“It’s not hurting anyone else.” “What does it matter what I do with my own life?” “Not your body, not your problem.”
Do these ideas sound familiar? Even if you haven’t had these exact thoughts, you may have had similar ones. As addicts, we sometimes like to believe that our behaviors only affect us. We’re whole people. We think our own thoughts, feel our own feelings and act as we see fit. We have a will, the ability to choose what actions we believe are best. What we choose to do with our own minds and bodies is our business, right?
To be sure, addiction can increase the chances of harming your health. We all know this intuitively. However, our thoughts, feelings, and choices do impact others. We may tell ourselves that what we do only affects us – but it just isn’t true. An addict’s lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Lung disease, and mental illnesses (1). That much we may admit. But what about relationships with parents, children, significant others, and friends? How have these relationships been affected by addiction?
In order to begin ridding ourselves of addiction, we must understand that we’re not alone. We’re not merely drifting through life disconnected from everyone else. We are not our own; we do not belong just to ourselves. Our choices matter and they reach beyond us and our bodies. We need the people around us – just as much as they need us. We each have a unique role. We are all endowed with gifts that are specific to us, and addictions all too often rob us of realizing those gifts.
If we believe that we are powerless, we will remain so. If we believe we are beyond help, we will not seek it. But if we can breathe, then hope is possible. We know we can control our breathing. We can breathe short and shallow, or long and deep. If we can grasp that, then we can grasp the power of the present moment. What’s past is a memory, and the future hasn’t arrived yet. Therefore, the present is all we really have.
Remember that recovery is a lifestyle and that it continues after treatment. Aftercare options include 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. Other alternatives include Rational Recovery and faith-based programs like Celebrate Recovery.
To paraphrase the Greek philosopher Epictetus (2), it’s not life that bothers us. It’s not other people or circumstances. It’s what we think about these things that cause us pain and discomfort. Our attitudes have immense influence over the quality of our inner lives. How we think about ourselves frames how we act in relation to others.
If we choose hope in the present, we can choose recovery. We need not live in addiction. Our fate is not set in stone; it can be changed. It may be difficult. It might involve having conversations that aren’t comfortable. It might involve new routines and regimens. But it is possible. One single breath, one single choice linked to another. That’s how we begin to rid ourselves of addiction.
If you or someone you love needs help, contact Recovery In Tune now. Read more about our different treatment options here.