looking for them. It’s inevitable. I run into friendly faces I know from twelve-step meetings literally everywhere I go in Palm Beach County. It’s actually a very comforting feeling.

People Get It

When I first started my journey to recovery, I felt that I was alone in my suffering; that I was the only one in the world who felt those feelings of desperation. When I got to treatment in Florida, I was pleased to find out that I was wrong. I was surrounded by people who knew how it felt. They understood. Not only did they relate to where I was and what I was feeling, they had gotten through it and they got better. These people were smiling, laughing, and genuinely happy and content. They had been through the thick of it and emerged out the other side. They were complete people. They had filled the black hole inside of themselves. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. That little bit of intrigue is what got me to where I am today, it’s been over two years since I’ve picked up a drink or a drug. Seeing so many happy, recovered people made me think “what if I can recover too?”. That tiny thought of “what if?” is all I had when I made my beginning, and I’ve come to learn that’s really all anyone needs.

It’s a Beautiful Place

It’s no wonder why so many people take vacations to Florida so frequently. The sunshine, the warm weather, the beaches, the palm trees, the fresh air; it is an extremely beautiful place. While these things have absolutely nothing to do with recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, it’s certainly nice to have them in our lives. In the moments where I feel disconnected from my spirituality, I am quickly reminded of it by just looking out at the wondrous nature and the beauty of it all.  Beyond that, there are so many activities to do outside here in Florida, it’s hard to isolate and stay inside. Yoga, beach volleyball, surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and even sun-tanning. There is a never-ending list of fun, cost efficient outdoor activities to choose from here in Florida. When I’m not doing 12-step work, I can indulge in the Florida weather and get outside to do something fun.

If we take the necessary action, it’s possible to get sober no matter where we are. Someone close to me likes to say “you can get sober living under a bridge,” and she’s absolutely right. In my opinion, it does, however, make it a little easier if we are surrounded by recovery day in and day out.

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