Holistic

The Insanity of Addiction

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

People love to quote this definition of insanity, because it does a pretty good job of describing our addictions.

We know that using drugs and alcohol gets us into trouble, yet we think we can somehow do things a little bit different in order to get away with our using. And yet we find ourselves getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol, over and over again, and we never seem to learn.

This is addiction. We try to out-think our disease. We think that switching from liquor to beer might be the answer to our problems. We think that if we can just slow down a little bit, we can find a way to control our using, while still “having fun.”

This is insanity. This is addiction.  Pretty useful definition of insanity, right? So let’s apply this useful definition to our recovery as well (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results):

insanity

1) Recovery philosophy – Let’s say you are a chronic relapser and have tried to get clean and sober for many years and you simply continue to relapse. If you’ve honestly given it your best efforts and you genuinely wanted to stay quit, but could not do so, then perhaps you should consider a different treatment option. There is more than one treatment philosophy out there, just as there are many different religions in the world. They all lead to the same path (though some recovery programs may be more effective than others). If you continue to relapse, and you’re limiting yourself to only one treatment program, then maybe you should think about trying something different. You might get different results.

2) Quitting smoking – If you keep trying to quit smoking, and you continue to relapse, then perhaps you should try a different technique to help you quit. There are people out there who slap on a nicotine patch and say “here we go again. Maybe I can quit for good this time.” Yet when they continuously relapse, they always go back to the nicotine patch! This is insanity! Why not try something different? Never quit quitting, and never quit trying new things to help you quit. Eventually, you will find something that works for you and hopefully you can make it stick.

3) A Lifelong therapist – Some people get stuck in one-on-one counseling with a specific therapist. They get comfortable with the therapist and fall into a rut and aren’t really growing or making progress. Again, if you are just treading water with your therapy, or if you continue to make negative choices and decisions in spite of your therapy sessions, then why not try something different? If we get to comfortable with someone, it can lead to a pattern of laziness. Staying stuck in a rut like this is insanity.

4) Long Term Treatment – If you keep returning to detox centers and residential treatment programs, but continue to relapse, then perhaps it’s time to try long term treatment. This is what finally worked for me when shorter trips to rehab continued to fail me, and success rates are generally a lot higher for long term treatment programs.

In addition, I’d like to suggest another useful definition for you to ponder: insanity is self destruction. Period. Any behavior or thinking that leads you to self destructive behavior is insane.

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  • http://webtv Eileen

    Hi Patrick
    Found this site late last night and came back this morning to print out some more lit. This is by far the best advice and help I have found for me…and how to help my soon to be 30 yr old son. He is a loving son when sober and when he is under the influence he becomes a mean nasty person. He has had many rough areas in his life and turned to alcohol and pot at a young age. I carry guilt that when the first time it happened I did not get him the help he needed as I was stil married to his dad then who was heavy addict. Thank you for your words of encouragement. God Bless you,
    Eileen

  • Patrick

    Thanks Eileen….good luck to you and your son both. Just fyi, I doubt getting him help “right away” would have made a bit of difference in the long run. In fact I am sure of it.

  • http://www.newcite.atspace.com vilignoble

    Insanity should be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and getting different results.

  • Amy

    Thanks for your site…I am an addict currently not in recovery..I’m just curious in your hollistic spiritual practices to get clean do you believe in Jesus…For me that’s what works…The steps are actually principles out of the bible…Although Im fully aware how scary and overwhelming the bible is let alone all the hypocritical things that happen in churches as well as in our world…So I was just curios on your take on this…Thank you for reaching out to other addicts…!!!

  • Patrick

    @ Amy – What do you mean by “Not currently in recovery?” I certainly think that the religious route is a strong one, and I know that it does work for many people. However, I also realize that the vast majority of people reject that path outright. Trying to convince them otherwise is not a good strategy, in my opinion. Better to get them to try something else that might work (like AA, etc.).

    Just my 2 cents. If it works for you, great! I know it works for others too!

  • Ishan

    Excuse Mr./Mrs. i have a problem of doing anything again and again
    For ex:-
    If i pick something from i again keep it down and again pick
    I do this process many times
    I dont know how to stop
    I tried very muuch
    you can even see in my comment that i have written some alphabets repeatedly
    If you think you can solve my problem please tteeell me! :)

  • Ishan

    Excuse Mr./Mrs. i have a problem of doing anything again and again
    For ex:-
    If i pick something from table i again keep it down and again pick it up
    I do this process many times
    I dont know how to stop
    I tried very muuch
    you can even see in my comment that i have written some alphabets repeatedly
    If you think you can solve my problem please tteeell me! :)