When the struggling addict or alcoholic is stuck in active addiction, they are completely dependent on their drug of choice.
The way that denial works is very straightforward when it comes to drug dependency. The alcoholic or addict will arrange their mind in any way necessary so as to make the drug or alcohol use that they depend on to be okay in their own mind.
In other words, they rationalize their drug use. Or they justify their drug use.
They do this by using mental trickery in their own mind. This is the function of their denial.
The brain essentially makes a top level decision and says I love drinking alcohol more than anything in the world, and I want to keep doing it, and I am going to defend it to the death over all other things. If anyone challenges this I will rearrange the truth in any way necessary so as to defend my right to drink alcohol.
And then the brain will start building a case for this. For example, it will say See, I still work a day job and I earn my money to pay my bills, and I keep this apartment afloat and I am doing what I need to do in life, I am responsible, and if I want to reward myself with alcohol then I should be able to do that. It is the one thing that I truly like and enjoy.
No matter how bad the consequences get, no matter how much alcohol is screwing up their life, they continue to build these types of arguments in their mind and defend their drinking or drug use.
This is classic denial. Their brain will do all sorts of mental gymnastics in order to make their drug or alcohol use okay.
So how do you overcome this? How do you snap out of denial and get into a recovery mindset?
And for that matter, what is the recovery mindset, and how is it different than that of dependency and addiction?
The mindset that we are striving for in recovery is one of open mindedness.
So when someone says to us I think that your drinking is out of control and it may be ruining your life, we cannot really process that when we are stuck in addiction because our brain jumps to our defense and rationalizes it all away. We immediately go back to but alcohol is the one thing that brings me any happiness! How can you take that away from me?
In recovery, we would be open minded enough to let go of that rationalization, go check into rehab for 28 days, get completely clean from drugs and alcohol, and then test the theory and see if we really would become happy in our recovery, or if we would be miserable without booze or drugs.
The problem is that when we are stuck in denial we are not in a position to say OK sure, let's just try this sobriety thing, what could it hurt? We cannot do that because we feel trapped and we can not imagine going through a single day without using our drug of choice. We imagine that if we cannot self medicate that we will become even more miserable than we already are.
So how do we make this leap? How do we find our way out of addiction, out of denial, and in a position to try recovery?
The key is a single moment of truth and clarity that they call surrender.
In order to make the leap to this new mindset, you have to let go of the old mindset.
And the old mindset is a mindset in which you are struggling and fighting with all of your energy to retain control of your addiction.
Realize this: When you are trapped in addiction you are fighting for control, constantly. You want to go crazy with your drug of choice and lose all control, but at the same time you are struggling to prove to yourself and others that you are not a real addict and that you are in control. So you are fighting and struggling and fighting and struggling. Constantly.
That is the mindset in addiction. It is a mindset of struggle.
In order to overcome this you must let go of the fight. You must release the struggle.
It will feel like a defeat to do this. It will feel as if you are giving up on everything, it will almost feel like you are giving up on yourself completely. It is a few steps away, in my opinion, from a feeling of being suicidal. You are letting go of everything. Everything! You let it all slide.
The moment of surrender is when you say to the world I am so sick and tired of being miserable that I no longer care about any one or any thing, and I will try anything that you suggest to me in order to make this misery go away, and honestly I don't really care if it gets any better, I don't care about life.
That is, in my opinion, a fairly accurate description of what your mental process is like at the moment of true surrender. If you are at that point in your addiction then you are at the best place you could possibly be, because it is all uphill from here. You have reached your bottom, you have surrendered completely, and now you are willing to do whatever it takes in order to recover.
And this is how the recovery process unfolds to the struggling addict or alcoholic. They surrender, then they ask for help and become willing to listen.
And that is all it takes. That is the entire secret of sobriety. Surrender, then listen. Do what you are told to do. Simple as that.
If you think anything more is required for recovery then you are fooling yourself. All it takes is 100 percent total and complete surrender. Then you just do what they tell you to do.
Call a rehab. Get admitted. Go to meetings. Start learning about addiction and recovery. Start learning who and where your support group is at. Follow up with therapy, counseling, meetings, and so on. Dive into all of it without any reservation, without any hesitation. You have no real fear at this point if you truly surrendered, because you came right to the edge of not caring about your own life. You are willing to whatever it takes in order to escape the misery of addiction.
Your mindset may not change overnight, but if you give yourself a chance and you are willing to go to treatment, then your attitude can shift very rapidly as your begin to heal from your addiction. Of course all of that is contingent on the fact that you hit bottom and surrendered, because without that breakthrough, you are just going to stay stuck in the addiction mindset after treatment, which is something that certainly does happen to some people. But if you surrendered completely before attending rehab then your chances of turning your life around and finding real peace and serenity are very good.
The important thing to realize is that if you are still stuck in active addiction, you cannot out-think the disease from where you are at right now. It doesn't work that way. I think Einstein said you cannot solve a problem using the same level of thinking that created that problem. In other words, you cannot overcome alcoholism by switching from hard liquor to beer. We've all tried that and failed. Instead, you have to completely side step the addiction by surrendering completely and putting your life, and your trust, into the hands of others. Do this by calling a rehab center, asking for help, and doing exactly what they tell you to do. Keep doing that, and keep following directions, until you look back one day and realize that you have, in fact, changed your mindset, and your whole world.
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