Let’s continue our discussion on addictions.
The most common belief paradigm around addiction is that addiction is a disease. That there is someone wrong with your brain and that you will be an addict for the rest of your life. Therefore avoiding the drug of choice is the only solution, since you can’t control yourself. This is the belief peddled by the ASAM and used in all 12-step programs.
It’s complete bullshit.
It’s not based on any evidence and leads to consistent relapses in drug (ab)use more often than not. The success rates are dismal. While some may find that victimizing themselves and giving away all self-control to the external environment works for them, it’s less than 5-10% of all individuals who attend the 12-step programs.
More people have success with spontaneous recovery.
This belief paradigm just hurts people. It puts massive mental strain on individuals as they are constantly vigilant in their environment and constantly thinking something is wrong with them. Can you imagine going through life thinking you are failure, a flawed human, and someone who needs to constantly attend classes for the remainder of your life because you have no self-control? It’s absurd.
So, what’s the alternative?
The alternative is a belief system that addictions are maladaptive habits.
That means that, even though we engage with substances on an unconscious level (because it’s a habit), we have complete control over ourselves and the complete ability to stop using the substance if we choose. We have the ability to develop new habits. This doesn’t mean it is easy.
A big part of this belief system isn’t saying that people won’t slip up. We all slip up at times! The difference is the mindset going through the process. Imagine how much more freeing it would be to believe that you aren’t an addict, you simply had a lapse in judgment and made a mistake. You can get back on track quicklike and you don’t need to spiral into the abyss.
See, the mindset is everything!
If you tend to binge on certain foods, then it is probably a good idea to not keep them in your house. With the 12-steps, you have the mindset that you can’t control yourself around these foods. With rational recovery, you have the mindset that you can control yourself but you don’t want to waste mental energy trying to do so until new habits are in place.
So, again, while actions may be the same (keep those foods out of the house), the mindset and rationale is completely different. Believing you have control, which you do, sets you up for long-term success and mental health.
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