For those who have not experienced addiction, it is hard to understand why a person can not simply “say no,” or “stop” their addictive behavior when they choose to do so. To a person who has not experienced the struggle of addiction, stopping is just “a matter of willpower.” I can not tell you how many times I have heard this. If only it were that easy.
Even if the addicted individual could just stop, they would not, simply because they fail to see the real cause of their difficulties. It is not the booze, drugs, sexual liaisons gambling, etc. that is the problem; no, these things are relief from the real problem(s). In their addiction afflicted mind, the real problem is the boss at work, the wife at home, the troublesome kid in school, the multitude of people that “do not understand” them. The universe is against them. The world is out to get them.
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) does not call alcoholism a “cunning and baffling” disease without reason. Addiction is one of the few diseases (maybe the only one) that actually tries to talk its captives into staying addicted until they lose their mind, go to jail, or die. Loosing jobs, family, homes, status, money doesn’t matter because the disease convinces us it is not the addicted person’s fault. The goal is triumph of the addiction over the soul of the afflicted; the ultimate result of this is death. This scenario can be applied to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex addiction, and many more addictions.
What makes addiction unique among diseases is that the addicted is the major catalyst for their own recovery and sustainability. They have to fight every day to succeed in staying clean/sober, etc. I was told more than a few times in the rooms of recovery that “For every 10 drunks out there, 1 makes it to the rooms of AA. For every 10 of these, 1 will stay sober for five years.” That is some scary stuff.
If someone wants recovery, they have to work at it … really hard … every day. Every day we are in recovery, we are basically granted a reprieve from our disease, for that day. The next day, we start all over again. If the work required of each individual for their successful recovery is not done, every day, the foundation of that recovery will erode and become unstable. Remember: Our disease is “cunning and baffling.” Our disease waits for these opportunities to undermine our progress in recovery.
So it is that we must stand our ground, and fight every day for our recovery. Sometimes, even in recovery, we are still going to have hard days. Some days will even be downright shitty. Life does not stop because we choose recovery. The assholes of the world are not going to stop being assholes. How we deal with all that is what makes recovery the better option for us. If we want to live, and have a chance for a better life, then we must fight the demons of our addiction(s), against the overwhelming odds that face us. Some of us will even succeed.