On page 137 of the Big Book, the author provides a shockingly detailed description of one man’s demise after two weeks of binge drinking: “After two weeks of drinking, he had placed his toe on the trigger of a loaded shotgun– the barrel was in his mouth.” It’s a graphic depiction, but it shows a situation that many addicts can be driven to. Even if it’s not physical, we can sometimes feel like a loaded gun is sitting right in our mouths, ready to go off. The agony and stress of our addiction can be that intense.
Self-destructive tendencies are innate in all of us. Just like we have the capacity to make decisions and exhibit behaviors that will do us good, we have the same capacity to do the opposite. Whether we’re addicts, have been addicted in the past, or have never touched a substance before makes absolutely no difference. We’re all capable of the same thing.
With that said, addicts do tend to have a higher propensity to display self-destructive behaviors during their addiction. After all, the very nature of substance abuse is nothing if not destructive. Self-destruction is, unfortunately, just one of the many results of the crazy mind warp that our addiction locks us in. As The Big Book says, “Yet no alcoholic [or addict], soberly analyzing his destructive behavior, whether the destruction fell on the dining-room furniture or his own moral fiber, can claim “soundness of mind” for himself.”
While we can’t blame ourselves for an addiction we have no control over, it’s important that we learn to use treatment as a way to not only get over addiction, mend our spiritual maladies, and make amends with those we’ve hurt– but also as a means of leaving our destructive behaviors in the past.
What are self-destructive behaviors?
Self-destructive behaviors usually stem from patterns of withholding or not completely expressing our feelings and emotions. If we really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, many of the primary causes of substance abuse stem from the same sort of patterns. Self-destructive behaviors aren’t necessarily always physical, but they do all do the same thing– placate our problems, instead of solving them. Many self-destructive behaviors even make our problems much worse. When addicted, our addiction is obviously the biggest thing we think of as destructive, but there are a number of additional factors that are just as destructive. Telling ourselves that we can’t be helped, or that it’s too late for us is self-destructive. Rationalizing our addiction is self-destructive. Convincing ourselves that our addiction doesn’t need treatment, and/or that we can handle it on our own is also self-destructive (if we could handle addiction on our own, we would have done so long ago.) On the other end of the spectrum, there are also seemingly pleasurable things we do that are also self-destructive, though we may not think so. These are usually the behaviors that are immediately gratifying, but simply placate the deeper issue. If a trigger of ours is a spouse, for instance, and we simply cuss them out and tell them they’re no good before, say, hitting them, we’ve only added additional stress to a situation that was already toxic, even if it feels good in the moment. Self-destructive behaviors can be expressed in many, many different ways.
How can treatment help me leave my self destructive behaviors in the past?
At treatment centers like Thrive Treatment, we focus on getting to the root of issues that cause us to use substances. For some of us, it’s past abuses, or traumatic experiences. For others, it’s an unhealthy living environment or trouble with expressing emotions. Still others can attribute substance use to being too stressed or too overworked. Finding the “why” behind our addictions is two-fold, however. By identifying what it is that causes us to use or drink, we often open up a path that allows us to see where our self-destructive behavior started, and why. You’d be quite surprised by how often the “where” and “why” of our substance use correlates with the “where” and “why” of other destructive behaviors.
Through treatment, we also learn new ways to deal with the issues that caused our substance use and destructive behaviors, and we’re able to do so in an environment that allows us to make mistakes and learn more about ourselves in the process.
In essence, treatment allows us to work through the kinks in our spirits, minds, and bodies in order to deal with the emotions that cause our self-destruction in healthier ways. The way we look at it, even though it is sometimes difficult to understand why we exhibit certain self-destructive behaviors, being able to work out the necessary strategies to funnel those behaviors into more positive alternatives is very effective in helping us eliminate them altogether, and that’s what treatment allows us to do so effectively.
Finally, treatment helps us leave destructive behaviors in the past by providing us with the outlets we need to express ourselves without judgment or repercussion. Treatment is a community. When the first treatment groups were founded in the 1930s, community was the largest part of what made them so effective, even before all of the guidelines of treatment, governance and procedures as we know them now were fleshed out. The community spirit treatment fosters provides us with a platform to reel in destructive behaviors for good!
Thrive Treatment is an intensive outpatient addiction treatment center located in Santa Monica, California. With over thirty years of clinical experience and thousands of success stories, we know the strategies and methods to help you end your addiction for good. Get started today by calling (888) 975-8474!