I’ve been discussing how addiction is a neurophysiological reality and people who are wired this way must accept that they are wired differently than others. If that were the end of the story, if we just stopped, then our problem would be solved. Right? Then why is it so hard for so many to stay stopped? I mean, once the fun has long gone out of our addiction, and we are hurting ourselves and the people around us, why can’t we simply quit and be done with it.
Well, quite simply because of the addictive mind. And the way it loves to lie to us.
The truth is that it is our mind that leads us back to our addiction over and over again, not our body.
Most people don’t understand how the mind is affected by addiction. The research indicates that generally speaking, most addicts have a very distorted view of the world which is negative in nature. On the whole, we suffer from low self-esteem, enormous self-loathing, a view of the world as the glass half empty. We are critical, judgmental, and often feel hard done by.
When I first got clean & sober I would have been happy with a goal of ‘low’ self-esteem because I had ‘no’ self-esteem. I compared myself to people around me and believed I just wasn’t good enough; that somehow others had the tools and skills for living life that I had missed out on. I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Like most kids who grew up with alcoholism, I would tell myself things like ‘If people really knew who I was, they wouldn’t want anything to do with me.
I believed at my core that there was something wrong with me – I was inherently flawed. My mind was fragile. It was difficult to get stability in terms of any positive way to look at myself or the world. I didn’t understand that these negative perceptions and thoughts of myself and the world were part of my addiction.
There is emotional pain that accompanies a mind that is that dark and gloomy. My mind knew how to escape – by convincing me that a drink, a drug, some illicit sex, more money or whatever else I am addicted to, will take it all away. It essentially continues to tell me that I don’t have a problem when I clearly do. It erases the memory of past transgressions. It fools me by saying things like, “You weren’t that bad – what are you making such a big deal about?”
My addictive mind will tell me that people don’t care about me and so what does it matter anyway what I do. If I don’t recognize this negative thinking as an inherent part of my addiction that needs to be addressed and treated, I will remain oblivious to why I experience ongoing relapse or why I’ve stopped my addiction but I’m miserable, isolated and full of fear and tension.
Recovery is supposed to feel awesome. But, like most things in life, we have to work for it.
Don’t let your addiction get a hold of you this way. Educate yourself as to how you can turn your negative thinking into a positive outlook on life. You deserve to have the full benefit of recovery which entails mental and emotional sobriety, alongside physical abstinence.
That is my wish for you.