This is a continuation from A Self Directed Program for Addiction Recovery Part 1
In the last post we talked about how this program for breaking away from addiction would involve four elements:
In part 2 of this series we will focus on principles and motive.
Principles of Recovery
The Principles of Your Recovery
The principles of your recovery refer to a number of assumptions that you are going to need to make in order to get the ball rolling. They are like the rules of the game, and they need to be treated as such. It is best not to think of these assumptions as being carved in stone, and you are likely going to need to make adjustment to these over time.
There are a number of questions that you should always ask before adding any principle to your recovery program:
- Is it necessary?
- Is it reasonable?
- Is it clear?
If the principle does not meet these three criteria, it will be best to not use it.
In order to use your principles effectively, you will need to start with a clean sheet. This means that you need to forget about everything you have ever heard about addiction recovery – at least for the moment. You may decide later on to reintroduce some these ideas as principles, but from now on it is best to only deal with assumptions that you have decided deserve to be in your program. You will also want to make sure that any of these old ideas that you want to add to your principles do not conflict with any other principle and that they meet the 3 criteria mentioned above.
From now own, it is best to ignore any ideas about recovery unless you have decided to add them to your principles. This is not to say that you will not be interested in these ideas – by ignore I mean that you will not allow them to impact your approach to this new life. Remember, if this idea does not have enough value to you to be added to your principles, you don’t need it at all. You are trying to create a program that is as minimal as possible, so there is no room for fluff.
It is your job to find the principles that are going to work for you. Here are some of the assumptions that I would suggest you start with:
- You have the ability to create your own recovery program
- You know better than anyone else about what is good for you
- You have the power to end your addiction forever
- If you break away from addiction your life will improve
- You can go it alone in recovery if you need to
- You have the right to try to build the type of life that will satisfy you
- Challenges in life are a test and a chance to grow
Rules of the Game in Recovery
The principles are like the rules of the game. They set the parameters for your program, and you can look to them for guidance when planning your escape. So if one of your assumptions is that you have the ability to build your own recovery program, it gives you permission to do just that. The only assumptions that you should use are the ones that feel right to you – if they stop feeling right then you just get rid of them. The important thing is that you treat these principles as true until you have good reason not to.
The one thing you want to try to avoid is messing around with these principles during the first few months of your recovery. This is why it is so vital that the assumptions you choose now are solid enough to hold you over until you feel settled in your new life. I would recommend that you only set sail on this journey once you feel confident that these principles are going to keep you afloat.
Another way to look at your assumptions is that these will provide you with the tools to help you achieve your purpose in recovery. If these assumptions interfere with your ability to achieve this purpose then you will need to fix that. Not only do you need a valid reason to quit, but you have to be confident that you will be able to achieve this goal. So if your purpose is to live a life of constant bliss and one of your assumptions is that challenges in life will help you grow there will obviously be a problem.
Motive for Recovery
The next important element of your new life will be your motivation. This is arguably the most important of all of these elements.
Most humans struggle to make major changes in their life, so this is not just a problem for people who have fallen into addiction. Undergoing any type of major change is always going to involve a good deal work so you are only likely to go through all of this if they feel they have a good reason to. No matter how bad your life has become as a result of alcohol or drugs, it is almost certain that you will have plenty of good reasons not to change – even if it is just the lame belief that it is better the devil you know.
So long as you hold onto the idea that alcohol or drugs can be a positive force in your life, it will be extremely difficult for you will be able to quit these substances. Why would you even want to quit? You must have a strong reason for breaking away from addiction, and it needs to be compelling enough that you will be willing to commit 100% to this new way of living. This motivation for quitting has to to be solid enough that there is no danger of it wavering in response to any challenges that may arise. Your motivation for quitting needs to be so strong, that you will be willing to do anything to make it a reality.
I can’t tell you why you should quit alcohol or drugs. If the reasons of your loved ones and the addiction experts are not enough to convince you to change your life I doubt that mine will fare any better. The reasons for why other people think you should change are not going to be worth much – the only thing that really matters here are your own reasons. You need to find a motivation that is really going to get your juices going, and if you can’t do that you are kind of screwed.
It is vital that you spend some time thinking about why you want to quit drinking. In fact, you shouldn’t stop thinking about it (except for toilet breaks) until you can come up with the most powerful reason possible. This is the first step of this journey to a new life, and if you mess this up the chances are that it will be the cause of your later undoing. I’m not going to tell you what your reason for quitting should be, but there are some things that I want you to consider when deciding what this should be:
Your reason for giving up alcohol and drugs needs to be clear and precise. You do not want some type of rambling statement that is full of words but doesn’t really say anything. It is best that you get your reasons down to a couple of sentences – or even better one sentence. Avoid any unnecessary words and remove any type of vagueness.
Do not use the word ‘should’ anywhere in your mission statement – in fact, it would be even better if you could remove it from your vocabulary altogether. “Should” is a weasel word, and when people say that they ‘should’ do something, it is the same as them saying they are not going to do it.
The reason for why you want to quit your addiction has to be positive in order of it to remain powerful. At the end of my addiction, I would have been happy just for the pain to stop, but there is a problem with this type of reason for quitting addiction – it doesn’t work for long. There is a good deal of truth in the statement that ‘time heals all wounds’, and this means that once we begin to feel better we are no longer so easily satisfied with just having the pain stop. We can then begin to downplay the seriousness of our former problems and before we know it we are right back where we started.
Our reason for stopping should not be conditional – for example, it is not a good idea to use “getting my girlfriend back” as our reason for quitting. Your life is going to improve as a result of breaking away from addiction, but if you try to micromanage things too much it is going to blow up in your face. The problem is that we don’t really know what is best for us, but if we stick with our plan for a sober life we can end up with far better than we ever imagined.
The best motivation for giving up an addiction can be the reason for why you developed this problem in the first place. I talked about this before in an older post – The Best Reason to Quit Addiction is the Reason You Fell into Addiction
There is a video and podcast dealing with the material in this post at this link – Motivation and Principles of Addiction Recovery