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Constructive Self Image

Chapter 10: The Freedom Model

Even if you dislike and reject the label of addict or alcoholic, you may still have a self-image that is synonymous with what these labels represent. That is, you may see yourself as being saddled with powerful urges, impulses, and cravings that you are too weak to overcome. You may see yourself as hardwired to need substances to feel normal. You may see yourself as having a genetic deficiency that causes you to crave and lose control. You may see yourself as being unable to resist temptation. You may see yourself as morally deficient in some way that causes your heavy substance use, or as having personality and character traits that cannot be changed, and which always lead you back into heavy substance use or other "addictions" - an "addictive personality." You may see yourself as being fundamentally incapable of being happy without heavy substance use; as needing an "escape" that only substances can provide. Worst of all, you may have no working theory on why you keep using substances problematically, yet you believe that there's something fundamentally unchangeable about you that causes it. Whether you agree with the labels or not, it's the harboring of this negative self-image that causes you to feel so discouraged.

A substantial body of psychological research has demonstrated that your fundamental beliefs about yourself (your self-image) wield massive influence over your life. This research demonstrates that by changing the way you think and see yourself you can literally change who you are. At the same time, the idea that people are born with genetically predetermined personality types, character traits, levels of intelligence, and talents, has been accepted by our culture. However in recent years it is being challenged by researchers who've shown that people can and do change.

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