There are a lot of folks that say that seeing is believing. That’s true, to an extent. There’s plenty of things we want to see to believe. Even more that we have to see to believe. Cops usually have to see a crime scene to know it happened. We have to see a storm coming to decide to evacuate. We have to see a million dollars before we believe it’s ours.
However, when it comes to addiction treatment, it’s important to remember that just because we may not always see physical progress, doesn’t mean that there’s not a wonderful transformation going on inside. Not only is treatment largely a mental process (remember, The Big Book tells us that we’re combatting a “mental obsession and a physical allergy”), but what are our eyes are trained to see as “progress” may not really be what we should be looking for at all. Think about it: for many of us, this may be our first time going through treatment. How can we really know what to count as progress? To us, simply not craving a substance any more may be suitable progress. However, if we still have untouched issues that contributed to our substance abuse laying right underneath the surface, how can we truly judge “where we are” in the process? Even for those of us that have gone through addiction treatment before– every experience is so nuanced and individual that it’s almost impossible to “predict” exactly where we should be simply by looking for physical signs! Recovery is lifelong for a reason!
Ok, so what exactly am I believing in?
Here’s a kicker: belief in treatment doesn’t actually mean believing in treatment itself.
Funny to hear, right? Actually, Step Two of The Twelve Step program says as much. In treatment we aren’t demanded to believe anything about the process. Every step and skill taught is merely a suggestion, and we have the total right to take it or leave it. So when we refer to “belief” in treatment, we mean believing in ourselves. We mean taking what we learn, the strategies we develop, and the tools we forge through treatment, and believing that they can actually work in our own situations– then actually using them. Remember, even the most incredible, progressive of treatment programs can’t help us recover without our say-so.
Here at Thrive Treatment, we know just how important believing that we can make a change in our lives is to helping us actually do that. That’s why our programs focus on building life skills, fostering a sense of community, and learning how to process and discard the self-defeating stories and behaviors that keep us stuck. We get it– it’s not always easy to believe in ourselves right away in treatment. For many of us, our addiction can sap away belief in even what we thought we knew about ourselves. Addiction may have forced us into the deepest, darkest corners of our lives, and created a person that we didn’t recognize. Regaining who we are takes time, as does beginning to believe in ourselves again. Through community, we grow and learn with others that are also struggling with the same things we are. We organically build camaraderie with our peers, and eventually forge a family that helps us believe again– both in our ability to recover, and in our ability to conquer anything else that life throws at us.
What does The Big Book say about believing in ourselves?
It’s ironic, really. When The Big Book was originally published in 1939 by Alcoholics Anonymous founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob Smith, both men seemed like they would have had every right to negate the importance of believing in ourselves. Smith had been an alcoholic since his undergraduate years at Dartmouth, and by the time he teamed up with Bill W. and began what we now know as AA, he’d been to dozens and dozens of rehab centers over the span of some thirty years, to no avail. He was a certified physician, and all of his belief in practice and medicine could not seem to curb his drinking. Bill W. was a stoic drinker as well, and was threatened more than once with being locked up due to wet brain. He drank so often that doctors routinely advised him that he was at risk of killing himself with every additional drink he took.
Yet both men made sure to highlight the importance of belief early and often in the book that would become the metaphorical addiction bible for addicts. In fact, they stressed two forms of belief– belief in God, and belief in ourselves. Even though they had every reason not to believe based on their own experiences, they knew that in order to combat a spiritual, mental, and physical ailment, they had to believe in something: “Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.”
Believing in ourselves gives us great power in addiction treatment. It allows us to see progress where we wouldn’t otherwise look, sunny skies when everything seems gray, and a future, that, a few months ago, we may never have imagined!
Thrive Treatment is an outpatient addiction treatment center in sunny Santa Monica, California. We invest ourselves into our clients and their families, and we provide care that is transformative and long-lasting. We all have a purpose, and addiction simply isn’t help. We help our clients discover that purpose. Get started today by calling (888) 975-8474.