For Addiction Recovery, “Easier” Might not Be “Better”

The Road Not Taken, a poem penned by Robert Frost in 1916, creatively describes why taking an easier road is not always better. It ends as follows “. . . Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Recovering from a substance use disorder (SUD) is one of the most difficult and time-consuming challenges that a person can face. A substance addicted individual not only has to break the habit of taking their drug of choice, they must tear themselves away from a way of life.

Alcohol is still the most widely abused drug, and consider how many times each day someone in recovery from alcoholism faces the opportunity to easily purchase an alcoholic beverage.

Facing Addiction Head-on by Getting Long-Term Clinical Help

Even if the drug use is dangerous and destructive, admitting to a rehab program and adhering to its processes is difficult. Adopting behavioral changes at this scale is not easy, despite the support of caring counselors.

Statistically, people who go to rehab do not stay sober for the long-term. The majority of rehab patients complete a regimen of a few days to several weeks, and then discharge, often back to their “normal life.”

The much more successful program is to continue receiving clinical support for your substance abuse recovery for as long as possible, up to a year (or longer) is recommended. Many people cannot or will not commit to this length of treatment.

However, if you choose to travel down this difficult ‘less-traveled’ path toward recovery, you will be more likely to achieve long-term recovery, and have a more fulfilling life. You need to be willing to put forth the effort to get your life back on track.

Making Sobriety a Daily Habit Requires Reinforcement

Getting sober and staying that way turns into a daily practice – one that the recovering person needs to commit to fully. This lifestyle is aided by having a sobriety support system. Some have said “it is easy to stop, the problem is not starting again.” The meaning of this  saying  is that initial sobriety can be somewhat easy to achieve for someone who is truly beat down by their drug use. However, once they start getting their life back, and they forget the difficulties that the drugs brought them, daily stresses and old habits can creep back in and lead to a relapse.

Relapsing is less of an option when you are frequently involved in 12-step meetings, and interfacing with a drug counselor. It is worth making these commitments to reinforce your sobriety.

Change is Not Easy, But It’s Worth It

Drug users become physically and mentally addicted to their substance of choice as a means of coping with the stresses of life. To take ‘the road less traveled,’ the individual should find new and better ways to cope. This is a challenging undertaking and where professional help (and long-term support) can be of great assistance. 

Don’t stay as you are because it is easier. Instead of masking problems in your life with drug use, address the problems with the help of a professional counselor.  Work with professional clinician to develop a recovery plan, participate in the recovery community, and take responsibility for making the change.

Helping Someone Find Their Own Solution

Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it can be very hard to instigate this change for oneself. Denial can be a huge barrier. This is why intervention is such a popular starting point on the path of recovery.

During an intervention, the loved ones of the person in need of help work together with an interventionist to plan a meeting with the individual to share their concerns and offer assistance (in the form of professional addiction treatment).  The intervention should be cooperative process, and one through which the suffering individual becomes motivated to change and is offered “a way out.”

Part of the intervention process is obtaining commitments from all the participants to not further enable the drug use, regardless of the outcome of the intervention.  Stopping these enabling behaviors can also be seen as taking “the harder path” as well, because it is hard for loved ones saying “no.”

Get Help to Make Recovery a Reality

Rehab can be life-saving. Drug and alcohol users have a lower life expectancy than the general population. We are in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic that is claiming 270 lives per day in this country. Drug overdoses now outnumber car accidents as the primary cause of preventable mortality in the United States.

You or your loved one has a life worth living, no matter how hopeless you or they feel right now. Learning how to live a sober life starts by getting help. Use the SAMHSA treatment finder to provide provider in your area. The relief will be immediate, because you will know that you have started down the right path.

About the Author

Scott H. Silverman has been facilitating interventions in San Diego for many years.  He is the CEO of Confidential Recovery, an outpatient addiction treatment program in San Diego.