Updated: Dec 12, 2021
There is this debate amongst people whether addiction is a disease or not. Personally, I find that there is a mental health component to addiction, but that does NOT mean we (and by "we", I mean recovering addicts/alcoholics) are completely powerless over our behaviors and actions.
The more a person dives into a recovery community or even in the mental health community, there is often language that separates and demonizes this thing called the disease of addiction. There is no demon that resides in us waiting to get out. And by separating us from our "disease", we think that something else made our poor decisions for us.
In the midst of my drug haze using, every lie that I told, I knew I was lying. Every poor action I made, I knew I was making them. It wasn't the "demon" inside of me that made me do it. It was me. And the consequences of those poor actions and decisions were mine to own.
Often, the families feel so powerless over being able to stop or help their loved ones, that they can tell themselves the addict/alcoholic is powerless over their behaviors because they have this demon called addiction. "O, they can't help it." But they can. Like it or not, my disease did not make me do it.
When someone chooses to stop doing the things they are doing, they can. It may not be easy, but it's not impossible. "I can't help it, I'm sick" is not a valid excuse for our poor choices. Addicts do NOT rob houses or you because they can't help it.
Here is the another side of it that I can also say. My mindset while I was using was definitely different. Where as no one made me do things, I certainly spent a lot of time minimizing the level of wrong I was doing. I could easily justify my actions. If I stole from a store I would tell myself "Eh, it's a big corporate chain, they can afford it, they are robbing us anyways so I'm just taking what is mine." If I robbed from a person, I may feel a little guilty but I would find different ways to justify my actions.
As much as I justified my actions, deep down I knew they were wrong. There were times that it took me a little bit longer in recovery before I understood the full weight of my actions. I sometimes didn't understand how much I hurt someone until I had a clearer understanding of exactly what I had done wrong which took a while in recovery to uncover.
But the bigger things like stealing and lying, I did know I was doing it, I just didn't always understand how hurtful those things were to others and to myself.
It took me years of recovery to have the realization that I do not have a demon inside of me making me behave in certain ways. That all my actions and behaviors are me. I didn't get into recovery and just immediately know how to live my life, so I made a lot of poor decisions even in recovery. I still make poor decisions. And the sooner I took responsibility and quit separating myself from my addiction, the easier it was to really start healing and accepting who I am as a person...which is freaking amazing.
Addiction is NOT who I am.
I still make poor decisions sometimes, but not because I am an addict, it's because I am human.
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