Friday, February 22, 2013

How Much Do I Need to Examine Myself and How Much Do I Need to Change?

When people are living in active addiction, things are not going well. Sometimes there are big problems and sometimes there are small problems. There are always problems of one kind or another. People in their active addiction are not happy with how things are going – and they are not happy with how they are behaving. They need to change. In fact, it is an obvious truth that if people don’t change then things will stay the same – and that never works out well! 

Some people come to addiction because of trauma and pain and the need to escape. Some come to addiction because they love to party and feel a thrill of excitement. And some come to it because of physical pain and medicines that are prescribed by well-meaning physicians. But no matter how we come to it, the end results have a lot of similarities. There are negative consequences. Usually these negative consequences include a low self-esteem and a low self-respect.

In active addiction there has usually been a breakdown of some of our moral codes and ethics. We have done things that we shouldn’t do. We have done things that we told ourselves we wouldn’t do. Sometimes these are dramatic things like stealing or cheating or lying. Sometimes they are fairly minor things. Even people who become addicted to pain medicines will often do things they are not proud of. They will sometimes take medicines when they aren’t really in much physical pain, but they take them to feel better emotionally. They may take opiate pain medicine because they are angry or depressed, or they just want to escape for a while. They may take pain medicine because they want to reward themselves or feel a little excitement. So, now they are taking medicine in ways it was not prescribed for – they are abusing the medicine –- and how can people feel good about themselves when they do that?

When people come to treatment and want to change, they have to become willing to really face themselves. One of the exercises we had to do when I was in treatment back in 1984, was to look at ourselves in the mirror. We had to take a long look at who we really were, who we had become. We had to do it often enough until we were comfortable with the results. There are many ways to face yourself. Looking in the mirror is one way to see your physical being. The 12 steps of AA and NA include a process to make a “thorough and complete moral inventory of ourselves” That is very powerful way to face ourselves and see who we really have become. It is especially powerful when this self-examination is combined with confessing our faults to another human being.

Of course, once we have really faced the things we have done in our active addiction, it becomes time to make amends and forgive ourselves. The way we acted in active addiction is no reflection on who really are and how we behave in recovery.
So, it is clear that change is essential if we are to become the people we truly want to be. One of my first advisors said to me,” Peter, staying in recovery is really very simple. You only have to do three things. Firstly, don’t drink or use drugs. Secondly, work an active recovery program….and thirdly, change absolutely every aspect of your life!”  

At The Coleman Institute, we specialize in helping people get clean clean and stay clean from alcohol and drugs. If you or someone you love is in need of detox from opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitant to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-77-DETOX (33869).

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