Internal Locus of Control and Addiction Recovery

Taking Charge in Addiction Recovery
If those people who are in early recovery sit back and just expect for their life to improve they may be disappointed. This is because getting sober is only the start of the process and more work will be needed to ensure a good life in the future. The mental attitude that people develop during this period of sobriety will determine the level of success they are likely to achieve. One aspect of this will be their locus of control.

Locus of Control Explained
Locus of control refers to the person’s perception of the underlying cause of events in their life. If the individual has an external locus of control they will tend to view their own behavior and experiences to be the result of external forces. When people have a more internal locust of control it means that they believe that their behavior and experience is mostly due to forces that they actively control. Put simply then locus of control refers to the person’s belief as to how much control they have over the things that happen to them. The locus of control that the individual ascribes to is important because it can determine the level of success they experience in life. Those people who are attempting to overcome an addiction may find it more difficult if they subscribe to a more external locus of control.

Benefits of an Internal Locus of Control
Those individuals who believe that they are in charge of their own destiny benefit from such an attitude because:

* By feeling in control of their future the person feels motivated to take action. If this person feels like their future is out of their hands there will be no motivation to take any positive action.
* Those people who have an internal locus of control are far more likely to engage in behaviors that will improve their life.
* The individual will be willing to work hard and make sacrifices because they know that they will reap the rewards of doing so.
* They will always be on the lookout for new ways to improve their life.
* Blaming other people or life for problems tends to be an ineffective strategy. It turns the person into a passive victim instead of an active participant.
* Those individuals who feel in control are less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression. They will tend to be optimistic and view life as an adventure rather than something to be endured.
* The person is driving to do things and does not waste time with excuses to justify inaction. Success does not tend to fall from the skies – people have to make it happen.

External Locus of Control and Addiction
It is usual for addicts to have an external locus of control. They will blame things like family, friends, work, society, politics, bad luck, or even the weather for the problems they encounter. This individual will often appear oblivious to the idea that they have some control over their downward spiral into addiction. Until this person understands that they can take charge of their destiny they will continue with their descent into misery. Their suffering will tend to increase in intensity until finally the person is forced to take control – or they will die.

Internal Locus of Control and Recovery
If people wish to successfully escape addiction and build a good life they will need a more internal locus of control. This is because:

* For years the addict will have blamed outside forces for their problems, and it go them nowhere. A new approach is needed if they are to achieve real sobriety.
* Recovery is all about taking responsibility and developing an improved way of living.
* In order to find happiness away from addiction the individual will need to do some work. This means that they will need to believe that taking such actions will benefit them.
* If people are hoping for outside forces to fix them they can become disappointed. To expect the good things in life to fall from the skies is unrealistic.
* The more motivated the individual is in recovery the more they will be able to achieve. Those who have low motivation will tend to run out of steam, and this means that they can slip back into addition.
* A negative attitude in recovery is dangerous and this is more likely to occur when the individual believes themselves to be a passive victim in life.
* Those people who have an internal locus of control tend to maintain a can do attitude, and this tends to mean that they are well liked and respected by others.

Internal Locus of Control and Acceptance
An internal locus of control can be even more beneficial to the individual when it is tempered with a degree of acceptance. This differs from acting out of an external locus of control because it means that the individual is behaving rationally to a genuine insurmountable obstacle. There are some things in life that the individual will have no control over, and it is fruitless to fight against such things – for example, it is not possible for humans to change the weather no matter how much they believe in themselves. 12 Step groups use the serenity prayer to help them differentiate between those things they can change and those that they cannot.

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