Many believe that individuals suffering from drug or alcohol addiction simply need to increase their willpower. Why don’t addicts have more willpower? This is a question that countless addicts and their families have asked. Yet, as many addicts will tell you, when the disease comes calling, willpower alone is not enough to get you through the night.
What Exactly is Willpower?
Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals. Self-discipline, determination, resolve, and self-control – these are words not generally associated with addiction. Yet, many addicts will tell you it took lots of willpower and determination to obtain their chosen substance day-in and day-out and plenty of discipline and self-control to hide their addiction from family and friends. In other words, addicts do have willpower and resolve, but it’s unfortunately channeled into self-destructive and ultimately lethal behaviors.
If only there was a way to turn the negative self-will devoted to drinking, drugging, and self-destruction into a positive volition for vitality and healthy living.
It’s called recovery.
Most addicts live helter-skelter, chaotic lives, but in the process of recovery, something unusual happens. Think of rehab as sort of an “imposed” self-discipline starter club where individuals live in a structured environment and begin to establish healthy daily habits to undertake the liberating process of letting go of old, destructive patterns. Through these efforts, new, healthier patterns can be created. These include sleeping and eating at regular times, attending 12 Step meetings, and participating in therapy while being supported by a team of medical professionals and encouraged by others in rehab.
Understanding Triggers for Addiction
Every addict has certain situations or “triggers” that led to the addiction and can challenge positive will-power in recovery. Triggers can wreak havoc on an individual who is working towards developing healthier habits. These can include loneliness, feelings of frustration, anxiety, boredom, and a lack of excitement. In a professional recovery program, recovering addicts learn to identify their specific triggers along with new, positive ways to overcome them.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
For many addicts whose lives are out of control, dealing with the urgent challenge of substance abuse is the most pressing and immediate problem in their lives. However, addiction is frequently not the only issue, and in the case of many individuals, co-occurring mental illness comes to light through the process of recovery.
One such example would be an addict who also suffers from social anxiety. In fact, the social anxiety helped fuel the addiction because the patient used drugs or alcohol as a means to self-medicate the extreme panic felt in social situations. In these cases, recovery has to be focused on both treating the addiction and the mental illness.
Developing New Ways to Live Without Drugs or Alcohol
Human beings are creatures of habit, and learned behaviors repeated time after time establish neural pathways in the brain – sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Many addicts have daily or weekly rituals that unconsciously set them up to drink or use. Through the process of recovery, patients begin to recognize the negative patterns that tripped them up and caused them to relapse. Sometimes simple awareness through self-discovery is enough to dislodge a trigger and to shift willpower towards a healthier alternative.
Learning new ways to deal with the stresses of life is what recovery is all about. Through this process, willpower is found and hope for a life free from addiction can become a reality.
At Summit Behavioral Health, we help each individual develop real-life skills to overcome triggers and cravings that can lead to relapse.
Is Today the Day to Get Help?
If you’re searching for answers about addiction for you or a loved one, help is available today. We will create a customized treatment plan based off of you or your loved ones individual needs and goals.
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