The motivations that initially drive us towards drugs are not unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with the desire to feel good about ourselves, to be better at socializing, to feel confident, or to find a deeper meaning in life. It is not wanting these things that was the problem, but our way of achieving them which doesn’t work long-term.
The Point of Recovery
For as long as I didn’t have a compelling reason to remain sober, I kept on finding my way back to alcohol. I could stop drinking for days, weeks, and sometimes even months but eventually I would relapse due to a question I felt unable to answer convincingly – what is the point?
Drinking was my way of dealing with life, and for so long as I didn’t have a better strategy, I kept on returning to it. The fact that alcohol was a source of increasing suffering wasn’t enough to keep me away from it for good. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin, and as far as my mind was concerned, a flawed way of finding comfort was better than no way of finding comfort.
The appealing thing about alcohol was it at least provided a temporary reprieve from the ups and downs of life. It meant I could escape into fantasy and away from my usual negative inner-dialogue telling me how rubbish my life was. It replaced emotions that would sometimes feel like they would overwhelm me with a comfortable numbness.
The relief I got from alcohol lessened noticeably over the years, and the personal cost of using it became higher, but until there was a good enough reason to give it up, I kept on returning.
Fear-Based Reasons to Stay Away from Drugs
It is often-fear based reasons that convince us to go to rehab or take a break from drugs. Some examples of this type of motivation would include;
• Fear of losing our partner
• Fear of irreversibly damaging our health
• Fear of dying
• Fear of losing our job
• Fear of being kicked out of our home
• Fear of damaging our reputation
These fear-based motivations can be highly effective at helping us develop the initial willingness to change, but they don’t tend to work long-term. As the saying goes, ‘time heals all wounds’, and once we start to feel a bit better, we can forget our initial reason for stopping. There then no longer seems to be a point to staying in recovery. We begin to question if things were really that bad, and to wonder if we could handle drugs a bit better now our life has improved.
Another reason why fear-based reasons for recovery don’t tend to work long-term is that even after we quit drugs, we are still going to have to go through tough times. On these days, the urge to escape into chemical oblivion can be intense, and our fear about damaging our relationships, health, and reputation may no longer seem so important.
What is a Good Enough Reason to Stay Away from Drugs?
It was finding a positive motivation rather than fear that finally allowed me to break free of alcohol. I realized the reason I drank was a desperate need to be comfortable in my own skin, so I made this my reason for being sober. I found a much better way of dealing with life so the need for drugs fell away completely.
The motivations that initially drive us towards drugs are not unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with the desire to feel good about ourselves, to be better at socializing, to feel confident, or to find a deeper meaning in life. It is not wanting these things that was the problem, but our way of achieving them which doesn’t work long-term. If we now use these motivations to drive our recovery, it not only gives us a powerful reason to go forward, but it can also mean we end up with a far superior solution than drugs.
What is the point of recovery for you?