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Addiction Questions

I hate getting high. I really do. I don’t know why I do this. I don’t even like it anymore. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Am I one of those hopeless types?

No, you’re not hopeless – rather, you are confused. You get high because you like the effect of getting high, but you dislike (even hate) the consequences of that lifestyle. And after you get high and then pay the price, you forget that at the front end you liked being high. So instead of clearly stating that there are 2 things going on here – liking the high and hating the consequences – you bunch both of them together in your rearview analysis and you state you hate all of it. This of course is not the case. Its ok to say you like the high, just as much as its ok to say you hate the consequences. The Freedom Model for Addictions explains this is greater detail below:

“…the recovery ideology that is entrenched in our culture has convinced too many people that there is no rhyme or reason to their substance use habits. About half of our retreat guests (often those older than 35 years and who have tried to stop in the past) tell us “I don’t know why I do this; I don’t even like it.” Incidentally, the more exposure people have had to recovery ideology and treatment programs, the more likely they say and believe such things. They then go on to list all the negative consequences of heavy substance use, saying “Why would I do this when it costs me my . . .” (e.g., marriage, freedom, license to drive, health, or job). All the “help” they’ve received has led them to become hyper-focused on the costs, the apparent irrationality of their behavior, and the shame of it all. They live in complete bewilderment as to why they continue to drink/drug; they’ve accepted it as the de facto thing they’ll just keep doing because they believe they are driven by sickness, disease, or a mental disorder. They think they are engaging in behavior they don’t want to be doing, and they are confused and feel helpless to change it. This confusion keeps people from seeing their way out of these problems and moving forward.

Yet, if you ask substance users why they initially began using a substance, the answer in most cases is the pursuit of happiness—for the high, to loosen up in social situations, to blow off steam, and so on.”

Later on the book continues…

“Many don’t feel like they must have substances all day, every day. Some feel they “need it” after a hard day’s work, whereas others feel like they can take it or leave it every day throughout the week but see a Saturday without a 12 pack as misery. Some feel they need it when they are upset, stressed, or sad and view going without it in these situations as a serious loss. Everyone’s perspective is unique. The greater the difference between the benefits people see in substance use and the benefits they see in going without it or less of it, the more desperate they will feel and behave. What is normally called an addiction, that is the desperate and costly behavior and mixed emotions over substance use, isn’t an entity unto itself. It isn’t a disease, a brain state, or any other “thing.” It is simply a perspective on one’s available options, a belief that heavy substance use is the happier option. It is a matter of mind.

When we’re looking at random instances of substance use, we are looking at clearly momentary choices made in pursuit of happiness. The people who get badly hung over from an odd night of heavy drinking simply look at that as a poor choice they made to drink too much. They don’t feel addicted nor that they will be doomed to this outcome every time they drink. But, if this begins to become a pattern of regularity, people begin to feel as if they might be out of control. They look back and feel as if they haven’t chosen it because it seems that any kind of thinking or deliberation happens less often before they jump into these habitual choices.”



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