Am I ready to stop the madness? Why can’t I stop using drugs? How do I stop using drugs?
These are questions that almost everybody who is getting ready to get clean asks themselves.
The biggest question of all is “Can I stop doing drugs?” Let’s make a distinction. This is a question of ability.
One of the things we want to take a look at is if you have the ability to stop. Can it be done? At my age and in my condition I do not have the ability to do a 4 foot vertical leap in the air and do a windmill dunk from the foul line with a basketball on a basketball court. Just can’t do it. I don’t have the ability.
Some people have given up trying to get sober because they believe they can’t do it. But that’s not true. Let’s rule that idea out. Knowing you have the ability to stop using is a key in getting ready to get sober.
Spoiler Alert: You have the ABILITY to never drink or drug again for the rest of your life. Whether you take correct action and achieve it is another story.
Ability Is What You Are CAPABLE of Doing
The former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz stated the following:
Ability is what you’re capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.
Let’s be clear, and put the cards right on the table. Drug addicts and alcoholics have the ability to stop using drugs and live a clean healthy life. Period. Yes. You. Can.
A lot of times when people say they ’can’t’ to something it really means they ‘won’t.’ Everybody can stop using drugs, many people won’t stop using drugs.
The good news for addicts is that people can and do change. No matter how far the individual has fallen as a result of their addiction they should be able to get a second chance in life. Most will need some help in the form of drug addiction treatment, but it is readily available locally.
As a clinician, one of the questions I asked virtually every client as a kind of screening question to see where they were at was “Do you think you have the ability to stay sober?” Most people hesitantly said they believe they can. A few said absolutely, I’m sure of it, I know deep down I can. However, a significant number of people ‘got honest ’and said they didn’t think they can do it. They did not believe they had the ability to get clean and stay sober.
For these people, this is the first issue to be addressed. If a person really does not believe they can achieve something, why would they bother even trying? Their chosen attitude is one of failure but one can adopt a positive attitude to get clean and live sober.
Why Do People Believe They Lack The Ability To Stop Drug Use?
The biggest thing holding people back their own beliefs. People believe in some pretty crazy things. I used to believe that all people from New York were bad drivers. Is that true? No. But it didn’t stop me from believing it and acting on it. I gave them plenty of room on the road.
Many people believe they cannot get sober. Is it true? No. But, if the belief is strong enough they will act out of the belief, the not the truth. In other words, they will act as if they cannot get sober therefore they will not get sober.
- A belief is simply a thought that is repeated over and over again until it seems like the truth. So when an addict is saying “I can’t get clean”, “this will never work for me” etc. it is essentially digging their own grave, and with each repetition adding another shovel of dirt to the casket at the bottom.
- An important truth of life is that people act out of beliefs not facts.t to do? We need to identify and challenge the underlying beliefs that lead to the false idea that the addict lacks the ability to get clean and live sober. addicts need to clear away negativity to allow proper motivation to get clean and sober.
Beliefs That Support The False Idea ‘I Can’t Stop Using Drugs’
There are a number of false beliefs and blind alleys some people of stumbled into when they question their ability to get clean and sober. The greatest danger of getting lost in the maze of false believes is the procrastination that occurs in getting started on a life of drug and alcohol recovery. For some, it’s not only procrastination but it is a block they never overcome and never get clean and sober.
Here are some of the false believes in faulty conclusions people have arrived at:
- The past dictates the future: “I said to myself 100 times I’m going to quit and I’ve never been able to do it.” It is said that Thomas Edison tried over 2000 ways to make a light-bulb work, on the 2001st time he succeeded. The trick is he tried something different each time. An addict will try the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
- Hopelessness and Despair: a number of sober people, and professionals to believe that the motivation to change comes from a person “hitting bottom”. People hold onto their addiction until it destroys everything good in their life and eventually they reach a critical pain point. Hopefully, the pain of continuing to use becomes too great and they change and start to explore recovery. But for some, that pain point gets them stuck and keeps them stuck without being able to see a way out.
- Addicts fear change: I have had lots of people in early recovery tell me that there are more scared of being sober than they are of continuing to use. It’s kind of like “the devil I know is more comfortable than the one I don’t know.” They also really can’t get their head around the idea of possibly living without drugs for the rest of their life. It’s pretty inconceivable.
- Addicts are lazy and don’t want to do the work: okay, I know that was harsh. The reality is we know exactly how to get clean and live sober; that’s not a mystery. The trick is it that it involves doing the work. Addicts often engage in magical thinking they want the results without doing the work. A sure sign of impending relapse is when someone says recovery is so boring – there is even a name for it, ‘The Boredom Relapse‘ which is simply not doing the work.
Reflection Worksheet: I Have The Ability To Gain Abstinence From Drugs And Alcohol
Here is a reflection worksheet. These positive affirmations and questions are designed to reinforce the idea that you have the ability to achieve abstinence from drug use.
Take your time and reflect on the ideas below:
I am forming new ideas, changing old beliefs and establishing new habits to improve my life and increase my overall satisfaction by stopping drug use.
I am determined to continue to practice the healthy patterns I have learned and established. The strength necessary to successfully form and keep new habits is stored within me.
I have patience with myself when creating challenging new routines. Sometimes it takes days or even months to form new patterns of behavior, but I have the patience to keep trying.
Repetition is my key to success. In order for me to turn new activities into habits, I must practice repetition. Every day, I perform my new activities with hard work and great effort. As I practice repetition, new behaviors become easier. I must practice, practice, practice
Even when I feel tempted to give up, I push myself to repeat it one more time. I share my goals with those closest to me and rally their support. With the help of my loved ones and my own reminders, I am successful!
When establishing new habits, I take it one day and one habit at a time. An easy pace helps me gradually make a permanent change. I forgive myself if there is a setback and jump right back up on my feet to avoid getting discouraged.
Today, I visualize myself living the life I deserve. I fight against all temptation because the rewards in my future outweigh the sacrifices I am making right now.
- What are some new habits of sobriety I have begun to practice?
- Am I being patient and keeping a steady pace?
- Who are the people I can count on for support?
I Want to Change My Life: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression and AddictionRewired: A Bold New Approach To Addiction and Recovery Paperback – April 28, 2015Achieve Anything in Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams and Accomplish12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery: Avoiding RelapseSwitch: How to Change Things When Change Is HardWillpower Is Not Enough: Why We Don’t Succeed at Change
Your Purpose In Life Is NOT To Be A Slave To Addiction (4 minute video)
Everything you need to transform your life is already at your fingertips. you have all the resources necessary to make a positive change in your life.
Without question, the ability to stop using drugs lies within you. Ability coupled with motivation and attitude are the three necessary key ingredients for getting ready to engage in a life of abstinence, getting clean, and living sober.
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Some Really Good Resources
- Understanding Drug Use and Addiction (Drugabuse.gov) – Explains thatt hose who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to.
- Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction (Drugabuse.gov) Addiction is a treatable disease. Research in the science of addiction and the treatment of substance use disorders has led to the development of evidence-based interventions that help people stop abusing drugs and resume productive lives.