There is much debate about the causes of addiction: environment, genetics, moral failing, physical changes, emotional trauma and so on. While interesting intellectually, these things have nothing to do with quitting. If I’m acting out, the reasons for my alcoholism and other addictions don’t really matter; what matters is stopping.
If I’m not acting out, my first priority is still not acting out. Then, I begin the work of finding out why I have a compulsion to turn off my logic and emotions — what it is about those things that frightens me — but the priority is still abstinence. If I’m acting out, I’m creating self-induced insanity, and how am I to examine my behavior in that condition? I already know how addicts act; now I have to learn how to be sober.
By the same token, I need to forget about assigning blame for my addictions. Learning why is different from making excuses. I may not be responsible for having become addicted, but I am the only person responsible for my recovery. Blaming beer commercials, sexy magazine covers, the neighborhood, my friends, or issues with my parents for my relapses just doesn’t fly. Those things may make it difficult to avoid thinking about taking the “easy” way out, but they are not the cause of my making that choice. They are what some fellowships call accessory behavior, and they are avoidable for the most part. We simply don’t look, we stay away, we don’t engage. (No, it’s not impossible, if we make the effort. Difficult, yes; painful, sometimes; but not impossible.)
Blaming others or outside things for our continued acting out is a sign that we are not really in recovery — that we are not taking responsibility for our actions. No one can make me drink but me. No one can cause me to try to control others but me. No one can choose to give in to my addictions but me. I am responsible for taking care of myself. Blaming is beside the point. It gets in the way of clear thinking, it’s denial, and it’s one of the things that addicts do best. It isn’t recovery.
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