Drug addiction and alcoholism stand at an odd intersection of a disease that overwhelms a person’s metabolism and brain chemistry, and a psychological disorder that requires an afflicted individual to muster all of his resources to defeat that disorder. Unlike bacterial infections that can be treated with antibiotics or viral infections that can be attacked with immunotherapy, substance abuse problems require an individual to revert back from the brain and metabolic chemistry changes that characterize a state of addiction and to physically and mentally desire to be cured of the addiction disease. Learning and harnessing self-control is a key element of that cure.
Learning Self Control
Addiction therapy defines self-control as an individual’s ability to resist temptations and to recognize his vulnerabilities or weaknesses. Individuals who have fallen prey to drug or alcohol addiction, with appropriate therapy, will recognize the triggers that cause them to use the substances that they abuse. Those triggers may or may not be recognized by third parties as temptations, but they are strong temptations for an addict who needs his drugs or alcohol to function in his everyday life. The drugs or alcohol that have assumed control over an addict’s life will supplant his self control and will leave him no option apart from those substances. When asked about his own addictions, the author, Stephen King, noted that he was unable to go to sleep in his own house if any alcohol was present in his house. He had to consume that alcohol before going to sleep, and he had no vestige of his own self-control to prevent that from happening.
The second aspect of self-control, namely, an addict’s ability to recognize his own vulnerabilities, is also often subsumed by addiction. Alcohol and drugs will blind an individual to his problems and will enhance his denials and sense of self-preservation. An addict or alcoholic might believe that he is exercising self-control, for example, when he turns down a single opportunity for a drink or an opportunity to use a drug. These incidents are generally few and far between, and generally occur when a substance abuser is not under stress or experiencing any of the other emotions that might urge him to suppress negative feelings with drugs or alcohol. A recovering addict who regains even a modicum of self control will recognize these situations as exceptions to the rule, whereas the rule itself will lead the addict back to his substance of choice.
Discipline is Freedom
When an addict regains his ability to exercise self control, he can make conscious and affirmative decisions with respect to what he should do and specifically what is best for his health and well-being. No bright line exists between an addict’s ability to exercise self control and a substance’s exercising control over an addict’s lifestyle and decisions. A recovering addict or alcoholic might exercise self control in one situation to avoid resorting to drugs or alcohol as an answer to a problem, only to lose all control over another situation that imposes a different set of stresses on him. Achieving an ability to exercise self control is a long-term goal of addiction recovery, and it is something that a recovering addict will need to work on throughout the duration of his recovery.
Please contact the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, at 512-360-3600 for more information and assistance on how to learn self control when you are recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction. We understand the difficulties that recovering addicts and alcoholics face when they are faced with the prospect of gaining control over their own lives and recoveries. We can provide confidential advice that will get you past any roadblocks you have encountered on your path to sobriety.