The addict’s dilemma is that they are trapped in a cycle of addiction, seemingly with no way out. The mental gymnastics that they must perform in order to stay trapped in this state is called denial. Just because an addict is trapped in this dilemma and is caught up in addiction does not mean that they are stupid, however. Most addicts and alcoholics are actually fairly intelligent.
The addict dilemma
When an addict continues to use drugs and self medicate, they are trapped in a cycle that is largely driven by fear. They will rarely acknowledge this, because no one likes to admit that they are afraid. They will usually make an excuse to try and cover this reason and say that they are angry, or that they are bored with life, and so on. But for the addict to really get honest and see the truth and admit that they are afraid is really quite rare. It is this fear that perpetuates the cycle of self medicating. It is this fear that drives their addiction.
Now of course, the behavior of an addict is such that their actions produce more and more problems, and thus the cycle continues. They create chaos and more problems in their life and so they end up creating more fear for themselves, more stress, more anxiety. All more reasons to self medicate. Eventually the addict uses drugs simply for the sake of using. They have buried their fear and they no longer have to even acknowledge it–they simply know that they want to medicate it, all day, every day if possible.
Eventually the drugs and the alcohol stop working so well as the addict develops tolerance over time. At this point the addict will be faced with their fear because they will not be able to medicate it as well. Even then, they will stubbornly try to medicate it anyway, rather than to face their fears and attempt to make a change in their life. Our resistance to change is just insane. The addict will do just about anything to avoid looking at themselves.
When an addict decides to finally get clean and sober and try a new way to live, it is a massive leap of faith. They will not do this trivially. It is a massive decision. It is a life-altering decision. And it takes a great deal of courage. So if you are trying to convince an addict to change, realize what you are up against. There is a mountain of fear that the addict must get past. This can generally only be done when the addict breaks down and is completely miserable. It is only then that they will become willing to take action.
Ask yourself: “Am I helping the addict to avoid this state of surrender?” (If so, knock it off!)