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Why Addicts Struggle with Resolutions

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Kacy Ritter, Director of Alumni Services

For some, New Year’s resolutions can come in the form of commitments to lose a few pounds or vows to begin a new group activity. In comparison, such commitments may be much more dire for those trapped in the bondage of addiction, and many an addict has seen the coming new year as the hopeful beginning of their sobriety. Pledges for self-improvement and change begin firmly as the clock strikes midnight, yet for countless alcoholics and addicts, such promises on their own power seem to make little difference. The next drink or drug is often around the corner, despite the pressing and heartfelt desire to stay sober permanently. To quote the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Some will be drunk the day after making their resolutions; most of them within a few weeks” (page 34).

Indeed, resolutions are the hallmark of addiction. Despite grand intentions, the active alcoholic will make continual resolutions to stay sober which they never seem capable of maintaining. Those of us in long-term recovery know this repeated defeat all too well. While our friends and family members scrape for an understanding of our failing resolve, we secretly join in alongside them, hoping to understand why we are incapable of upholding our extreme desire to stay sober. For most addicts, this continual sense of defeat is baffling, leading us to believe that we may simply be morally defunct. After all, why else would we break our sincere promises never to drink again? Filled with guilt and unending shame, we struggle to maintain sobriety, and fall victim to the “insidious insanity” of the first drink, time and time again (page 154).

Most alcoholics begin to believe, at some point or another, that the greatest problem of alcoholism is their lack of control while drunk, for along with intoxication comes erratic behavior, secretive lives and damaging interpersonal experiences. In stepping back from the wreckage of yet another binge, we analyze our actions, blame our problems on alcohol, and promise—yes, one more time—never to touch another drop. For addicts it may be the promise of abstaining from even one pill, or a single hit. We toss out our empty bottles, vow never to contact our drug dealers again and stare helplessly into the faces of our loved ones while proclaiming our undying need to stay sober. If these promises hold as much weight as we believe they do in those moments of defeat, why is it that in a matter of days or months, we return to our drug of choice without warning? For us, there seems to be no sufficient explanation other than insanity.

Rather than some moral failing, alcoholism is a disease of the body, mind and spirit which creates a state of pervasive irrationality in the active alcoholic. At Origins, we know that while sprees under the influence surely create havoc, they are not the problem in and of itself. The far better consideration is not what happens after we drink, by why we continue to return to the very thing which destroys our peace of mind and tears at the lives of those around us. In all actuality, getting sober is not the problem—it is staying sober that seems impossible.

It is no wonder that New Year’s Day marks the dawning of yet one more attempt at sobriety for many alcoholics and drug addicts facing the possibility of another year filled with perilous debacles. Moving out of the holiday, a time which is often joyous and fun-filled for those untouched by addiction, many alcoholics turn to review their experience with solemnity. Lonely occasions stripped of loved ones who can no longer enable the destructive behavior of an alcoholic, chaotic family gatherings made worse by alcoholic insanity—these things are commonplace for many people who remain caught in the vicious cycle of addiction. The New Year brings the promise of fresh hope and a clean slate, yet without support and a spiritual program of action, many will watch their dreams quickly fade.

Alcoholism is a treatable illness of the body, mind and spirit. By comprehensively addressing these areas with care and purpose, our team of addiction professionals is able to support the addict or alcoholic in discovering a real solution that truly works. Past failures can be left in 2014, with a new way of life visible on the horizon as the coming year approaches. The dream of a sober New Year filled with renewed family ties and warm friendship is possible with more than a simple resolution to quit. Making a decision to embark on a transformative journey can bring about a life of sobriety which cannot be gained by resolutions and empty promises alone. As those in recovery know, this permanent change can only be experienced through courageous action. No matter how many times one may have returned to their drug of choice, a rich future can begin to grow amid the rubble of the past.

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment, Origins is here to help. Please contact us at 844-U-GET-WELL.