Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
Believe it or not, and you should because it's true. Many of the causes of addiction are rooted in our childhood upbringing. That's not to say that genetics or environment are totally responsible for someone being addicted, although many addicts use this as an excuse and blame other people and circumstances for their own addiction, when in truth that is just an excuse to continue to indulge their addiction. There is no doubt that genetic and environmental factors can play a part in someone being predisposed to addiction, but that is not and cannot be used as an excuse for the person not to choose recovery. If someone had a heart attack we would not blame them for getting sick. But if after successful heart surgery or other treatment, their Doctor had prescribed a healthy diet and exercise routine that would keep them healthy the rest of their lives, and they purposely chose to ignore it, instead going back to bad eating and poor exercise, then we would definitely blame them for not choosing to be healthy. Because the path to health was there, they are just choosing to ignore it. It's the same with addiction. We do not blame people for becoming addicts, and we understand many times circumstances and issues from their childhood played in role in their susceptibility to addiction However we do blame them (and should blame them) for not taking the necessary action to resolve these issues once they know that there is a problem and there is help available.
As a child we all had defense mechanisms built in us that helped us cope with life as children. These defense mechanisms (our thinking and the way our brain processed stuff) were very helpful and appropriate to us as children, for at that time they helped us cope individually with the circumstances, reality, and experience of childhood. When you were a little baby your mother pushed you around in a stroller because you couldn't walk by yourself. Also when you were a young child you had diapers on, because you had not yet been toilet trained. Now of course it would be absurd to see you walking down the street today as an adult being pushed in a stroller, or wearing diapers. Why? Because you have outgrown these things. Obviously they are no longer necessary. There was a time and place in your life when they were very necessary and they served a very important purpose. But you've outgrown them and they are no longer necessary.
Unfortunately in the lives of some addicts many of the psychological defense mechanisms that they had employed in their mind to help them deal and cope with the realities of life when they were young children have not been placed aside or discarded as they should have been. As well they have not been replaced with healthy, adult thinking. Instead of thanking these defense mechanisms and thoughts for helping us when we needed them as a child and then discarding them as is appropriate for an adult, many addicted people still cling onto them and that is reflected in their addictive behavior. That's why we often see addict’s behavior as childish, selfish, and often think they are acting like a baby…because they are!
One of the great things that an addict will learn in the rehabilitation process (either in a rehab/treatment center or through therapy or possibly in a 12 step program but not as likely) is their own individual reasons for clinging on to these childhood defense mechanisms. They will be able to identify them, which was a critical step for me (I was shocked and surprised when I saw my own childhood defense mechanisms that I was holding onto as an adult) and now having understanding of these things, they will be able to make a choice to put these things aside and move forward and not continue to indulge in their addiction. The key to it is for the addicted person to see the truth and then they can decide what to do with it. Usually most people upon seeing the truth will choose to put aside the past and move forward to a productive, happy, and joyful life. I believe this is a critical piece to an addict’s recovery, and makes for the most successful path to addiction recovery because it is truly a path to freedom.
While there are some people who can overcome their addictive behavior and stop indulging in their addictive behavior without this knowledge and information about how the mind works (what they think and why, in other words understanding the basic traits of all addicts and why addicts think and behave as they do), I don't believe that type of recovery, one of abstinence without finding true peace and happiness, is the best type of recovery. I believe the type of recovery that shows us the truth and allows us to choose freedom and gives us freedom is definitely the way to go. That comes from learning about yourself with the help of others who can show you the way. I pray that is the choice your addicted loved one will make. It was a life- saving and life changing choice for me....
Obviously the first key to recovery is admitting you have a problem. People who do not think they have a problem will not seek help. However the first phase of recovery, (after you have admitted there is a problem) is to focus on a few primary areas. First, make sure that your primary concern is abstinence, not using drugs or alcohol. You have to focus on the things you need to do to make sure that you do not return to old behaviors and triggers that cause you to use drugs and alcohol again. In addition, we want you to start to get educated and gain new knowledge of what addiction is and the effects it causes. Knowledge is power, knowledge is wisdom, with knowledge comes understanding and the ability to change. Then we also want you to begin to learn refusal and coping skills, so you can use these skills to learn to deal with the stress and situations around you that previously had you running to indulge your addictions.
The first phase of recovery can seem overwhelming, but in reality it is not. Just think of it as if you were learning a new language and you heard these foreign words the first time. Of course they seem foreign to you at first because you don't know what they mean or how to use them. It's the same with addiction recovery. Yet as you go and learn, you become familiar with the meanings of the words and you gain understanding. Soon you are speaking a new language, in our case living a new life of recovery. It becomes a natural, reflex action. Then you get all the benefits from it!
The beginning of the recovery journey (Phase 1 as I like to call it) is an exciting phase for those hungry and broken and seeking a better way of life, because they want the information, knowledge and tools necessary to overcome their addiction. For those who do not want to deal with their addiction problem and have not or will not admit their addiction is a problem, Phase 1 is often difficult and full of conflicts, because they are still resisting getting sober. They have not let go of their addiction, they had not surrendered it, it still controls them and they still wish to indulge in it.
It’s not enough to tell addicts that recovery is a better way of life. We must show them how it works. Just as it’s not enough to tell me the computer is a good tool and can make my life easier. You have to teach me how it works for me to get the full benefit of it. It’s the same with recovery.
Now remember, you can have all the information and knowledge you need, but if you don't use it, it's worthless. You get no benefit from it. So the bottom line is it’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do. I will often tell addicted people I am helping that they shouldn't make any promises to their loved ones, friends or employers regarding their stopping their addictions. Why? Because those promises carry no weight anymore. The addicted person has made many promises and has failed to live up to most, if not all of them. Their friends and loved ones and families won’t believe the words anyway. What the friends, families, and loved ones will believe, is seeing a changed life, based on the new actions and behavior of the addicted person....
Over the course of this last year, I really learned about my power and a power greater than myself. A little over nine months ago I was promising my wife in tears that I would never touch heroin or anything else again. I meant it with all of my heart and soul. A lie detector test would have proved me to be telling the truth.
I had just gotten out of a detox and had exchanged numbers with one of the other patients. He called me to come pick him up for a meeting that same evening. So, no problems, right? I tell my wife I’m picking up another addict to go to a meeting. The guy gets in my car and has two loaded syringes ready… there was no second thought. Within moments, I was high. This after truly believing I would never use again. That’s my power. I really learned the definition of powerlessness that night.
After that, there was two weeks of hotels and living in my car and then ending up in another detox. Then two half-way houses. Many of us have been through these journeys. This was definitely not the first time. I had about five years clean and sober in the past, but for the last five years I’d been struggling to put time together. I had been in countless detoxes, half-houses, and rehabs. I just could not stay stopped. That obsession always dogged me. It was the devil.
It was not until the second half-way house that something amazing and profound happened. Although, I was sleeping on the floor, there were ten other guys, there were roaches… There was a lot to complain about, something just struck me. I was in the shower praying because that is about the only place I could get some peace.
While praying I felt a total peace and then I just felt broken. It was as though I was letting everything out. All of my sorrow, pain, and despair… I was giving over to God. That day, I stepped out of that shower a free man. Everything was not going to be alright. Everything was alright! I felt joy. I’d not felt joy in five long years. To this day too, with action, the obsession is gone. It was a cleansing and an awakening. My wife even saw something different and after time I moved home....
By Erika Cormier
Addiction recovery can be a long and complicated process. However, there are several tips to make the journey to long-term sobriety easier:
Work with a treatment specialist or treatment center to get the help and support you need to recover.
Treatment for addiction to alcohol or drugs generally requires professional help to overcome the entrenched habits and behavior patterns of addiction. Begin with a therapist and explore the addiction treatment options for your unique needs....