Addiction as a Teacher
The fall into addiction leads to a great deal of misery for the individual and those close to them. At first glance it can be hard to imagine how anything positive could arise out of such a mess. Those who have managed to escape their addiction and built a good life can later look back and understand that those years were not completely wasted. Addiction can be a great teacher for those people who are willing to learn from it. Of course if people fail to learn from this experience it will have just been a waste.
Lessons Learned from Addiction
Those individuals who overcome an addiction can learn some important lessons along the way such as:
* Hiding from the problems in life is not an effective way to deal with them. Not only does it mean that these problems never get tackled but that they also begin to fester and cause additional difficulties for the individual.
* Not all coping mechanisms are good ones.
* The challenges in life can act as a friend because they force people to grow.
* It is vital for people to challenge their own thought processes because otherwise they can fall into the trap of denial.
* People can change.
* Adversary in life can actually turn out to be a friend.
* People can take a wrong turn in life, and it doesn’t mean that they are bad. Those who survive addiction learn to be more tolerant of other people.
* The Importance of humility and beginner’s mind
* People who have gone through an addiction learn how destructive it can be if they allow negative thinking to take over their life.
Importance of Facing Challenges in Life
One of the most important lessons that people learn from addiction is that running away or trying to ignore their problems is not an effective solution. A common reason for why people original turn to alcohol or drugs is that is that they find problems in life difficult to deal with. When they use these substances it makes them feel better but the problems are still there. The fact that these challenges in life are not being dealt with means that they pile up. The individual responds to this by intensifying their substance abuse. Now the alcohol or drug use is producing additional problems in the individual’s life and they are have developed a tolerance so they have to use more of these chemicals. Things continue to deteriorate until the individual manages to escape or they die.
When people enter recovery they need to deal with life in a new manner. They now know that running from problems is not a good solution. Once they begin to face challenges and overcome them they learn that these obstacles are not their enemy. In fact it is only by overcoming these challenges that the individual can learn and grow. Every time that people manage bet beyond one of these hurdles they are that bit closer to a life of serenity. Hiding from problems only offers a temporary solution at best, and people in recovery have seen this.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Coping Mechanisms
Another thing that people learn as a result of their addiction is that not every coping mechanism is a good one. Substance abuse can initially seem to be working at helping people cope, but it is actually making things a great deal worse. In order to deal with this the individual picks up other maladaptive coping mechanisms such as denial. In order to build a good life in sobriety the individual will need to abandon their ineffective coping skills and find ones that actually work. Once the individual has accumulated enough of these effective tools they will be able to manage life almost effortlessly – they have reached a point called serenity where they are no longer at the mercy of the vicissitudes of life.
People Can Change
Another hugely important lesson that people learn as a result of their addiction is that change is possible. The idea that a leopard can’t change its spots is not true. People can completely turn their life around and have a second chance in life. This is not to say that change is easy, but once the individual knows that they are able to make major changes in their life it gives them the confidence to continue to do so in the future. The knowledge that change is possible encourages people in recovery to chip away at all the other character flaws that are making their life uncomfortable.
Addiction Can Teach People to be More Compassionate
One of the other great lessons that people can learn from their experience with addiction is compassion. They can now see that just because people have ended up on a wrong path in life it does not mean that they are bad people. Those who have escaped from substance abuse understand how easy it is to become deluded and lost and how their own thoughts can keep them trapped in misery. In many instances this compassion means that once people are firmly established in sobriety they are eager to help others. Those who in recovery understand what the addict is facing and they are keen to offer any assistance that will help these people escape.
The Importance of Critical Thinking
Those who have managed to overcome an addiction understand that their own thought processes can get them into trouble. They will be aware of how they once used denial and logical fallacies to rationalize their destructive behavior. This should mean that in the future they will be more willing to challenge their own thoughts. All humans will have beliefs and opinions that are illogical, and these can get them into trouble. It is only through the tools of critical thinking that people can weed such unhelpful ways of thinking out.
Need for Humility and Beginner’s Mind
One of the character flaws that is often associated with addicts is arrogance and closed mindedness. In sobriety they are able to joke about how they were once able to lie in the gutter and still be able to look down on everyone else. If they continue with such an attitude in recovery they are liable to become a dry drunk – this means that they are physically sober but their behavior continues to be appalling.
There is a wise saying that states, that if people keep on doing the same things the same things will keep on happening to them. It is important that people in recovery develop enough humility to become teachable. Their old way of doing things clearly does not work so they have to go back to the drawing board. Being humble does not mean becoming a doormat. It just means that the individual acknowledges their limitations and is ready to learn.
Beginner’s mind is another attitude that is closely related to humility. If people have already made their mind up about an issue they are unlikely to learn anything new. The only information that they will allow to enter their thinking is that which confirms what they already believe. Beginner’s mind means that the individual is temporarily willing to put aside their own beliefs and opinions and really listen to what the other person is saying. It also means that the individual is willing to abandon their current beliefs and opinions if they are given a compelling reason to do so.
Dangers of Stinking Thinking
Addicts learn that their negative thoughts can be a great source of misery in their life. It can be used as an excuse to engage in lots of maladaptive behaviors including addiction. Those who manage to build a successful life away from addiction realize that they need to avoid stinking thinking. They realize that emotions like anger, resentment, and bitterness lead to suffering. These people learn that the way to happiness in life is to develop emotional sobriety so that they are better able to resist the pull towards negative thinking.