We are not powerless over our addictions, nor are we helpless victims of heredity, a disease, a spiritual malady, or a slew of character defects that require the intervention of some “higher power,” and a lifetime of meetings to control. This is not my opinion, but the result of decades of scientific research into addiction, and the simple fact that 75% of all addicts recover on their own without formal treatment or self-help groups.
We learn to become addicted, and we can learn to make the changes necessary to our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that will relieve us of the burden of our addictions for a lifetime, not just a day-at-a-time. The objective of “Powerless No Longer,” is to teach you how to take advantage of your brains’ natural ability to rewire itself, its neuroplasticity, to overcome your addictive behavior, and reach your full potential.
In this excerpt, from Chapter 10 of Powerless No Longer, I am going to describe some of the more common self-defeating beliefs, along with the ways we can dispute them.
You may notice two things as you are going through the list. These irrational beliefs are not new, they are variations on the same theme as others we have explored, and most of them effect our self-esteem. The messages we send to ourselves are far worse than any we receive from the outside world. These are in no particular order.
“I should always feel happy, confident, and in control of my emotions, I should never feel angry, anxious, inadequate, jealous, or vulnerable.”
First, notice the absolutes, “should always,” and “should never.” Anytime we start thinking in absolutes we are asking for trouble. Emotional upsets are difficult enough to resolve without beating ourselves over being in that position in the first place. Whatever they are, our feelings are indeed valid, and a result of our current belief system, healthy or not. Being upset for being upset makes no logical sense, and keeps us from looking at the underlying belief that caused the upset. Continue reading
This simple little exercise takes no special training or skills. On a clean sheet of paper, write down the values that are important to you. Don’t try to put them in any particular order, just write them down as you think of them.
They could be groups of people, like friends and/or family. They could be traits like loyalty, honesty, or professionalism. Whatever they are, they’re yours, and there are no right or wrong answers, so write them all down.
When you’re done with your list, and it can be as short or comprehensive as you like, make a short list of the five values, from those on your list, that are the most important to you. Again, write them down in no particular order. Continue reading
No one group, method, or approach works for everyone. There are, however, a great many studies that have been done concerning what methods and programs actually work in overcoming addictive behavior. If I was starting from scratch, I would have to cite hundreds and hundreds of studies, weight them, and find some format to present the results so that they would make sense to you. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that, as it has already been done for me.
Psychologists at the University of New Mexico, led by Dr. William Miller, tabulated every controlled study of alcoholism treatment they could find. They weighted each study based upon the quality of its research methodology, to arrive at a comprehensive list, which they first published in book form in 1995, and have continually updated since. The book is called Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives.
Notice that these studies specifically addressed addiction to alcohol, not any other drugs or behaviors. As I have mentioned several times in previous chapters, it is the addictive behaviors we are modifying here, and they are virtually identical across the entire range of habits and substances. Continue reading