Addiction affects people of every age. While it’s most common for people to develop substance use disorders before the age of 25, plenty of individuals develop substance use issues later in life. For example, it’s common for the elderly to develop drug and/or alcohol use disorder while trying to cope with the death of a spouse. And with the opioid crisis, many people who hadn’t previously had a problem with drugs and/or alcohol suddenly found themselves addicted to opioids after a medical intervention. Regardless of the age at which a substance use disorder is developed, the struggle with addiction that takes place, as a result, can go on for years and even decades.
It’s not uncommon for those who have struggled with substance use for a long time to feel like it may be too late for them to recover. Maybe they feel like they’re too old to start over or that they’ve been addicted for too long to ever be able to escape it. Perhaps they feel like getting help now would be like shutting the barn door after the horse has run away. Maybe their spouse has already left or they’ve already been fired and they feel like the damage is done and irreparable. Often, individuals struggling with substance use disorders find themselves battling with nagging questions like “Why stop now?” and “Is it too late to quit?” As long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to quit. Here’s why.
Quitting Never Feels Easy
First, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Quitting never feels easy for anyone, but it is possible. Addiction is a compulsive behavior and it often feels like you need to drink and/or use on a cellular level. Individuals with substance use disorders can’t just flip a switch and stop being addicted. Additionally, people of different ages experience different challenges and advantages when it comes to sobriety.
Getting Sober Younger
Those getting sober younger might have the advantage of having spent less time reinforcing addictive behavior but younger people have several disadvantages as well. For example, the human brain isn’t fully developed until about 25 years of age and the prefrontal cortex is the last area of the brain to mature. Consequently, younger people physiologically have less foresight, self-control, and emotional regulation, which makes maintaining sobriety much more difficult.
Getting Sober Older
Older people may have more ingrained habits but they also have more life experience and emotional maturity. Something that might seem catastrophic to a young person might not feel like as big of a deal for someone who has been around a while. Challenges exist regardless of what age you decide to get sober. However, quitting won’t be any easier next month or next year. Starting now can save you a lifetime’s worth of pain and suffering.
Sobriety Is Always a Daily Commitment
Many people believe that if they had gotten sober 10 or 20 years ago, their lives would be easy now. At the very least, sobriety would be easier. Often, viewing things from this perspective leads people to feel defeated by the perceived obstacles to recovery before they even start. Overwhelmed by the belief that getting sober now would mean a daily struggle for the foreseeable future, many individuals don’t give themselves a fair chance. Recovery from substance use typically takes a persistent effort no matter how long you have been sober. It’s true that it does tend to get easier. Typically, this is due simply to practice and routine. New things are always difficult. However, with consistency and commitment, you will find your recovery ‘groove,’ so to speak.
Finding Your Recovery ‘Groove’
Whether you’ve been sober for days or decades, everyone occasionally experiences cravings. Relapse prevention includes a daily commitment to your recovery actions. While the needs of your sobriety may change and evolve with time, prioritizing to meet those daily recovery needs above all else will ensure your ability to maintain long-term sobriety. Maybe you use a combination of 12-step meetings, sponsorship, social support, health, and hobbies to create your well-rounded recovery. Whatever you choose, find what works for you and commit to incorporating these things into your daily practice. Eventually, this will become habitual and the temptation of using drugs and/or alcohol will subside.
Even If You’ve Failed Before, You Can Still Succeed
People often feel like getting sober is just too hard. Having tried to get sober before and failed tends to strengthen this perspective. A relapse can be deeply defeating and demoralizing. After putting so much work into your sobriety and getting your hopes up–as well as the hopes of your friends and family–experiencing a relapse can lead to feelings of hopelessness and shame. If you are in the middle of a relapse currently or have experienced one recently, it is important to know that relapse is common and you are not alone. Between 40 and 60 percent of people relapse within a year of leaving treatment.
Don’t Give up on Yourself
Even if you have failed before, it’s worth making the effort to try again. For example, if you had type 2 diabetes, you wouldn’t throw up your hands just because you had a piece of cake. You would try to do better next time because it has a real impact on your quality of life. The same is true for addiction. Additionally, relapse doesn’t necessarily mean failure. A lot of awareness can be gained from taking honest inventory on a relapse if you are open to learning. Through seeking this insight, you can build a more sustainable plan for your next attempt at recovery. Nothing worth doing comes easy, and there are many failures on the road to success. Don’t give up on yourself!
Addiction Is About More Than the Substance
Typically, addiction is about much more than the substance alone. More than half of people with substance use disorders also have undiagnosed co-occurring mental health issues. Drugs and alcohol are frequently just a symptom of another problem, such as childhood abuse, depression, anxiety, trauma, and other issues. Getting help for substance use may also provide you with the opportunity to resolve these long-standing issues towards living a life of freedom and happiness.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Hired Power and our team of dynamic, experienced recovery professionals are here to guide towards recovery. We offer many services, including interventions, sober monitoring, and personal recovery assistants. At Hired Power, we are committed to helping you choose the treatment and/or transitional program that will best meet your needs. Call us today for more information on our recovery services at 714-559-3919.