The sooner that people are able to escape the misery of addiction, the better it will be for them. Unfortunately, most addicts will have at least some resistance to recovery, and this prevents them from seeking help. In too many instances, this unwillingness to get better will lead them to an early death. It is therefore vital that steps are taking to overcome this resistance. The only person who can really solve the problem is the addict themselves, but there may be things that friends and family can do to overcome resistance to sobriety.
Addiction completely destroys people’s lives. They addict can lose almost everything that they hold dear; career, friends, possessions, the respect of family members, hobbies, health, sanity, and self-respect. If the individual persists in the behavior they will eventually lose their own life. Even though the addict will usually be able to acknowledge the destruction they can still refuse to get help for their problems. Even when family and friends beg for them to change their ways, they still persist in their downward spiral into addiction. This unwillingness to take the steps needed to end the addiction is known as resistance to recovery.
Self-efficacy is the confidence that the individual has in their ability to achieve something. If their self-efficacy is low then this means that they will not believe it possible to achieve a task. This lack of belief in their ability to get sober will mean resistance to the idea. It is possible to increase the self-efficacy of people to believe they can achieve something by:
* Experiencing some success in trying to achieve the goal
* Witnessing peers achieve the same goal
* Allowing another individual to persuade them of their ability to achieve the goal
It often appears to outsiders that the addict has become insane. This is the only way to explain their continued path into self-destruction. Things will usually appear completely different to the addict. In fact, they may have plenty of justifications for their behavior. The most common causes of resistance to recovery include:
* The addict is in denial about the causes of their problems. From their point of view they are turning to alcohol and drugs to help them cope with the problems in their life. They see themselves as reacting to their troubles and not actually causing them. So if they lose their job they will blame the employer. They will then justify further substance abuse as a means to cope with this loss. When the addict is in the midst of addiction, they really do see alcohol or drugs as their savior instead of the cause of their difficulties.
* Some people develop the misconception that they need to lose everything before they will be able to quit their addiction. This is because they have heard of the necessity of hitting rock bottom. They fail to understand that this rock bottom is just a place where they feel ready to give up the substance abuse. It is like an elevator going down. It is up to the passenger to decide where they want to get off. Many people have a high rock bottom, and this means that they do not need to lose much before escaping their addiction. There is nothing to be gained by riding the elevator to the bottom. It just means more suffering and the risk of death.
* It is common for addicts to fear the unknown of recovery. Their current life may be miserable, but there is comfort in the familiarity of it. They take comfort in the old adage, it is better the devil you know. The addict knows that escaping addiction involves making huge changes to their life and this scares them.
* There can be a misconception among addicts that life in recovery if going to be boring. They just find it impossible to imagine how people could be really happy without alcohol or drugs. They fail to recognize that substance abuse is not actually making them happy. The peace of mind that they yearn for can only be found in sobriety.
* Most addicts will have tried to get sober previously. When their attempt failed they will just assume that recovery is not for them. They fail to understand that it can take more than one attempt before they find sobriety. Just because things did not work out in the past does not mean that it will be the same next time.
* Addicts may fear losing their friends. They will have become to depend on this social network and find it almost impossible to imagine life without these people. If they give up alcohol or drugs then this will mean leaving the group. Substance abuse may be the only thing that binds them together.
* When people fall into addiction it completely takes over their life. Their whole identity becomes wrapped up in the use of these substances. This means that they may find it impossible to imagine themselves as non-addicts. The idea of losing their addict identity scares them.
* Those individuals who are trapped in addiction tend to have many misconceptions about what recovery actually means. They may believe that it requires finding God or becoming a self-righteous fitness fanatic. They fail to see that there are many paths in recovery and that there will be something to suit them.
There are a number of things that can be done that will help addicts get over their resistance to recovery such as:
* Spending time with people who have managed to build a successful life in recovery can inspire the addict to want the same things. Humans are influenced by the people they come in contact with so spending time with sober individuals can be highly beneficial.
* Addiction recovery material such as books, videos, and audio can inspire people to want to become sober. This will give them the opportunity to find out more about the possibilities of life without substance abuse. This information can also clear up many of the misconceptions they have about recovery.
* A session with an addiction specialist can be highly beneficial because it helps people come to terms with their situation. This therapist can help the individual see beyond their denial.
* Addicts will experience times when their resistance to recovery weakens. This often occurs when they have done something particularly bad or they are experiencing a bad hangover. At these times the addict will be far more receptive to getting help for their addiction. It is vital that they move fast to get help because this receptiveness might not last very long.
* Finding out about the different options can help people overcome their resistance to recovery. There are many individuals who may have tried to get sober in the past with the help of something like a 12 Step program. When this approach does not work for them, they just assume that this means that they can never achieve sobriety. What this is more likely to mean is that this path for achieving sobriety just wasn’t the right one for them. There are plenty of other recovery options for them to try.
* Motivational interviewing can help increase people’s self-efficacy for quitting their addiction.
There are some addicts who are never likely to give recovery a chance. It would be unethical for society to just wash their hands of such individuals. Even if people are not willing to consider sobriety there may still be things that can be done to improve their situation. Harm reduction programs include:
* Wet homeless shelters where alcoholics are allowed to drink
* Education programs that teach safer drinking practices
* Methadone maintenance programs
* Needle exchange programs for IV drug users
* Moderation management for heavy drinkers
* Nutritional advice and supplements for addicts
* Safe places where people can inject drugs
Harm reduction programs can help the addict improve their life. It can also help them reach a point in their life where they become willing to give recovery a try.