“Dismantling Powerlessness in Addiction: Empowering Recovery through Re” by Mark H Butler, Kierea C. Meloy et al.

When we choose to see vulnerability as an act of courage rather than weakness, we create possibilities and move more fully toward the person we want to be. Our fears of rejection and/or disappointment prevent us from asking friends, family, and folks in recovery. When we allow our fears to dictate our decisions, we suffer. Like a playwright we develop “scripts.” We decide how others should feel, how they should view things, and how they should treat us. We are generally afraid to simply ask for these things and so we seek strategies to covertly evoke the outcomes we want. The greatest influence on your life typically comes from family members, friends and peers, educators and instructors,…

  • Until we can accept powerlessness, we will not fully seek Power.
  • Knowing triggers, relapse cues, and other harmful stimuli surrounding us helps keep us in recovery.
  • Instead of railing against powerlessness or relying on unhealthy ways of getting our needs met, we can simply share our struggles and ask for help in getting our needs met.

This was many years before I ever came to realize that I myself needed to be a member of the same fellowship. I recall thinking how nice it was for all of these people to take time out of their day to bear witness to this woman recounting the horrors of her past and her substance abuse. Little did I know that years later I would be stuttering out my name in a packed 12-step meeting in Amsterdam in 2007. Meanwhile praying to God that no one would recognize me, and that I wouldn’t be found out and lose my job the next day.

Overt Denial of Powerlessness

I want to give you tools and a process to put your powerlessness and unmanageability under a microscope. Millions of people have found these tools for self-reflection helpful in coming to terms powerless over alcohol examples with the fact that with their unaided willpower they were unable to change their destructive behaviour. Your life is too sacred and too precious for you to live in the shadow of self sabotage.

It is true that we are powerless to do what is right when taken over by an addiction. Read on to learn more about the concept of powerlessness, what it really means, and why it’s so critical in the recovery journey. As a part of treatment at MARR, our clients complete a First Step Inventory, which includes examples of powerlessness and unmanageability from various areas of life. This assignment starts to create awareness of how this disease damages one’s life. When you lay it all out, you will see that you did not have control in those moments.

Simplifying The Steps: Step One And The Concept Of Powerlessness

Alternatively, you can use this entire list as a daily affirmation to support you in your recovery. Slips and relapse are part of the normal trajectory of recovery. To say they bring you back to square one dismisses the work you’ve done so far in your recovery journey. Use them to learn about additional supports you need, the needs or desires that drove you to act out, or catalysts or triggers that create more temptation. Admitting powerlessness requires getting honest with yourself about reality, instead of the “stinkin’ thinkin’” (delusion and denial) that enables your addiction.

examples of powerlessness in addiction

It involves realizing that your attempts at self-control are not cutting it, and that you need to rely on others to support you in gaining discipline and control. So it is that most of us are not powerless over our addictions, in the sense that most of us can exert our power to ask for help. Asking for help and doing the work of recovery gives us power, with the help of others, over our addictions.

Understanding “Powerlessness” Over Addiction

Today with the understanding of powerless, our number one priority is our relationship with our creator and how we can best serve. We’ve had good reasons to quit for good, and we continued drinking or using drugs anyway. This understanding of the word obsession explains why we keep going back to pick up the first drink or drug. It makes so much sense when we look back at our behaviors—the threat of relationships ending, poor health, work-life, bad decisions, legal trouble, etc. We’re powerless when our mind is obsessing, so it’s nearly impossible to make the right decision. It is not difficult to overestimate the amount of control we have over our lives, particularly when addiction is involved.

  • This was many years before I ever came to realize that I myself needed to be a member of the same fellowship.
  • Yet therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful for exploring the origins of perceived helplessness and addressing related behaviors.
  • Ask questions and get as much information as you can about your options.
  • It may seem like admitting powerlessness is giving up, but the exact opposite is true.

The self-awareness that comes with realizing how bad things are and how damaging the substance abuse has been is how you can start to desire a better future for yourself. This step of accepting powerlessness from the 12-Step process of recovery essentially highlights the power of drugs and alcohol over our lives. Few people intend to destroy their lives and relationships by drinking or doing drugs, but that is what can happen with addiction. These substances literally rewire brain function, making the need to satisfy a craving take prominence over everything else in life–regardless of the consequences.

You might have this thought if you come from a family background that was rigid, with strict rules and no tolerance for mistakes. It is linked to a shame-based identity or view of self as fundamentally flawed or bad at the core. Physical punishment, deprivation, social withdrawal, or any other way of punishing yourself increases feelings of despair and hopelessness. And since addictive behaviors are the primary way you cope with distress and pain, you’ll return to those in a heartbeat.

  • As addiction begins to overtake your life, you lie to yourself about what is happening.
  • I’ve had to “grow-up out-loud” in the rooms of recovery.
  • The compulsive nature–where the unmanageability comes into play–is the continued use of substances despite the consequences.
  • What’s wonderful about this first step is the word “We.”  Bill Wilson and Dr. Smith chose these words carefully when developing the steps of recovery.

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