When you participate in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or any other 12-Step program, you hear a lot of scary and extreme information about addiction. For example, has anyone ever told you that your addiction is "doing push-ups in the parking lot"? This common expression is an anthropomorphism with harmful consequences, and Saint Jude Retreats can help you deconstruct and understand exactly why it isn't true.
When you ascribe human characteristics to addiction, it can seem like a scary, strong, and independent force that controls your behaviors. This idea aligns with the traditional 12-Step definition of addiction: a lifelong disease that 12 Step programs state will always be one step ahead of you. However, this threat is unnecessary and exaggerated, because even legitimate medical diseases aren't personified to this extent.
For example, aggressive diseases like cancer actually do seize control over your body, but oncologists don't suggest to patients that their tumors are in training to get as big and strong as possible. If addiction were truly a disease, the race to outdo it would be futile, and using substances would be a symptom, rather than a choice. This idea is dangerous because it tells substance users that there's very little they can do to change their desires, behaviors, or self-image and this is simply not true.
In reality, substance use is merely a habit that may or may not affect you in negative ways. If you continue to seek drugs or alcohol even after you've decided not to, it could be that you're still not dealing with life in the most productive ways. However, it doesn't mean your addiction strong-armed its way into your consciousness and forced you to choose short-term effects over long-term success. It just means you still have some work to do.
Addiction isn't a cunning predator that's waiting to cause another relapse nor is it determined to make your sobriety as difficult as possible. Addiction doesn't really exist but substance use does. Substance use is a behavior that you — and only you — can control. Once you're committed to a goal of sobriety or moderation in your substance use, no habit or substance is actually capable of plotting against you or preventing your progress.
Rather than living in fear and paranoia, our guests learn that they have complete control over their futures. If they previously used drugs to avoid dealing with painful emotions, they don't blame that behavior on the strength of addiction. Instead, they acknowledge that there were other options available to them, which they ignored or avoided in favor of a short-term high.
If you're struggling to avoid drugs or alcohol, only you can figure out why they're so appealing. Rather than replacing, removing, or delaying dealing with issues with a substance, maybe you could explore ways to confront your issues head-on and resolve them.
Dealing with life issues and strengthening your self-image isn't always easy, but it's important to remember that it's possible. Instead of imagining a shadowy force doing push-ups to overcome you, you should recognize and build your own inner strength, which is both real and always accessible to you. As you become aware of your ability to control your thought patterns, decisions, and choices, you will be more in awe of the power you hold within.
Rather than remaining concerned about imaginary parking lot predators, you can find out more about your own ability to change your substance habits and your life to a more fulfilling and happy path based on your specific wants and circumstances. If you would like to know more about Saint Jude Retreats programs, call one of our Family Consultants for further information today.
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