The Reason Why Only Some People Escape Addiction

The recent death of Amy Winehouse is another reminder of the destructiveness of addiction. I never met her, but I’ve known lots of people who ended up where she did. It always reminds me of how lucky I am – if luck is the right word. It begs the obvious question, why do only some people get to escape their addiction? Is it just the throw of the dice, or is there something else going on here?

Ambivalence Kills

Most addicts die from ambivalence – that’s what I think. For years I battled with two competing urges in my mind; the compulsion to keep on drinking and a desperate urge to stop. These two incompatible ideas managed to live uncomfortable in my head for two decades. For most of that time it was the urge to drink that demanded most of my attention; it was the other urge that saved me though.

The explanation for my escape from addiction isn’t hard to understand. The urge to live became so strong that it overpowered the compulsion to self-destruct. I really do think it is that simple – I say ‘think’ here because it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve deluding myself.

Why Me?

The real question then is why did my desire to live become strong enough to overpower my addiction? I put this down to seeds that were planted in my childhood. There were times during my formative years when my mind felt at peace; particularly during a period when I was practicing martial arts. This wasn’t enough to stop me falling into addiction, but the memory remained powerful. I knew for a fact that there could be a satisfactory life without the booze – this made all the difference.

It was this desire to recapture a healthy state of mind that fed my desire for recovery. I failed at one treatment option after another, but I never gave up completely. Two years before I finally became sober I spent a month meditating in a Thai temple. I experienced the most intense feelings of mental well-being in my life at that time. I returned to alcohol but this experience, along with the seeds planted years before, turned out to be enough to bring me to a final solution. This meant that I had the motivation to get the most from Thamkrabok – the Buddhist temple where I finally quit.

Why Some People Never Escape Addiction

Some addicts just don’t seem ever manage to develop a strong enough urge to quit. Maybe they have just never had those experiences that show what is possible with a clear mind; hearing about it is not enough, you need to experience it. The internal urge to self-destruct just never meets its match – it eventually gets its way.

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3 thoughts on “The Reason Why Only Some People Escape Addiction

  1. Hi Paul, I would have to agree with you on many levels with this post. I think for me my resolve came in football. I played it with such intensity and doggedness when I was young it quite literally transported me. I now find some of my happiest moments playing soccer, I hope to play for many years to come.

    I was told by someone recently that my nature has something to do with it, that I seem to find a a soft, or manageable place with which to land, or something along those lines. It got me thinking how when I was an addict, I seemed to only do anything to assist my life once it had fallen apart at the edges. I needed to lose many things to do anything, but as soon as I was on top again, my life would disintegrate again.

    I’m rounding the corner for 2 years clean, and I could pertain to many things that have happened along the way that have kept me clean, marriage, friends, enough of feeling numb and bent out of shape, counselling, medication and writing, but whatever it is Paul, I’m glad I took the opportunity, I’m glad I pushed through, because there were times as I’m sure you will contest to, that I never thought it possible that I could be living this life I have today.

    Safe Journey,


  2. I have to say that i disagree with you both. Throughout the process of my recovery, i realize that the feelings of hopelessness and low self worth are so powerful that my solution is to self destruct. That is the root of my addicton. I have many great talents and gifts, but there have been hurts that occured in my life that warped my perception of reality and of myself. Addiction is much deeper than not being able to “fight the urge”. Divive intervention and surrender are necessary in order to lose the desire to use. After nine years of sobriety, i still struggle with that desire, but i understand that its not the plan in store for me. Addicts struggle because they suffer from a disease that is inside of their minds – this struggle is much more powerful and wins over willpower. Surrendering to the “divine” for change of perception, a deeper understanding of yourself and your past, and humbling yourself enough to receive wise counsel are all effective in getting to the very root of addiction. I am very grateful that i can live a full conscious life today and that i have been saved from myself with grace by God.

    1. Hi Redeemed, I suppose the main thing is that whatever you believe works for you, and what I believe works for me. I do subscribe to the idea of ‘letting go’, but I’m happily agnostic when it comes to divine internventions. The good news is that we can believe in different things and still find happiness in life.

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