It’s More than a ‘Physical Dependence’ on Substances or Alcohol
It is true that while one is actively high, or drunk, if addicted, one cannot refrain from having another drink, or dose. These individuals have little to no power or control over their minds during this time. The brain is malfunctioning- there’s no denying that. Once their body becomes dependent, they lose all control. Seriously.
But people are not powerless to stop use of even strongly addictive drugs—physical dependence does not in itself constitute addiction. The inability to stop thinking about drugs or alcohol in a certain way, inevitably results in an addict’s reversion to use in most cases. The notion of having “no control,” is said to be true regardless of how rational the addict may be, or how convinced she may be that to revert to use is to welcome certain self-destruction of some kind. Thinking about continued abstinence, seeing the irrationality of reverting to use…in fact, understanding anything and absolutely everything about one’s addiction does not provide power over the substance. Why is this?
Drugs and Alcohol Make People Feel Good
Everything we think about, every thought whatsoever, is as much emotional as it is intellectual, but because our emotions often operate within our unconscious minds, it gets tricky. The way we learn the meaning of things- what things are, what makes up the world and the perception of the value these things have for us- is largely emotional. Addiction is our condition as humans and it’s inherent in the way we are built- just like the innate drive we have when we choose to seek out food, sex, and other things essential to life.
The very shape of an addicts world is affected by the emotional value and meaning they choose to ascribe to drugs and alcohol- they make them feel so so so good. Places, people, and things are seen as opportunities or obstacles to their satisfaction with life. Arguments and reasons have no power over their emotions, which operate at a deeper level in their brains than does their better judgement.
When Your Thinking Changes – Your Life Changes
Once an addict begins to understand the emotional value they place on certain things or people in their lives, they can begin to understand how and why their actions are capable of moving them in precisely the opposite direction. That’s the thing- addicts know what is good for them and they plan in good faith to do it. But unfortunately, are known to do exactly the opposite.
By recognizing the unconscious influence that emotion has in shaping their world, addicts can then make sense of their actions which would otherwise seem crazy, senseless, and/or uncontrollable. It remains true that the addict alone is the one who actually has power over his or her addiction, and there must be a shift in the meanings the addictive substance has in order for this power to emerge. These changes must happen at the deeper emotional level, operating beneath their conscious perceptions and judgments about the world. Only then will they be capable of re-organize the meaning of various people, situations or events in their life. With that said, it is possible for addicts to change their emotional attitudes toward substances that they know have nothing good to offer- which can change their lives altogether. Even though the route is often demanding, requiring a significant amount of time and effort- it is possible.