Getting Over an Addiction

Patrick
  • By Patrick

  • Photo by Werewolfen

    When someone says “I need to get over this addiction,” I can’t help but stop for a moment and shake my head in awe.

    The idea that you can “get over an addiction” is wrong in so many ways. People do recover, yes. But the words themselves: “get over an addiction,” are misleading and dangerous.

    Now I know that I am being nit-picky here, but this is an important idea. Why? Because the phrase is ridiculous, in that it does not convey the gravity of the situation. People say “getting over an addiction” like they might say “run down to the store and grab a soda.” This is a complete lack of respect for the monumental task of recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

    “I’m going to hit the pool later today, swim a dozen laps or so, maybe catch a bite to eat, then I think I’ll get over this addiction of mine.” See what I mean? This is not a realistic mindset.

    “Getting over an addiction” sounds like a one time event. It’s not. The process of recovery lasts for a lifetime, and any true alcoholic or drug addict needs to dedicate a huge portion of their life to the effort of maintaining sobriety if they want to have any kind of chance at success.

    Just consider some of the miserable success rates that you hear about (if you happen to go look for them). Even people who get really serious about recovery and put in a solid effort still manage to relapse at alarming rates.

    In short, there is no “getting over an addiction,” because:

    1) It implies that recovery is a one-time event (it’s not–instead, it is an on-going process).

    2) It trivializes the effort needed (achieving long term sobriety requires a monumental effort).

    3) It makes it sound as if the addiction will be eliminated, implying the possibility of normal use some day (for a true addict this will never happen, of course).

    4) It focuses on eliminating something, when in fact, the only way to recover is to create something.

    Helpful Actions for you to take:

    1) Treat addiction with respect. Approach recovery using overwhelming force.

    2) Become mindful of the language you use to frame your thoughts. This is important. Don’t think to yourself: “I quit smoking cigarettes” Instead, frame it in a positive: “I’m living healthier today.”

    3) Pursue a creation strategy in recovery, not an elimination strategy. Create a new life for yourself, instead of merely tearing down the old one.

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