Do You See Yourself as Addicted? That Can Change
Do you see yourself as addicted? Are you aware of the fact that that can change?
In The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap we tell the story of each co-author, and how each of us at one time, saw ourselves as an “addict” or an “alcoholic”. While we no longer hold this view of ourselves, that evolution came with the understanding that the addiction model as Western culture sees it, is wrong. Knowing the facts freed us of these damaging self-images. If you find yourself going to 12 step meetings, therapy, or rehabs, defining yourself as an addict or an alcoholic, you can make the change like we did. Take a look:
“It’s hard to quantify in data exactly what changes when people see themselves as addicted, but it’s like a general sense of defeat and dependency washes over them. Their spirit seems to wither and fade as they accept their fate. The Freedom Model authors have experienced this themselves. Mark had quit drinking for over a year, but was trapped in the recovery society due to court mandates. He was in outpatient programs where counselors worked daily to get him to conform to the disease view and to see himself as being in for a lifelong struggle with addiction, even while he had already happily and willingly quit on his own. As he thought of this lifelong struggle, it brought him to the point of hopelessness.
Michelle took on this identity before even taking her first drink or drug. She was told at a young age that she had inherited the “alcoholic gene.” Her father and both his parents were diagnosed “alcoholics”, and several other relatives had severe alcohol and drug problems. When she was 10 years old after her father was mandated to attend AA meetings, she was told by a well-meaning AA member they were “saving a seat for her.” She took her first drink at 12 years old, and she liked it but she already felt the sting of shame and guilt. Her fear of the immense, supernatural powers of alcohol and her supposed genetic predisposition to alcoholism were engrained and reinforced throughout her adolescence, so when she began “partying” in high school, she drank seemingly uncontrollably. Once in college she progressed rapidly from the weekend warrior to a daily heavy drinker and drug user, and she struggled with severe depression.
Steven experienced it too. He’d been a multi-drug user and used heroin on and off nasally for a few years before treatment. He hadn’t behaved in the desperate ways of an addict yet, and knew he would never inject drugs. But within a week following his stay at an inpatient treatment program (a program that featured seven 12-step based sessions a day) he began injecting heroin, stealing from his family to support his drug use and became the desperate junkie stereotype that the addiction treatment providers taught him to become. He remembers vividly being told in rehab, “You’re not done yet. You’ll be shooting up soon. They all do.” And that’s exactly what he did. Prior to this treatment, the idea of shooting up was foreign and he never considered it an option. That point is important for you to know. Consequently, once crossing that learned line, his spirit was crushed. This was the beginning of 5 years of hell for him, as the fatalism of his new addicted self-image ate away at his life.
We see people with crushed spirits like this every day. One of the worst symptoms of this is that they go from simply wanting or liking intoxication to believing they need it. Again, they don’t really need it; they’ve learned that they need it through the “help” and “awareness” offered by the recovery society. They go from thinking substance use is something they like right now, to feeling like it’s a compulsion they’ll be stuck with for the rest of their lives. This is no mistake, and they usually don’t independently come up with this new way of seeing their preference for substance use, the recovery society teaches it to them.
These teachings directly affect the plight of people with substance use problems. Research has shown that belief in the disease model of addiction increases binges and “relapses.” After treatment, people come to interpret all sorts of things as dangerous “triggers” that can cause them to use, and they walk around paranoid that they’ll be triggered to fall off the wagon at any given moment. A common story heard in support meetings goes like this:
You have to be on the lookout for triggers at all times. I was sober for 10 years, and then I went to a wedding. I stayed away from the bar, and everything was fine. But then dessert was served. I ate it, but it tasted weird, then I found out it was Tiramisu, a cake that contains alcohol. I started craving and couldn’t control myself. I went right over to that open bar and started drinking. That cake kicked off a relapse that lasted almost two years before I got back into recovery.
These stories tell the tale of an expectancy response (placebo effect) learned from the recovery ideology. That person was taught that they have an “allergy to alcohol” that works to cause them to crave and drink uncontrollably once they’ve had so much as a drop of alcohol enter their system. The result is that when a person who believes in this ingests some alcohol, the belief kicks in, causes them to feel weak and compelled, and they act out what they’ve been taught. The cake is blamed, but really, it’s the ideas that are to blame.”
It’s Time to Move Past This
The point of transcribing this passage from The Freedom Model text is so you know we felt hopeless and carried the addicted and alcoholic self-images. But more importantly, that we then learned the facts and do not carry this fatalistic mythology anymore. Know this, if you feel just as lost as we did, read the entire Freedom Model and free yourself from these self-limiting traps. The misinformation that keeps you in this damaging emotional and mental cycle can be unlearned, and like us, you too can be free as well!
For more information about The Freedom Model or the only our at-home solution to addiction, go to www.leaveaddictionbehind.com or call 888-973-9596