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How To Stop Taking Drugs — I Had to Learn the Hard Way

If you’re wondering how to stop taking drugs, here’s what you need to know.

I’d like to say first that this is coming from the perspective of a person in recovery. Many people can take drugs and stop taking drugs on their own terms and who aren’t in fact real addicts or alcoholics

This is for the person who has run out of options and has exhausted all of their other options. 

Maybe you’re facing a charge from a DWI or a divorce because you can’t stop using meth. Everything around you gets destroyed because you’re like a tornado of self-destruction.

The first time I used drugs or alcohol was when I was about 14 years old. It didn’t end well at all straight from the get-go.

I ended up waking up while being butt naked in a bathtub of my own vomit. Pretty cringy, right? 

If you are wondering how to stop taking drugs (assume alcohol is a drug), then perhaps you have experienced the same sort of consequences.

For me, that was just the beginning of a journey down a road that ends in either jail, rehab, or death, which is something I have come very close to.

Today, I am grateful to be happy, healthy, sober, and free. I tried and tried and tried all sorts of methods for years in an attempt to be able to get sober my way and on my terms, but it just never stuck.

I’d always end up flat on my face and close to one of the three destinations I just mentioned.

Here is my personal experience on how to stop taking drugs.

How to Stop Taking Drugs — First, Recognize Powerlessness

Again, this is coming from my own experience. I encourage you to try to find similarities between your story and mine.

For about 5 or 6 years, my life pretty much consisted of constantly trying to keep this giant and house of cards from collapsing. I would get sober, relapse, go to treatment, get sober, relapse, go to jail, etc. 

I remember when I was 21 years old, which is when I checked myself into my first long-term inpatient rehab center. This one, in particular, was called Valley Hope in Grapevine, Texas.

I thought it was such a big deal that I did that of my own volition, almost as though I deserved an award or something. Upon my first couple of weeks in there, I would get called out about that false narrative of deserving an award and felt a lot more humbled. 

I was obviously not humble enough because I had a spiritual experience and believed that it alone would catapult me into long-term sobriety/recovery. I thought that this was how to stop taking drugs, that this is all I needed.

I thought that because I now knew and believed and God, I thought I would be okay if I just smoked weed or took organic psychedelics, or plant medicine as I called it.

With this deception that I now had self-control since I had God, who had restored me to sanity as it says in the 12 steps, I went on to go to school to be a substance abuse counselor and believed at this point that I knew everything you could possibly know about drug addiction.

I believed that this self-knowledge too was going to keep me in a place where I could control my drug use because I now knew how to stop taking drugs.

I Didn’t Know How to Stop Taking Drugs

I ended up eventually being escorted to a psych ward in handcuffs, destroying my relationship with my fiance, and being resuscitated in an ambulance, and opening my eyes to find my Dad crying and grasping ahold of my left hand.

I’ll never get that image out of my head for the rest of my life. 

It wasn’t until I hit this hard bottom and lost everything that I finally bought into the concept of being completely powerless over drugs and alcohol, and that if I put them in my body, I WOULD NOT STOP until I hit a brick wall or break out in handcuffs. 

It took a whole lot of pain before I could finally connect the dots that showed all of my life problems were a direct consequence of my drug use, that I had no clue how to stop taking drugs.

There was no way I could keep a job, stay in a healthy relationship, or even be able to have a shot at just staying alive if I chose to go back down that hellish nightmare of a road. 

Hopefully, through my experience, you can identify powerlessness over drugs and alcohol in your own life.

This is the first step of alcoholics anonymous. Without it, there is no way for a man or woman who has an issue with addiction to be able to stay sober for any given length of time. 

Stepping Into A Life of Rigorous Action

Because I had been to so many different 12 step treatment centers and had been to so many AA meetings, I thought that I might know how to stop taking drugs the right way.

I knew that if I didn’t go to a meeting, get a sponsor, and do whatever it is that he told me, the likelihood of me staying sober or alive was extremely slim. 

There were no other options at this point, and quite frankly, I had never personally met a person like me with a substance abuse disorder who was able to stay and maintain sobriety without being involved in the recovery community and actively working the 12 steps.

I would hear things such as “you have to stay in the middle of the herd!”

Because at this point I was fully dependent on opiates and was going through a gnarly withdrawal and couldn’t seem to stop using due to the physiological pain, my sponsor advised that I go back to treatment, mainly to just create a dynamic for me where using flat out just couldn’t be an option.

Unless I of course smuggled drugs into the rehab.

At this point, I really wanted this, and I was ready to absolutely do whatever it would take in order to get this crap figured out so I could live my life, shining and staying in the light. 

I stayed at this 12-step-based rehab for 60 days. While in detox, the doctor was able to safely taper me down off opiates and monitor my body while I detoxed from some of the other drugs I was coming off of.

If you’re wondering how to stop taking drugs, pay attention here — I really recommend doing the same if you are using the way that I was and just can’t seem to get through the withdrawal process. 

A Life Built Around Service

Upon discharge and return back home to Texas from Salt Lake City, where treatment was, I started working the 12 steps with my sponsor that are outlined in what we call the “big book” or the book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

We read the first 164 pages of that book together and worked the steps exactly how they were outlined in those first 164 pages.

Getting a sponsor was the turning point in my recovery journey. Up until this point, I always thought I could do it on my own, but it always availed nothing. 

The 12 steps are built around being of service. Once I completed them, I was then able to start sponsoring other men and taking them through the same process that my sponsor took me through.

Your sponsees don’t always stay sober, but for whatever reason, there is no better recovery insurance than being of service to another drug addict or alcoholic. 

I am so grateful for my recovery today and wouldn’t change a single part of my journey so far. I encourage you to search deep inside yourself in recognizing powerlessness if that is something that you are coming up against.

Hopefully, my experience on how to stop taking drugs was helpful and will allow light to be shined upon your own.

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Soapkate
Soapkate
8 days ago

Thanks for this. It’s very interesting to read about how important the 12 steps were for you, in particular that of Service. Everything I research about true recovery points in this direction. It seems to be the only way that truly works for the most severe cases of addiction. My relationship with an alcoholic has been destroyed by the disease. What I have observed, sadly is a lack of humility, a victim mentality, a lack of service to others, all leading to repeated relapse. I’m not being judgemental, it is just my honest observation. And I myself have had to finally admit my powerlessness over the disease. Right now I’m on step 4.

Adam Fout
Adam Fout (@adam)
8 days ago
Reply to  Soapkate

So glad to see you moving through the steps. You can do this. Be proud that you’re doing the work.

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Ryan Henderson

Ryan Henderson is a magician and mental health advocate.