Now that you understand the destructive power of the addict self-image, it is important to gain insight into how it is acquired. If you ask yourself, "why am I this way", then this chapter will provide your answer. Once the confusion is cleared up, you will be free to develop a new, more accurate and thus empowering self-image.
Recovery ideology directly teaches the addict self-image, and that's quite obvious when you're required to identify as an addict/alcoholic to be compliant with treatment and in support group meetings. But there is also a set of easily observable social processes that teach people to take on the self-image and role of the addict. So whether you've been indoctrinated into this belief system in a treatment program or not, there are many ways you can be persuaded to take on this damaging self-image. Let's review the ways people learn to see themselves as addicted, and subsequently feel powerless and handicapped.
Substance use can be very problematic. It can be dangerous and even fatal. But it's never involuntary. You have learned to see it this way by various processes, some of which are obvious, some of which are subtle. The end result of this learning is that you interpret your preference for substance use as an addiction: an involuntary compulsion. Since your feelings come from your interpretations of things, this particular interpretation makes you feel powerless and addicted. It is a very real feeling. It is a painful and terrifying feeling. But you aren't truly powerless and you aren't truly addicted. You would never have felt this way if you hadn't learned to see things this way. The good news is this can be reversed by learning the truth.