Getting Sober: Why Overcoming Addiction On Your Own Is Totally Possible

Recovery is possible, but you have to put in the work to move past addiction.

Overcoming addiction, road to recovery  smshoot, Srdjanns74, Maridav | Canva

Overcoming addiction is not impossible. It is hard, yes, but impossible, no. Whether you battle with drug addiction, alcoholism, or another type of addiction, or if you want to fight for your mental health, happiness, and sobriety, then yes, you can do it.

Overcoming addiction on your own is possible. However, there are some commonalities among those who have succeeded. Whatever road to recovery you choose, you have to put in the work and move past addiction into sobriety.


RELATED: Mom Decides To Share Her Story And ‘Recover Out Loud’ To Help Reduce Stigma Around Addiction

Here's why overcoming addiction on your own is possible:

1. Addiction is not incurable.

Robert DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “Addiction is not self-curing. Left alone, addiction only gets worse, leading to total degradation, to prison, and ultimately to death.”


However, the New Zealand Drug Foundation reports that more people quit addictions than maintain them. Current research indicates that addiction is intractable due to the automatic patterns of behavior triggered by neurologic changes. Quitting an addiction is not impossible, though it is hard and may take several tries.

Success doesn’t come from wishing. It comes from realizing you need to change because the addiction interferes too much with something you value. Your addiction becomes a competing action to something you no longer wish to risk or destroy.

This desire sparks momentum. And with that momentum comes the confidence to take the first steps and keep going, no matter what.

So, how do you get started?


2. Treatment centers and 12-step programs are not the only way to be sober.

Common knowledge suggests the only way to recover from addiction is to see an addiction counselor, enter a treatment center, join a 12-step program, or take medications to reduce cravings. However, some people overcome addiction without such help.

The results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey suggest that formal treatment is not a cure-all for addiction, and it isn’t even necessary. Of those who responded to the survey, three-quarters recovered without going to treatment centers.

Maybe the non-confrontational approaches encourage self-chosen change to allow addicts to adapt and overcome addiction.

RELATED: 4 Positive 'Addictions' You Should Indulge In That Make Your Life More Meaningful


3. There is a natural remission in addiction.

Typical hallmarks of those who experience natural remission in addiction:

They want it bad enough that they are willing to face the challenge and adapt to each success and failure. Some challenges include coping with withdrawal symptoms, avoiding and coping with relapse, controlling behaviors, avoiding replacement addiction, and navigating changes in your relationship with friends and family.

Whether on their own or with support, they succeed with an approach that offers positive reinforcement rather than degradation or humiliation at lapses.

They find a new hobby, challenge, or healthy relationship to help fill the emptiness or void left by the addiction. Having a purpose beyond addiction can help provide meaning in your life.


They also tend to begin exercising and become more active. An active lifestyle is vital to health because it is a natural antidepressant and relieves stress. Also, exercise releases endorphins, which trigger your brain’s natural reward pathway, promoting a sense of well-being.

Some, or better yet, all of these lead to reinvestment in yourself, a confidence boost, and engagement in a new community.

A special note on hobbies and finding your community: Choices should not involve the object of addiction or reminders of your addiction if you genuinely want to recover.

As you work toward recovery, you will find inevitable social, environmental, or emotional situations that remind you of your drug or alcohol use. These triggers may create a craving that leads to relapse.


Learning to cope with these triggers successfully is part of the recovery journey. Be prepared for when you might faced by learning more about triggers, relapses, and how to work through them.

RELATED: The Hidden Truth About Addiction That Mental Health Professionals Won't Tell You

4. You can work with a mental health addiction counselor.

Using these tips won’t mean you will quit without problems. Addiction is hard to overcome, and statistically, you're likely to struggle and “fail” a few times. However, failure means a lesson learned, and each recovery attempt is more likely to succeed.

However, the more severe and complicated your addiction, the harder it is to overcome on your own because of other psychological components that make your addiction complex. These can include depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.


The symptoms of mental health issues and addiction can make it difficult to manage life’s challenges. This is partially because each co-occurring disorder negatively affects the others.

Substance abuse and mental health issues worsen when ignored. And if you're struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, it can feed your addiction.

This is when it’s best not to overcome addiction on your own. Working with a drug addiction counselor will improve your chances of success, whether you have co-occurring disorders or want to quit on your own.

It’s essential to realize long-term recovery isn’t a destination achieved where you can finally be carefree. Recovery is an ongoing process of successfully facing and coping with what life throws at you.


This isn’t unique to recovering people — everyone experiences the slings and arrows of everyday life. Successful recovery takes a continuing commitment, especially during times of stress.

If you're beginning your recovery journey or struggling to stay sober, you can ask for help instead of engaging with your addiction.

RELATED: 8 Honest Reasons People Relapse When They're Finally Sober & Things Are Going Well

Drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly common.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that approximately 20.3 million people above the age of 12 have suffered from a substance use disorder in the past year. According to SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 2 million people of the same age bracket have suffered from opioid use disorders and 14.8 million from alcohol use disorders.


Misusing alcohol and other drugs can be both detrimental to your immediate and long-term physical, emotional, and mental health.

Alcohol and drug addiction is something to take seriously, although often overlooked. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender can suffer from alcohol and drug addiction. Recovering from an addiction is more than just abstaining from drugs or alcohol. It’s about investigating the internal framework of your brain, rewiring your thought patterns, and actively changing behaviors over a long period of time.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, there are resources to get help.

The process of recovery is not linear, but the first step to getting better is asking for help. For more information, referrals to local treatment facilities and support groups, and relevant links, visit SAMHSA’s website. If you’d like to join a recovery support group, you can locate the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings near you. Or you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-799-7233, which is a free 24/7 confidential information service in both English and Spanish. For TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, call 1-800-487-4889.

Jean Tschampa is a co-owner and principal therapist at Life Care Wellness, a group psychotherapy practice. She specializes in wellness, life transition, anxiety, and addiction treatment, and is a Board Certified Coach and professional counselor.