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Getting Sober Help: Digging Deep for the Roots of Addiction | XL Health Blog

Getting Sober Help: Digging Deep for the Roots of Addiction

Posted on 01. Aug, 2014 by in Wellness

Sober living is more than just quitting the use of alcohol or drugs. In most cases, one is blindfolded when he or she is in the throes of an addiction cycle. Yet, slowly, little by little, as the process of sober living continues to deepen and grow, the blindfold eventually lifts.

However, it doesn’t happen on its own. Like any psychological process of healing, it requires participation. Healing rarely happens spontaneously; it requires that we engage, explore, and enlighten ourselves.

Considering the fact that addiction is a pattern of self-harm, recovery then must include an exploration of the reason for that self-harm. Typically, self-harm develops out of one or two reasons, both of which are related to one another. The first is attempting to cope with difficult emotions and not knowing how to do so. Perhaps a parent was an alcoholic and they modeled a dysfunctional way to deal with intense emotions – keeping them repressed and out of sight so that they didn’t have to be experienced.

The second is reason for the self-destruction of addiction is a belief in unworthiness. Somewhere there is a part of the self that feels shamed or rejected. The choice to drink, to deny the voice that wants more air, to continue to drink or use drugs is a choice of self-harm. It is a self-abusive habit, and in a way, it’s an attempt to destroy a part of you that feels the unworthiness. Shame and self-hatred are directly related to the destructive choices of addiction.

Powerlessness is the belief that power is outside of your control. This is not to say that the person with the addiction is to blame because he or she is powerless. Instead, it’s recognizing that powerlessness is often rooted in unconscious beliefs about oneself, such as being bad, ugly, or unlovable.

This is having what is sometimes called an external locus of control. To explain this further, psychologist Julian Rotter introduced and coined the term, locus of control, in the 1950’s. To put it more simply, your locus of control is what you deem to have power over the successes and failures in your life. Everyone has the power to do achieve success, to overcome obstacles, and create a life they want; however, underlying beliefs keep us stuck in addictions, patterns of powerlessness, and dysfunctional relationships with ourselves and others. It is often unresolved trauma or the dynamics in the early home environment that contribute to beliefs in being shameful or unlovable and that, in turn, lead to feeling of powerless.

Ultimately, achieving sober living means addressing the underlying issues, learning healthy coping mechanisms, and building strong support networks. And even if all these problems are addressed, it’s true that there still might be a return to old habits. Yet, when all issues – emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual – are resolved, relapse will likely disappear. And although, there might still be a few steps backwards, the overall recovery process will be forward moving, creating enduring sober living and even a joyful existence.

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