I’m sure you’ve probably heard the phrase, “I’m so and so, and I’m an Alcoholic” or “ I’m so and so and I’m an Addict” This idea of referring to one’s self as an alcoholic or addict is the standard in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and a majority of the drug treatment facilities throughout the world. Perhaps this stems from the idea that you have to admit that you are an alcoholic or addict before you can be helped.” Or perhaps you were told you need to label yourself as an addict or alcoholic in order to admit to yourself you are powerless. Whatever the reason, labeling individuals who choose to use drugs or drink as addicts and alcoholics is not a helpful practice, and quite frankly, it’s absurd and harmful.
The Freedom Model for Addictions Approach to Labels
The Freedom Model for Addictions goes into some detail about why and how labeling someone an addict or alcoholic is harmful. Take a look:
“The addict self-image is an incredibly destructive thing. It is disempowering because it denies your ability to change, and leaves you looking instead for a way to compensate for and cope with an imagined handicap. We have shown you that the main premises of addiction are not empirically supported, and in fact are contradicted by the available scientific evidence. We have explained the myriad ways you may have been persuaded into taking on this addict self-image, and how that has distorted your experience into one of feeling unable to change. We’ve given you a far better explanation of why you’ve been using substances problematically with both the PDP and by explaining the reasons behind a strong preference for substance use. With all of this, we’re aiming to show you that you are fully free to change, and that any obstacles are purely mental; that is, they are matters of beliefs, thoughts, knowledge, and the like.
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.”
Move on from Addiction and Labels for Good
As the above excerpt so clearly demonstrates, what you think, you eventually become. Beliefs matter; they matter a lot. If you are willing to change the way you see yourself, and reject any label that puts you in the treatment and recovery trap, you will finally know freedom. Freedom is the ability to move on effortlessly. I realize this sounds impossible, but once you discover that the majority of what you think you know about addiction is wrong and is holding you emotionally captive, then the upending of these myths can build that bridge to effortless change. You really can move on!
If you or someone you love are ready to break free from the addiction and recovery cycle, and you are seeking a non 12-step program, call us 888-424-2626. For more information about the Freedom Model Program go to TheFreedomModel.org