The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is specific and definitive in its definition of alcoholism, which can be applied as a definition of addiction. Addiction, according to the AA philosophy, is a disease characterized by three components, in three different spheres: a physical allergy, a mental obsession, and a spiritual malady. As it’s explained throughout the book, the physical allergy occurs when drugs or alcohol are consumed, and sets off a reaction in the body to crave another, and another, and another. The mental obsession is that even when an addict is off of a substance and entirely sober, the craving to use is so strong that it overpowers any rational thoughts that would tell him or her that it’s not a good idea to use. The spiritual malady is best described in The Big Book: “we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” The spiritual malady is a sickness in our soul, developed over time from hurts and traumas, poor coping behaviors and personality traits, that can only be truly uncovered by looking deep within ourselves.
Addiction is, by no stretch of the imagination, our fault. No man wakes up one day with the outright intention of becoming an “alcoholic” or a “drug addict”. Even in his deepest denial, even in his greatest enjoyment of the euphoria put forth by substances, he still does not want to be someone who is physically, mentally, and spiritually sick as a result of addiction. Numerous factors which have compiled upon themselves since before his birth have predisposed him to addiction and the substances themselves have taken over his mind in a way he cannot control. As The Big Book famously suggests, we are utterly powerless against addiction when we try to fight it ourselves. Thankfully, we never have to fight alone.
Although addiction isn’t our fault, the way we respond to our addiction and take charge of our recovery is our responsibility. By seeking treatment– be it at an inpatient facility or an outpatient facility like Thrive Treatment– we’re making the statement that we are willing to believe that we have what it takes to beat addiction. We are taking responsibility for our addiction when we take responsibility for our recovery. Nobody can recover for us. This statement is huge, and sets the path for a successful recovery journey. Just as addiction is a mental illness, recovery relies on mental strength.
Taking responsibility doesn’t stop at declaring that we need help and making the brave decision to find treatment. Throughout the recovery process, responsibility is preached and expected at all times, from both us and the people we surround ourselves with. As The Big Book states, in time, responsibility will become such a large part of our recovery journey that we will even “awaken to a new sense of responsibility for others” as well.
How can I take responsibility for my addiction?
Admitting that only you can find recovery and create a new life for yourself, then seeking treatment is the first step. Committing yourself enitrely to your recovery is the second.
Thrive Treatment, like many other treatment facilities across the nation, offers outpatient services. Our treatment plans don’t isolate clients in one setting away from the rest of the world, and it’s this concept of bringing our addiction recovery community right to our clients’ doors that we feel provides our amazing results. However, this does mean that the responsibility lies on the client to attend the meetings, therapies, and activities designed for them. Sometimes, when we’re tasked with doing something difficult or challenging for our own good, we falter at the added responsibility of doing it. At these times, it’s important that we remember that addiction doesn’t just leave us when we declare that we want treatment. Ridding ourselves of the factors that caused our addiction takes time, and, more importantly, commitment. The Big Book couldn’t illustrate this point any better. It says that “the idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.” If we were able to control our addiction without treatment and the support of a recovery community, we would have done it a long time ago. The fact that we decided to pursue treatment speaks to the fact that we know we need it, and the millions of successful recovery stories speak to the fact that treatment works. All we have to do is stay committed to it.
I didn’t cause my addiction. Why should I be responsible for it?
For some of us, substance abuse was a result of circumstances that we didn’t make, and that we couldn’t fix. Adverse life experiences like abuse, trauma, neglect, and undue stress happen in our lives. After using substances for an extended period of time, we became addicted, and we often feel like our addiction never would have happened as long as that stressor was never there. We also tend to feel that we are justified in our using because of what has happened to us. Since we the responsibility of events external to us is not ours, then, by addiction-logic, the responsibility of events internal to us shouldn’t be ours either.
Unfortunately, our stressful live events were there, and a truth we come to accept is that stressful live events are always going to be there, everywhere we go. While addiction isn’t our fault, it is still our responsibility to control how we handle it.
It can be hard to understand the logic behind assuming responsibility for something we can’t control and didn’t cause, but we need look no further than The Big Book, which encourages us to go as far as to assume responsibility for others going through similar pain, for clarity.
The AA Responsibility Pledge reads as such: “I am responsible… When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”
Addiction is an illness that needs a responsible party to get rid of it. It won’t go away on its own, and it will only get worse if left unmanaged. We say we’re responsible for our addictions, even though we didn’t cause them, because in doing so, we give ourselves the keys to lock addiction away for good and in so doing give others the key to free themselves from addiction forever.
Acknowledging that we are powerless over addiction, but that we do have complete power in how we deal with it, is the entire goal behind assuming responsibility. If, as in AA, we are to be tasked with being there for others that need our help, we must first understand that responsibility begins within ourselves.
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, Thrive Treatment of Santa Monica offers premium outpatient treatment services that may be right for you. We’re just a phone call away from helping you reclaim the life addiction took from you. Call us today at (888)975-8474!