Facing Your Powerlessness in Addiction Recovery

Even cancer can be defeated, and who would doubt that this will eventually be accomplished? We tell our children they can be anything they want to be if they work hard enough. Motivational speakers promise unlimited success and riches to those who are dedicated enough to get up whenever they fall and try, try, try. And people are instructed to repeat affirmations like “I am important and deserve to be happy” and “I am thankful for today” to convince their reluctant minds these memes are true. The word “powerless” has a prominent place in Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from addiction. There are many ways to interpret powerlessness in the context of addiction[i], but this post looks instead at powerlessness in a more universal context.

  • And people are instructed to repeat affirmations like “I am important and deserve to be happy” and “I am thankful for today” to convince their reluctant minds these memes are true.
  • Let’s face it when we control it, we’re not enjoying it, and when we’re enjoying it, we’re not controlling it.
  • Read on to learn more about the concept of powerlessness, what it really means, and why it’s so critical in the recovery journey.
  • For many addicted to alcohol and drugs, it’s difficult to admit the way addiction has made their lives unmanageable.
  • When someone is struggling with addiction, they may feel like they have no control over their life.

Stories about controlling the sun, tides, or time are seen as either legends or science fiction. The people who are truly powerless in all ways are those who cannot ask for powerless over alcohol examples help and cannot do the work of recovery. These are the tragic few who will likely die a premature death. Some of the nation’s homeless population falls into this category.

The Power of Admitting Powerlessness

This belief assumes that you have enough power over your addictive behaviors to stop. It denies the reality of all the other unsuccessful attempts you’ve made to stop as a result of major consequences. In the real world, learned helplessness can emerge from and contribute to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. During a depressive episode, for instance, someone may believe that nothing will end their suffering, so they stop seeking help completely. When a person experiences high self-efficacy and independence, they also enjoy better health outcomes. Sometimes victimhood can feel like a never-ending state.

examples of powerlessness in addiction

You are not all you want to be or thought you would be when you were a child, or an adolescent, or even a young adult. It keeps us from the realities of who we are, which is usually a smaller version of what we had hoped to be. Living a right-sized life ultimately takes more than wisdom, and it also paradoxically takes a great deal of the kind of courage of your convictions known as grit. It takes real grit to live within the reality of who you are. Grit is an enemy of wisdom only when our narcissism prevents us from acknowledging realistic limitations. All of this culminates in my choice not to take responsibility for the feelings, beliefs, and actions of others.

Understanding “Powerlessness” Over Addiction

We can feel powerless over our addiction, our mental health, our relationships, or our finances. Powerlessness is a normal and human response to stress, but it can also be a sign of depression or anxiety. The founders of AA understood that for alcoholics to truly take ownership of their recovery, they needed to accept that their life had become unmanageable due to their addiction. Excessive alcohol use not only leads to more than 140,000 deaths nationally each year but can also cause lives to spin out of control.

  • Eventually, this pseudo-control turns into a lengthy desire for a substance.
  • And I have certainly learned that my first emotional reactions are often like the visible kids on the playground, loud but ultimately not as important as they think they are and initially seem to be.
  • Millions of people have found these tools for self-reflection helpful in coming to terms with the fact that with their unaided willpower they were unable to change their destructive behaviour.
  • The perception that one cannot control the situation essentially elicits a passive response to the harm that is occurring.

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