30 Aug Relying on Willpower
Before seeking treatment, many addicts attempt to control their disease on their own by sheer willpower. They tell themselves that they don’t have a problem and they can get a handle on things whenever they want to. Many addicts go through a cycle of rallying their willpower, failing, and giving into addiction again and again before finally seeking a different solution.
One way that addicts try to rely on their own will power is by setting boundaries for themselves, and then trying not to cross them. Some examples of this include :
I will never drink before 6 pm.
I will limit my drinking to beer on the weekdays.
I will only use drugs at parties.
I will not drink or use drugs at work.
The problem with setting boundaries like these is that addicts inevitably cross them, usually citing a very good excuse. They then set new boundaries, further out from those before, and attempt to stick to those, only to cross them later on. The other problem is that addiction can continue to grow, even within the confines of these boundaries (like drinking 12 beers, but no hard liquor) giving addicts a false sense of being able to manage their addiction on their own.
A big part of addiction is denial. An addict often either refuses there is a problem or puts the fault on someone else. Denial is a powerful thing, and it can lead the brain to draw some pretty irrational conclusions. An addict will often lay blame anywhere he can in order to get around the addiction that needs to be addressed. He may say his substance abuse is the only way he can manage stress. He may blame his environment and the people around him. He can come up with these and a thousand other excuses for his addiction, none of which will place the responsibility for his problems squarely on his own shoulders.
Making Big Changes
The blame game eventually leads the addict to make a huge life change in order to stop his addictive behaviors. When his willpower fails him, and he has placed blame for the problem somewhere else, he will attempt to escape the “source” of his problems in order to stop his substance abuse. This may mean leaving behind his family and friends and moving to try and get a fresh start. He may quit his job and start a new career. He will be willing to cut out almost anything from his life, as long as it doesn’t mean he has to cut out his addiction.
Carrying the Disease With You
Having a fresh start is actually a good strategy sometimes for addicts who are in recovery, but it doesn’t have a very good success rate for those who haven’t begun any sort of recovery plan. The problem is that addiction is a disease of the brain, and the addict will be taking his brain with him wherever he goes.The addict may be able to abstain from his substance abuse for a short time, but eventually withdrawal symptoms and the brain’s alarm cries for the substance will win out and the addict will find himself falling back into the same patterns as before. The failure of his willpower will only discourage an addict and further feed into the disease.
The only way to overcome addiction is to stop relying on willpower and find other methods of healing. Counseling, support from family and other addicts, and relying on the healing power of God are what an addict needs to overcome addiction. The sooner an addict admits he has a problem, and stops the cycle of relying on willpower and failing, the less damage the disease will be able to inflict upon his life. Seeking treatment as soon as possible is essential for saving lives from the powerful grip of addiction.