A New Year and a New Start in Addiction Recovery

December 31, 2012 Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

It’s January 1st and it’s a new year. Many people have decided that today will be the day for a fresh start when it comes to addressing issues of addictive behaviors. As for me, it’s simply another day. I don’t mean to downplay the idea of New Year resolutions but I just think that any day we choose can be a new beginning.

Facing the Consequences

To me it all comes down to taking a good hard look at one’s life and recognizing how drugs, alcohol and other addictions have had a negative impact. This isn’t always easy. Denial can often be a major impediment in the quest for a clean and sober life. In addition, the progressive nature of addiction can be so devastating that the user does not see any way out of the living hell that this lifestyle can produce.

But despite the horrible consequences of addiction, I do believe that hope is possible. When I was caught up in the grips of this horrible disease I was still somehow able to have the hope that a better life was possible. I had endured years of mental and emotional anguish combined with a co-occurring bipolar diagnosis. For me, the first step was recognizing that my life had become completely unmanageable and that I had no control over my chemical use. It was with this knowledge that I was able to admit that I needed help. For me, the date was January 17, 1988 and I haven’t picked up a drink or drug since. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this much time has passed, but you know what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

Addiction: The Feelings Disease

When I look back on my active addiction I am able to realize that so much of it revolved around the desire to change the way I felt by consuming drugs and alcohol. I mean, isn’t that what drugs do? I’m tired, so I will take this drug to make me feel “up.” I’m wired, so I’ll use this drug to help me to wind down. It’s Friday, so that means it’s time to party with my friends. There are any numbers of excuses we can use to rationalize our using.

Help Is Avaliable

So what can we do if we feel we are ready to surrender to our addiction? Help is available. 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) , as well as other support groups like Secular Order for Sobriety (SOS) have helped millions to find a better way. Others have found support through spiritual organizations or formal inpatient/outpatient treatment. Just remember, you don’t have to fight your addiction all alone. There is a better way. So, whether you decide on January 1st or July 1st, the choice is yours.

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2012, December 31). A New Year and a New Start in Addiction Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 12 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

January, 4 2013 at 12:02 pm

Hi, I've been in Al-Anon for 18yrs, i have a sober, recovering husband, but am still stuck in a relationship with my brother who is a Meth addict!!! I have just watched a clip where the person doing the intervention spoke about taking the softer approach and not that of tough love, please can you give me some info on this method, my brother is still very much in denial and does not think he needs help......regards desiree

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 6 2013 at 10:55 am

Desiree - I believe that there is a fine line between tough love and the "softer approach" you mention. It is important not to enable the addict. What I mean is that sometimes he may need to deal with the consequences of his using despite how hard it is to watch happen. Denial can be very difficult to deal with and usually it requires that the addict must find out for themselves, one way or another, that the behavior is destructive.
I also believe that we can still love the addict but not put up with the behavior. This usually means setting limits and not allowing the addict's behavior to create so much dysfunction that our sense of well-being is disrupted.
Finally, I'm sure you know this already but you have to take care of yourself.
I wish you the best in the days to come.

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