My work as the consulting psychologist for a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center for men taught me a few things.
Most of the men were clear that they wanted to overcome their primary addiction. Additionally, many of them were clear that they didn’t want anything else to change. They didn’t want to lose their friends, their jobs, their marriages or their homes…
With a little probing, however, it became clear that the motivation for dealing with their addiction was often not about the addiction itself, but about preserving those things they didn’t want to lose. The addiction was putting their jobs, or their marriages, or their properties at risk. If they could secure all those things and still abuse alcohol, that would be their choice.
It is no wonder that so many treatment programs become recycling programs. The client stops drinking while he is in the program and for some time afterwards. He feels better physically. Things feel more secure in his life, so after a time he starts drinking again. As the drinking escalates, the risks return: he is charged with impaired driving, or his wife threatens to leave…again. He returns to the treatment program and the whole cycle repeats. I have seen this cycle repeat as many as eight times for some.
Why does it happen? Drug addiction treatment Prescott AZ says, “It happens because the substance abuse is often not the primary problem.” It may have become a serious problem, but the primary problem usually turns out to be some aspect of life that is keeping the person stuck… and turning to alcohol.
Within a year or two after the initial elation of leaving my own alcohol addiction behind, I knew something else was wrong. As it turned out, the heavy drinking had been masking a deeper issue. I was a tenured university professor, but towards the end of that career I felt stuck and unfulfilled. The stuckness was not about anything external, but about an internal voice that was telling me I should be doing something else. The more I resisted, the more trapped I felt. I was confused, because being stuck in a good job is usually not considered a bad thing.
Nevertheless, the years that followed my quitting the alcohol and leaving the University have been very fulfilling. In fact, so many things changed, both internal and external, that my quitting drinking can be seen only as the first step in a transformational process.
When someone comes to me with anxiety, grief, a marriage bump or an addiction, I help them deal with their problem. That’s what psychologists do. But what I find personally fulfilling is watching that client transform into someone much more alive and excited about life, as the problem they came with fades into history.
Internal and external problems that keep you stuck inevitably arise. That’s life. However, when you find yourself stuck, I encourage you not only to find and fix the underlying problem, but also to look at your situation as an opportunity for transformation. Have you already experienced this?