Addiction as a Teacher

Good That Comes from Addiction

Those people who fall into addiction can suffer a great deal of pain and misery. These individuals can also cause a great deal of harm to other people. Despite all this suffering there can be some good that comes out of this experience. It can motivate people to grow and develop as humans. It is also fair to say that addiction can be a great teacher when people are prepared to learn from it. Of course those who remain trapped in their misery will never benefit from the experience at all.

To say that good can come from addiction of course does not mean that addiction is good. There are also much better and safer ways to learn the lessons that substance abuse has to teach. The real point here is that those years spent in the midst of addiction are not a complete waste. They can be a source of learning and the lessons learned can help the individual build a much better life in the future.

Lessons Learned in Addiction

Those individuals who walk away from addiction can learn invaluable lessons such as:

* Trying to hide from their emotions is not a good idea. It is much easier and preferable to face things and overcome them.
* Personal development occurs when people overcome the challenges that they face. This means that these challenges in life are not the enemy.
* It is always possible to change and people do get second chances in life. This knowledge does give the individual the freedom to tackle life in a less closed-minded way.
* Addiction shows people that they can be fooled by their inner thoughts and beliefs. This encourages the individual to think more critically in the future.
* Those people who recover from an addiction tend to be more compassionate and understanding of human fallibility. They understand that it is possible for anyone to take a wrong path in life and this doesn’t mean that they are bad people.
* They can learn that helping other people is one of the most rewarding experiences in life.
* People in recovery learn that they are responsible for their situation in life. If they want to improve things then they will need to make it happen.
* They learn that personal development is necessary. This is because they realize that it is only by chipping away at their character flaws that they can put more distance between themselves and their addiction.

Pain as the Touchstone of Growth

It is a much repeated nugget of wisdom in Alcoholics Anonymous that pain is the touchstone of growth. A touchstone refers to a hard black stone that was once used to test the quality of gold. To say that pain is a touchstone means that this unpleasantness challenges the person’s personal growth as a human. If they are able to face and overcome the difficult situation they are dealing with it is a sign of the own development. Not only will this challenge test their personal growth, but it will also add to it.

Addiction and the Motivation to Change

Addiction gives people a stark choice – they can either change or die. Not only does the individual need to give up their addiction, but they also have to completely turn their life around. This is because if they just return to their way of life before becoming addicted they will be liable to relapse or fall into new addictive behaviors. The individual learns that giving up alcohol or drugs is just the first step in their journey. They will need to overcome their own character flaws if they want to secure their addiction.

It is not only addicts who settle for a life that is well below their potential. There are plenty of people who just get by in life and fail to make the most of their opportunities. Things just never get painful enough for these people that they are put into a position where they have to change. The addict is different. They have a motivation to face their character flaws and build the best possible life for themselves. In this respect the addict can view their addiction as a great teacher and a motivator. The suffering in their life forces the addict to not only change their life but to also keep on improving it.

From Addiction to Emotional Sobriety

One of the real benefits of a life in recovery is the chance to develop emotional sobriety. It is not only ex-addicts who have developed this type of well-being, but the path of recovery does lead the individual towards it. Those people in recovery who fail to develop emotional sobriety will tend to relapse or continue to have a great deal of emotional pain in their life. The benefits of emotional sobriety include:

* The individual is able to live fully in the moment
* This person will be much better at regulating their own mood
* They are unlikely to find themselves dealing with extremes of mood
* This individual will be much better at regulating their own behavior
* They will be positive about their life and optimistic about the future
* They will usually enjoy good physical and mental health
* When faced with illness they will have strong coping mechanisms to help them deal with this
* They will suffer from a great deal less stress in life than the average person
* They will suffer much less from stress related illness
* They develop the ability to self soothe when times are hard
* They find it easy to develop deep and meaningful relationships with other people
* They are not attracted to using mind altering chemicals to help them escape life

Those who have escaped an addiction can begin to view pain as their friend rather than their enemy. It acts like a warning light to tell the individual that they are in danger. This pain tells them that something is going wrong and they need to fix it. It is unlikely that people would make many changes in their life if it wasn’t for such pain. Humans tend to fall into a rut when things are going well. It is during these times of pain when the most change occurs.

Addiction and Second Chances

One of the most wonderful things that addiction teaches people is that it is possible to change and get second chances in life. There are many examples of addicts who gave up alcohol and drugs and went on to completely reinvent themselves. The old saying that, a leopard never changes its spots is clearly not the case. The sad thing is that many people do believe this to be true so they never even try to change. The addict has already made a change in their approach to life so they will be more confident about making other changes in the future. This greatly increases their chances of enjoying life and making the most of their potential. Those in recovery soon learn that it is all about progress and not perfection, but they also realize that it is possible to achieve a great deal – often well beyond anything they would of imagined while in the midst of their addiction.

Those Who Fail to Learn from Addiction

Addiction can be a wonderful teacher but not everyone is a good student. Some people just refuse to learn or they forget what they have learned. It is often said that those who fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. The dangers of failing to learn from addiction include:

* It means that the individual will be at a high risk of relapsing back to their addiction.
* Those who manage to stay away from their old habits can still develop dry drunk syndrome. This means that even though they are not physically using alcohol their behavior remains the same as when they were in the midst of their addiction.
* The addictive personality means that the individual is liable to fall into other types of maladaptive behavior. It is only by overcoming these characteristic traits that the individual will be truly free.
* When people become sober they have the opportunity of building a wonderful life. Those who fail to make the most of this chance are cheating themselves.
* Addiction not only causes suffering for the individual but also those around them. Those who fail to learn from their mistakes can continue to be a source of misery for other people.

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