Over the course of the last 30 years of helping people move past addiction, I’ve come to see certain patterns in the conversations I’ve had with those who struggle. For example, a common discussion I have with our guests at the Saint Jude Retreats includes the fact that when asked, very few actually agree with the disease concept of addiction. They know that choosing to get drunk and/or high is a lot different than contracting a disease over which they have no control. Yet, when pushed, they will defend the idea that they lose control over their consumption, which is saying the same thing as being diseased. On the one side they know they don’t have a disease, but on the other, they believe they are out of control of their actions in regards to substances. Being enslaved to a substance (losing control) is akin to being overwhelmed by a virus; in other words they are agreeing with the addiction disease concept. Without realizing it, they have fallen prey to the disease concept mythology by believing in the more culturally palatable idea of loss of control. These conversations continually highlight how influential our cultural beliefs are, especially in the recovery realm.
Here is why this is important: people who shoot down the disease concept will also in the same breath, say they are in recovery from addiction. The problem with this is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say the disease is a farce while also believing you need to recover from it or worse yet, be recovering from it forever. So if you know the disease is nonsense, well then, it is time to abandon the perpetual recovery charade as well.
If it’s that simple, then why is it so difficult to let go of recovery? Why do people feel the need to identify as a “recovering addict” or as “a person in recovery”? For many, their allegiance to the recovery subculture is as simple as they never realized they were casting themselves right back into the disease pond by identifying as a person in recovery. It’s a matter of believing in the loss of control mythology, but rejecting the disease labeling of it. Recovery rhetoric and labeling is so commonplace in our society now that it’s easy to fall into the trap without carefully parsing out this important factor. Recovery is the answer to a disease. Without a disease, there is nothing to recover from. With this said people then ask themselves, “Well if I’m not in recovery, and I no longer get wasted, where do I fit in?” This question gets to the heart of the matter: Freedom, true unencumbered freedom from the construct of recovery, scares people.
Recovery is a comforting concept on some levels. It allows people the distraction of focusing on a battle: a battle with cravings, a battle with past traumas, a battle with stress and anxiety and all the other parts that make up the whole we call recovery. The idea of letting these battles go; letting them die in the past; not giving them continued space in our minds, takes away the distraction value they provide. What do I mean by distraction value? If you have moved past addiction completely, then you know there is no battle to be waged, there are just choices to be made. When this reality hits home, no recovery is needed, and you can concentrate on a battle-less life. With nothing to fight, there is only one path to take – that is, to forge a new lifestyle without any distraction to that path. People have become so used to being told they need to struggle, that the struggle itself defines them and distracts them from real life progress. You see, with life progress comes new risks; risks of building new careers, relationships, and interests. It takes effort, but the upsides are huge. The cocoon of recovery distracts you from these new avenues. Instead of moving forward, your mental gaze stays focused on addiction and its role in your past, thusly tying you to it.
Let go of recovery and you have truly let go of addiction and its past role in your life. The two concepts need each other for their continued presence in your life. If you truly let go of the disease ideal, and you know loss of control is a myth, you can then let go of recovery as well. Then you will be free to live a new life that has no past labels dictating your present and future.
We have helped thousands learn to move past addiction and recovery for good in our residential program at The Saint Jude Retreat. Call us today to learn more about our life saving program. If you need help debunking the loss of control myth, the disease of addiction myth, or the need for recovery myth, then read The Freedom Model for Addictions. We wrote it to free people from the charade of disease based addiction and its stable mate, endless recovery. It’s time to be truly free, and move on!