Addiction is a highly personal matter. When you become addicted to something, regardless of whether it’s a certain behavior or a drug, it’s quite normal to feel guilty about it. We attribute our mistakes entirely to ourselves, and we’re right to do so – to take responsibility for our shortcomings.
Guilt is like pain and rejection. There’s a reason for these negative emotions, and they’re to help us improve. The person who has never felt guilty is no saint – they’re simply incapable of proper reflection. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, but the defining deed is in how we improve on our mistakes. Through apologizing, displaying true humility and working towards avoiding the original behavior in the future, we grow. We become better people.
However, things take a wrong turn when guilt and shame don’t ever get the chance to turn to remorse and accountability. When instead of owning up to a mistake, it simply drives us to pity ourselves, and further do things that create a feeling of shame. It’s normal to feel guilty for doing something wrong – in turn, we try to avoid that behavior. But with addiction, which is repetitive in nature and often prevails even when we don’t want it to, the guilt only grows. And grows. And grows.
Some people take addiction into their own hands and realize one day that they have something more important to live for – something that feeds them emotionally enough to completely kick the habit, whether it’s smoking, gambling or cocaine. Others don’t have that ability – maybe they feel they have nothing to live up to, and the idea of an optimistic future falls flat on its face in the cycle of addiction and negativity. Regardless of whether it’s a question of circumstance or personality, many struggles with finding the motivation to stay sober, just as many with depression struggle to see things in a positive light.
It’s in moments like that where we must lay aside the fact that our behavior is our responsibility, and ask for help. Sometimes, we need help to clean up our own messes – and addiction is a mess. We must also realize that when we reach out to others, we’re not being weak. We’re being strong.
It Takes Strength to Admit Weakness
Sure, some might take it as a cliché, but there’s an important truth in realizing how much strength it takes to admit needing help. When we refuse the help of others, we’re telling the world that we believe in ourselves enough to solve our problems on our own. In cases where that’s true, it’s an admirable quality. Everyone should have the opportunity to struggle alone – that’s what makes us stronger.
But there are times when that struggle will just break us. And it’s timed like that where putting aside pride takes guts. Opening to others and revealing your every insecurity and personal issue just to improve takes courage. You’re at risk – placing yourself at the mercy of professionals, friends, family, and strangers pledging to help you. You must trust them, and put your situation in their hands – and hope that they will help you get through this.
In addiction putting your trust in others is especially difficult. Lying to yourself to avoid the harsh reality of addiction is often the first step in many roads to recovery – the stage of denial – so a recovering addict is only all too aware of how easy it is to lie, and put on a mask. Deliberately asking others for help, then, means taking the risk that it’ll all backfire on you because you’re willing to go that far for things to get better again.
Never Giving Up
Relationships work the same way, with rejection. Early on, after your first two or three relationships, getting back on the horse and looking for a new partner can be extremely daunting. Falling in love hurts, and every step you take towards becoming closer to someone in a relationship just means accepting a whole new magnitude of pain from the potential breakup.
Yet accepting that risk and going out there to find love anyways isn’t a sign of weakness, stupidity or utter masochism – it’s strength. The strength and confidence to take that leap, once again, without any guarantee of what the future will hold, for the promise of a loving embrace and a life time’s worth of memories.
With addiction, you must take the risk that others may help you or hurt you – and in return, you may find yourself surrounded by amazing, inspirational people, who motivate you to keep working on yourself, to keep on working on your projects, your hobbies, your career, and your relationships. If you refuse to get help, however, you’re depriving others of the pleasure of helping someone out, and you’re depriving yourself of the possibilities you’d have in the company of others.
Addiction Is (Sometimes) Part of Life
To be addicted to something is just another obstacle in life. Life can be full of obstacles. Getting laid off is one. Getting a divorce. Suffering from depression. Losing a limb. Losing a friend. Losing a home. Getting arrested for something you didn’t think through. Making a mistake in your most desperate hour.
The difference between the worst life and the best life sometimes boils down to just the tiniest of moments, a handful of seconds scattered throughout a person’s life. Yet it’s not up to the universe to decide how it all goes – it’s up to you. With every passing second, you have the chance to claw your way to where you want to be. You have the chance to ask for help. To ask for forgiveness. To heal wounds. To sweat, bleed and cry your way to better living.
If you want to overcome addiction, then you must realize that it’s just like any other obstacle. It’ll require time, dedication, passion. You’ll need something to fight for. Something that puts the fire in your soul, that gives you a reason to ignore every single negative thought you have because you know that if you don’t go to that meeting, if you don’t put down that drink, if you don’t ignore that urge, then you’re betraying your very sense of self. And if you don’t get back up and get back on track after making a mistake, if you waste time blaming things instead of improving, then you’ll never get better.
Do what you need to do – even if it means taking risks, and doing things you’re uncomfortable with, like making new friends, going to therapy, or entering a sober living home.