An anonymous reader writes in and asks:
“What are the steps towards breaking a severe addiction?”
Good question. And I think it is worth thinking about this answer because doing so clearly reveals a process. Our path in recovery might differ from person to person but I believe that we all go through the same basic process in recovery. So what is that process and what are the steps that make it up? Let’s take a look:
1) Hitting bottom – You have to get to a point in your life where you are pretty devastated with yourself. Not much will left to live, not much hope left. Sad to say, but this is the state of being that seems to lead to the next step in the process.
2) Surrender – This is where you throw up your hands and say “I’m finished. I can’t live like this anymore. Someone show me a new way of living.”
3) Asking for help – This follows naturally from surrender. If we could quit on our own we would not be addicted. We need guidance and direction in order to learn a new way of living.
4) Decision – As we get our bearings in early recovery we have a choice. Go back to the madness or make an internal commitment to recovery. We have to make a choice.
5) Action – Our decision means nothing until we put it into action. Reckless action works better than sitting there without a plan and doing nothing. In fact, reckless action works better than having a great plan and not really following through on it. Action is the key. You have to do something in order to recover.
6) Learning – The actions that we take must lead to a huge amount of learning or we are headed for trouble. We have to seek new knowledge about how to live a sober life. Always be learning and always look for the lessons in your life. This is a huge key to growth.
7) Holistic growth – Personal growth is the only way to maintain recovery, as without it, you will fall into complacency and eventually relapse. You have to keep growing in order to recover. The holistic approach just means that you attempt to grow in many different areas of your life (spiritual, physically, emotionally, etc.).
So those are the steps that I believe everyone pretty much goes through in breaking an addiction. Notice that there are actually quite a few steps of preparation, with steps 1 through 4 actually taking place before the person even stops drinking or using drugs in many cases. So many in recovery try to skip straight to the action and learning steps without fully surrendering and making a decision on a really deep level. Of course when they do so they don’t find success in recovery.
That is the process as I see it and that is what I experienced in my life. I also see others going through these processes and it seems to reinforce the idea.
What is your experience with this process? Did you follow this path in order to overcome your addiction?