When people decide to give up an addiction, they are agreeing to make a major change to their life. The benefits of such a dramatic alteration of course can be wonderful, but it will be a step into the unknown. The individual needs to summon up a great deal of courage and be prepared to let go of their old habits. Once the individual becomes sober it does not mean the process of change is complete. It continues indefinitely. Anyone who builds a successful life away from addiction will constantly face changes and challenges. It is part of what makes their life away from addiction so wonderful.
People can become attached to the way things currently are, but there are some good reasons why change is necessary:
* If humans were unable to get over their resistance to change, they would still be living in caves and struggling just to stay alive each day. Not all change is good, but the process of change is vital for human survival.
* Humans are highly inventive. They are always finding new and better ways of doing things. It makes sense to benefit from such innovation.
* If everything in life just remained the same it would soon become boring. It is change that keeps life interesting and makes it so wonderful to be alive.
* Without change, it would not be possible for those who have taking a wrong turning in life to get back on track. This means that addicts would not be able to escape their addiction and nobody would be given a second chance. Personal development would not be possible without the ability to do things differently.
* Life is an evolving process, and people need to change to adapt to this.
It is not only people recovering from addiction who can have problems with change. It is a common difficulty that many humans struggle with. The most common reasons for resisting change in recovery include:
* Fear of the unknown. Accepting change almost always involves taking a leap of faith and some people struggle to develop such trust. This is why so many individuals will remain trapped in addiction. Individuals who tend toward pessimism are the most likely to fear change, because they will expect things to turn out badly.
* Not seeing the need for the change. People in this position view new innovations as an attempt to fix something that is not broken. In this light, change becomes something that is going to be an unnecessary hassle. However, it is true that changing things for no real reason can be a waste of time.
* Comfort of the familiar. Even if current conditions are far from ideal, the individual can become accustomed to it. They may believe in the old saying, better the devil you know. It takes effort to leave the comfort of the familiar.
* Fear of negative impact on life.
* Others are imposing the change. This can lead to resentment and resistance, even when the change is likely to bring benefits. People are more likely to approve of change when they feel they have a choice.
If people are new to recovery they will need to be prepared to make many changes to the way they do things. This is because their old approach to life led them into the hell of addiction. One of the most repeated sayings in Alcoholics Anonymous is that, if you keep on doing the same things, you will keep on getting the same results. These are some reasons that change is important to recovery:
* The world is constantly changing. Those who resist change are fighting reality. Of course, this does not mean that people need to accept every proposed change. However, it does suggest that they need to choose their battles wisely. Some change is going to occur whether people like it or not.
* The way that people develop in recovery is by meeting challenges in life and overcoming them. The more they do this the better they get at it. Overcoming a challenge in life usually means changing behavior. Resisting this makes it impossible to overcome obstacles.
* When people resist change, they may start to become resentful. This type of emotion is poison for recovering addicts. It can send them running right back to alcohol or drugs.
* Change is what keeps life interesting and exciting. Living in a bubble where everything stays the same is boring. It is only by embracing change that a person can get the most out of life.
* Memory can play tricks on people, especially as they get older. The old way of doing things can seem far more attractive than it actually was. Sentimentality for the past has its place, but it can also be misleading.
Resisting change in recovery makes like difficult. These are some of the risk of this inability to deal with life on its own terms:
* The individual may become caught up in the relapse process, because they are stuck in their recovery and can no longer move forward until they make some changes. Being stuck in recovery is a precarious position that usually leads to a return to alcohol or drugs.
* People who resist change may sabotage their own recovery, because they are no longer doing the things they need to do to stay sober. For example, if the individual does not like the format of their recovery fellowship meeting, they may decide to stop attending. This puts them out of touch with one of the resources that helped them to stay sober.
* If people become too stuck in their own ways, their life may become boring and miserable. New things make life exciting. If the individual wants to get the most out of their recovery from addiction, they will need to be open to change.
* In order to develop in recovery, the individual needs to develop emotional sobriety. Part of this will require a willingness to deal with life on its own terms. Those who fail to develop emotional sobriety may either relapse because life is so hard away from alcohol and drugs or become a dry drunk.
There are things that people in recovery can do to make change more palatable:
* It is important that to be willing to consider the benefits of any proposed change. Seeing the need for a change makes a person more willing to embrace it. A common reason for people resist something is that they do not understand it. Knowledge can be the key to developing a more positive view of proposed changes.
* People need to be aware of their own internal reactions when they hear that change is on the way. Many individuals just automatically go into resistance mode because it has become a habit. This means that they already have a negative view of the proposed change before they even know what it involves.
* The individual needs to be more accepting of change. It is something that is going to keep on happening, and there is nothing they can do about it. By being a bit more philosophical about change, the individual is likely to feel more accepting of it.
* It is wise to be careful around nostalgia and sentimentality. Those who spend too much time focused on the past can find it a real struggle to deal with the reality of the present. It is not possible for people to live in the past. All they have is this moment right now.
* Those people who have high self-esteem and emotional sobriety will find change much easier to deal with. A new way of doing things can be a source of excitement rather than concern. Those individuals who fully embrace change can feel like they are young children again just finding out about the wonderful world they live in.
* Keeping a journal is a good way to develop a deeper understanding of the process of change. The individual can begin to see patterns in their life. They can also observe how changes that once appeared so threatening actually led to some wonderful new opportunities.