The greatest hindrance to addiction-recovery is in the way we think. As a recovering addict, myself, I can affirm just how crazy our thinking can be.
Einstein once said;
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results"
And yet, Addict's are notorious for doing the same things over & over, THINKING, "This time will be different".
Usually, the situation is different for a short-time, but disaster always returns! Sounds like bad-luck? It's not, it's as as simple as an inability for the Addict to deal with life-difficulties.
Until an addict can learn how to THINK differently, they will continue to make wrong decisions.
The best illustration of wrong thinking is in how an addict deals with each down-turn. Or rather, the decisions we make every time we screw-up and then try to put things back together, again.
But first, you must understand the predictable cycles of the addiction process;
- All is good
- Don't make waves
- Keeping life simple
- Go-along-to-get along
However, this phase doesn't last long. Each addict has their own pattern, usually between 1-6 months.
The addict becomes more restless and defiant. Old attitudes are returning. Blame their own deficiencies or lack of progress on everyone else.
Become more secretive and allusive.
The more the anxiety builds, the more checked-out they become.
THINKING about drinking or using becomes an every day ordeal.
The addict may still pretend that "everything is fine", but the family can see otherwise. (This is familiar territory with families)
Crisis is around the corner...
- Become more angry / entitled
- Believe other's are to blame for their own situation
- Losing job- quitting job because the boss "doesn't know what he's doing"
- Overreact to small issues
They begin to THINK that drinking or using "just a little" will be fine. Even think of it as a reward for 'all they have to endure', or, "just need to get through a particular situation" (even though this has never worked out long-term).
Families know this story, well.
Drinking/using begins secretively, as the addict thinks he/she can control it.
Eventually, the chaos has returned- addiction is in full force.
Which means, job, money, relationships are all gone, or, about to be, very quickly.
This phase can end very ugly, including, legal problems, abuse, and, homelessness and even, overdoses.
This is what we call the "Crash & Burn" part.
What comes next can be as shocking as the actual active-addiction part...
- Wrong thinking across the board
- Thinking at this stage is based solely on emotions and gaining relief
- Thinking is not based on anything that resembles logic.
- Just want to change the situation
The problem with this THINKING is that it takes over all rationale and logic while keeping all decisions centered on how it will make them feel.
Once the active-addiction part has run it's course (assuming the person survived it), now comes the most insane THINKING;
Alright, read this very carefully because what I'm about to say it at the core of why ALL addicts continue to self-destruct, even though they exhibit every intention of "doing it right this time"...
Here it is: Once a little sobriety is achieved (typically a few hours to a few days), the Addict immediately begins making plans to repeat the exact same scenario they just barely lived-through.
By seeking to change their situation! Making any internal or behavioral changes is never up discussion. Doesn't even cross their mind.
The Addict's THINKING is:
- I just need to get back to work (new situation)
- I just need my family to get me a car (new situation)
- I just need somebody to set me up in a new apartment (new situation)
- I just need to get back to school (new situation)
- I just need to get a different girl/boyfriend (new situation)
- I just need to save-up some money (new situation)
- I promise I'll go to those AA meetings (new situation)
- I just need to get a sponsor (new situation)
Families are traditionally taken-in at this point because the Addict appears to be so serious and highly motivated to succeed "this time" (which is often the case).
However, something critical is missing. THE ABILITY TO MAKE RIGHT DECISIONS!
What is never addressed is investing time into to learning HOW to live within any given-situation, without self-destructing!
You see, the Addict didn't go sideways once they started drinking or using. They went sideways early in Phase one when they didn't know how to handle the life-situations that caused so much un-rest, in the first place.
"If the Addict had within them-self to solve his/her own problems, they would've done it by now"!
Addicts fall apart because of their THINKING
The Addict in the above scenario didn't fall apart because life got soooo crazy. They fell apart because they didn't know how to handle normal life-experiences in healthy ways!
Now, that's obviously a simplistic explanation, and, of course, there's much more at play.
However, the way the Addict THINKS is what leads to all the wrong decisions.
As much as every Addict wants their Families to believe they have unique and troubling life-experiences, they simply don't.
Addict's simply have not developed the ability to deal with their own emotions in healthy ways during difficult situations. Further, a "difficult situation" can be defined as ANY situation where the Addict is not getting something they want/need, such as;
Examples of not getting something they want/need:
- Unconditional love
- Security (emotional)
- Safety (emotional)
The Addict THINKS from a perspective of self;
- How I feel
- What do people think of me
- Why can't I have...
- When do I get to...
Keeps the Addict focused on feelings
The Addict makes decisions based on what will give the greatest sense of relief, quick fixes, and, burying shame as quicky as possible.
Even though an Addict can recognize the chaos and destruction of their own (much shame), they will always choose what's easiest and what brings the quickest sense of relief.
Convincing themself with each cycle, that "This time will be different". Although nothing new or significant has been added to the formula.
The Addict believes he/she is making sufficient adjustments by choosing a different job, or perhaps living in a different neighborhood.
All decisions are focused on changing the Addict's situation.
Until the Addict (and families) seek solutions that mostly involve behavioral changes, emotional regulation, reorganization of the thought-processes, and new behavioral responses, little, if anything, will change for the Addict.
Changing situations won't cut it!
The Addict's own history proves this, Just take an honest look at the past cycles and how each time, with mostly situational changes, the Addict eventually returned to drinking and using.
It's not your fault, it's the only way the Addict knows how to live. What really needs to happen is for the Addict to learn a new way of living! A new default, if you will.
Poor behavioral responses have developed over a long period due to inabilities to respond properly to life's difficulties...No one wakes up one day and thinks' "hmmm, I think I'll start using drugs this week".
The choice to drink & use drugs becomes the result of not having the knowledge, skills, or emotional capacity to deal with life in effective, productive, and appropriate ways.
These poor responses have become bad habits. Some would say "drug habits". We like to call them "poor life habits".
Beginning the process of recovery requires a commitment to learn new things, willingness to work through old traumas, and how to respond differently to normal life-situations
Keep in mind, the use of drugs or alcohol is merely a symptom of deeper internal issues, perhaps a childhood trauma, or, the shame of disappointing a parent, or, failing to make the school team, or, feeling uncomfortable with the changes our bodies encounter during adolescence...
It's not unusual, many addicts, raised in otherwise thriving environments still have a low self-image. Addiction is not the fault of anyone so stop looking in that direction (parent's guilt)
It is absolutely essential that one in recovery learn and practice 12 step principles, but, the user must also participate in the process of healing old hurts.
Many times, a person may build up resentments or shame from specific events in their life they no longer recognize. If asked, "why so angry, or sad", they honestly can't explain it.
The point I'm making is that when we all face real life struggles, without the skills and knowledge to handle the really tough stuff; using drugs, alcohol, anger, isolation, defiance, manipulation, running away, etc. seems like a pretty good solution at the time.
Of course, all of these maladaptive behavioral responses will continue to lead us away from our potential. The good news is You don't have to live that way any longer.
People who get involved with drugs or alcohol truly have no idea what they're getting themselves into and certainly no idea of how to reverse that process once it has begun. They move deeper and deeper into a world that is dark and isolated from the dreams and desires they may have had as a younger child. You may even feel that your family member is already fully addicted.
Call for help today!
Whether you call us or someone else, I urge you to call for help today!
A peaceful life is closer than you think -
- Emotionally &
There may not be much of your old life you wish to hang onto.
Immediate relief can be achieved by practicing very simple & basic techniques and principles "If you'll do one thing different today, something different will happen".
Call today and tell us your story