Why Overcoming Addiction Isn’t About Getting Sober

overcoming addictionWhen we talk about overcoming addiction, successful recovery is often determined by abstinence or sobriety. That is, you’ve only beaten your addiction to the extent that you haven’t used, drank, or acted out.

 

This idea is so common in our culture that in 12-step circles, we measure the strength of one’s recovery in terms of “clean time,” or that period of time that’s elapsed since your last acted, used, or drank. Hang around recovery treatment centers long enough and you’re bound to hear things like, “He’s got 12 years,” or “I just got my 90 days.”

 

But here’s the thing: Overcoming addiction has nothing to do with how long you haven’t engaged in your addiction. 

 

So what’s the real story with beating addiction?

Silencing the Inner Critic: Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, and Problematic Sex

silencing your inner criticChances are if you’re reading this blog post, you know exactly what an “inner critic” is. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’re intimately familiar with what that inner critic sounds like.

 

You also know all too well what if feels like to be on the receiving end of his or her withering, ruthless self-criticisms and attacks.

 

I certainly do. As I’ve gotten better over the years at listening to how I talk to myself, I’ve noticed that I am my own worst critic. It’s a cliche for a reason as being harder on oneself than anyone else is a very common experience.

 

Let’s look at this inner critic and what it has to do with problematic drug use or sexual behaviors.

I Asked Myself This Question When I Thought About Drinking

I asked myself this question when I thought about drinkingI know it’s the weekend because that ‘s usually when I make my weekly trip to my local Trader Joe’s. Recently, I was thrilled to find pumpkin-flavored Kringles, which are a flaky, frosting-covered pastry that’s really close to the Dutch pastries I grew up with.

 

Ah, autumn. My 3 1/2-year-old son was pushing the cart and I threw one in amongst the peanut butter, pasta, bacon, vegetables, and other goodies.

 

Then I strolled over to the side of the store that had the wine, beer, beverages, and snacks. I added a few more items to the cart, double-checked my grocery list on my phone, and was ready to call it a day.

 

I walked over to the cashier with the shortest line and stood there, waiting. I sighed.

 

My eyes roamed for a moment as I allowed my mind to wander. That’s when I saw it.

Changing the Language of Addiction: Fighting Stigma

changing the language of addictionA client recently shared with me his experience of going to a faith-based recovery support group. He sincerely appreciated that he and the other attendees did not self-identify as addicts or alcoholics.

 

Instead, each person introduced themselves as a child of God.

 

How incredible, I thought. How healing it must have been, at a time when he is truly hurting, to identify with a label that affirms his value and worth instead of one that he experiences as shaming.

 

It was a stunning reminder of the power of language in our lives. There are few other arenas where the power of language is as strongly felt as it is with addiction. But why is this? Why is choosing our words carefully when we talk about drug and alcohol problems important? And how can we go about changing the language of addiction?

No Alcohol Safe to Drink? The Real Results of That New Alcohol Study

Chances are that while you were listening to the radio, scanning the news, or scrolling through your newsfeed on social media, you came across a headline like this one: “No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms.”

 

The study, originally published in the Lancet, looked at levels of alcohol consumption and its health effects in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016.

 

The headline is alarmist to me, and, if you’re like me, a bit confusing. For years, we’ve heard that moderate drinking can actually help prevent heart disease.