Analysis Paralysis in Addiction Recovery

Analysis Paralysis in Addiction Recovery


A reader named Chris writes in and asks:

I’m in recovery from codependency, early in the program. I’m working my way with the 12 steps under the guidance of my sponsor, who started me on the program. I don’t go to meetings, there are no groups in my area.I’ve been reading the posts on your website and wondering about how relevant they are to my own recovery. I guess the latter is my question. It’s very difficult for me to be honest with myself when doing the sheets for the steps. And apparently I’m having trouble with the whole Higher Power part, which I have not clearly laid out for myself. What further complicates things is that what got me into recovery in the first place is my negative, destructive behavior patterns in my new relationship. I care about the girl I’ve been with for 4 months now, and basically, even though it is ME who is in recovery first and foremost for MYSELF, she was the reason I started on this path. Are there useful resources dealing specifically with codependency online…..akin to your site?

One of my biggest problems, with regard to this higher power thing and life in general, is that I have a real problem with over-thinking and over-analyzing things….to the point of paralysis. This makes working with the steps so much more difficult. I tend to have an approach that is too analytical. Do you have any suggestions?

Well Chris, I think it comes down to a cliche: “trust the process.” You can work the 12 steps, either in AA or in Al-Anon, and you can follow the guidance of your sponsor and trust that the steps will get you to a better place. It becomes an issue of trust because there is no way someone can sit you down and clearly outline how each action that you take is going to produce meaningful results. Recovery is much more….cumulative than that. It has to build up. If you happen to follow a 12 step program, that is great–so long as you are taking real action. I definitely suffered from a bit of this “analysis paralysis” myself in early recovery and I had to develop some trust in order to move past it. Or more accurately, I had to let go of the need to know how it would all work. I had to surrender.

This process continues on in recovery, even for those who use a more holistic approach that might not hinge on a 12 step program. It is still all about action, and many of those actions will not relate directly to your specific recovery goals. Regular exercise, helping others, seeking emotional balance….what do these really have to do with overcoming addiction or codependency issues? Nothing on the surface….but building up a regular pattern of positive action has a cumulative effect. Holistic growth becomes even more vital in long term recovery, as it is the key to overcoming complacency.

Now, how to incite action when you are stuck in analysis mode? Here are 3 suggestions:

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First approach: Define 3 major goals for each day, such as:

* Don’t use drugs or alcohol no matter what.
* Exercise for 30 minutes.
* Help someone in recovery.

Most anyone can benefit from a simple routine like that, and can customize it to suit their needs.

Second approach: Make a commitment to regular service work. This forces action without having to think about it. You simple go help others in recovery, because you made a previous commitment to do so. Works wonders.

Third approach: Don’t just use a sponsor, but use a sponsorship circle that holds each other accountable for goals that you each set. Put them in writing on a whiteboard at a monthly meeting and then demand results from each other. Thus you can help motivate and inspire each other to take real action.

Ready for action? More information about recovery:

Finding an addiction recovery program – If you have finally come to a decision and have decided to get clean and sober, then you should jump start your recovery by vowing to take massive action in some way. The exact program that we choose to get clean is of little consequence. Think about it: how complicated is sobriety, really? It is not a magic formula. It is not a secret program. The solution is in the doing. You have to take action in order to recover, and those actions are almost never a mystery.

Consistent, positive action is enough to keep people clean and sober in most cases. The problem is in implementing this action on a regular basis.

Using an addiction recovery center – going to drug rehab can jump start your recovery, but in a many people’s cases, it is just a waste of money. This is because most people who go to rehab think that it can fix them, when in fact, all it can really do is give them a helpful nudge. Rehab does not cure anyone. And it does absolutely nothing to motivate people. That must come from within. So too often, addicts and alcoholics attend rehab when they are not yet ready to get clean and sober. They have not yet surrendered fully. They must be fully broken, beyond all denial, and absolutely miserable if rehab is going to be effective. If they are still trying to control their life or maintain power over their situation then they are not ready for rehab.

2 secrets to addiction and recovery – in my opinion there are really 2 secrets to recovery, and people can easily miss both of them, seriously compromising their chances at staying clean. The 2 secrets are:

1) Early recovery demands massive action.

2) Long term recovery requires continuous, holistic growth.

People may intuitively grasp these concepts but how many people really implement them into their lives? Early recovery takes a ton of work; a ton of effort. Massive action is the solution. People are lazy and don’t want to do it.

Long term recovery requires you to keep pushing yourself. Many people use the excuse of “acceptance” to justify their own laziness and character defects. Instead, they should take action and continuously improve themselves as they stay sober in recovery. This is the best way to fight off complacency.

A powerful tip for drug addiction recovery – One of the best tips for recovery from drug addiction is to push yourself to help others in recovery. This is so useful that it can keep a person clean and sober all by itself. It is the most powerful recovery technique. Help others to recover and your own stability in recovery will grow stronger. This is not always accessible to you when you first get clean and sober but very early in your recovery you should start looking for ways to start reaching out and helping others to recover.

About opiate addiction recovery – Recovery from opiates is no different than other drugs, with the exception of some people having pain issues that can complicate this part of their recovery. If this is the case then there are many solutions that an addict can explore. Find new doctors, attend a pain clinic, use holistic and natural healing techniques, and look for alternative ways to treat your bodies pain. No one should have to rely on addictive narcotics to manage chronic pain if they are willing to explore the alternatives. Talk with your doctor and if they are not open to other options then find a new doctor who is more knowledgeable about addiction.

Alcohol addiction recovery – Alcoholics who are struggling to get sober have a similar path as any drug addict. Alcohol is just another drug, of course, and anyone who says that alcohol is not a drug is seriously misinformed. But alcoholics can sometimes relate with other alcoholics much better than with drug addicts, so divisions are formed in 12 step recovery and separate programs and groups have been developed. It can be important for the newcomer to share at this level and relate to others who have abused the same exact drug that they have. Thus, there is a real need to treat alcohol as separate from other drugs, even though in the grand scheme of things, it really is just another drug.

Recovery from addiction is possible for anyone – Ultimately, recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism is possible for anyone, so long as they are willing to get past their lack of action and….take action. This is the whole secret, especially to early recovery. Get moving. Do something. Change everything. This requires action. You have to commit to taking massive action. Every day. Positive changes. This is the key to recovery.


By the way, I sometimes hear from female readers of this website who are missing out on guidance and direction that I really cannot provide them with. Recently I met a professional coach named Lisa who specializes in helping women in recovery. I asked Lisa if I could mention her coaching services to my readers and she said that would be fine. She is open to giving a free trial session before you commit to anything, so feel free to contact her if you are interested in taking your recovery to the next level.

You can check out her website here, or get her contact details here.


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