Treating addictions as if they were a bad habit

I chanced upon an interesting article that proposes a relatively “easy” take on beating addictions:

You Don’t Need Help to Beat an Addiction or a Bad Habit—Just Yourself

(Via Lifehacker.)

The central premise of this idea is contained in the article’s third paragraph, which basically treats addictions like they are bad habits, and you have to recognize the immediate bad effects they are having on your life.

The notion is related to ideas that addictions are not a disease or genetic disorder, such as mentioned here: Alcoholism is not a Disease and here: Myth of an ‘Addict Gene’ (Courtesy of Addiction Info.)

First, you have to realize that whatever the addiction is, it is causing you problems. Then you have to consider all the bad effects that the addiction is having on your life, right now. This is key, according to the article. It is easier to consider the immediate now rather than the long term later. This is understood by all addicts and alcoholics, “we want what we want, and we want it now.”

Once you realize the bad effects that the addiction is having on your life, focus and amplify those bad feelings, and eventually your behavior will change. Sort of like do-it-yourself aversion therapy.

Nice, in theory.

In short, to a serious addict this may sound like: “My drinking is bad. Really bad. It is messing up my life, my home life is being ruined by it, I’m about to lose my job, and losing all this will destroy me. OK, so if I focus on these bad feelings of losing all this stuff, I will start to prefer the things I am about to lose, and be less interested in drinking.” I am thinking that a person who is seriously in the grips of an addiction will find it difficult to follow along that line of rational thought.

Addicts generally feel that their addiction is helping them to cope with their problems, and only after much suffering and loss might they come around to the idea that their addiction is the source. By this time their mind and will is so affected by the addiction that it might prove difficult to realize the truth of their problem’s cause. The immediate gratification effect of drinking or using again may prove easier than mentally contemplating how this “habit” is destroying their life. Doing that may just generate more internal conflict: “I want a drink” combined with “No, this is bad, it is costing me such and such” may just yield a desire to drink again to ease the pain. The idea also assumes that the addict must seriously believe that the addiction is worse than their daily living activities. There may be a preference for the addiction versus the healthy life, if they feel that their healthy life has little value.

Support groups organized to reinforce this thinking that the immediate effect is bad could assist as I doubt that any serious addict could accomplish this on their own.

There is merit in the idea. It is an excellent way to avert sinful behavior. We all vow to have a “firm purpose of amendment” when we go to Confession. This idea sounds reminiscent of aids to maintaining virtue as proposed by various saints. Be vigilant on the destructive nature of sin, as it applies to your life now.

Anyway, it is something to mull over.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"