How to break free from addiction for good?
Whether it’s alcohol or social media, if you have battled with addiction for any number of years, you know that it’s not enough to just stop. Stopping is relatively easy. The hard part is not to start again.
Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA, saw thousands of people quit drinking after “working the 12-step program.” But he noticed over time that many of them eventually replaced their old addiction with a new one.
Why do we keep relapsing?
“How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, “For God’s sake, how did I ever get started again?’”AA’s Big Book, page 24.
Why do we keep relapsing? According to Bill Wilson, an addict will remain an addict as long as they believe in their power.
We go back to our self-destructive behavior because we believe that through it we can control things.
For example, I fall into passive aggression and start pouting every time I feel offended because I believe that this will induce the other person to meet my needs.
The reason I fall into workaholism again and again is that I believe that through overperforming I can control how much I get in life. I reach out for this next piece of chocolate against my better judgment because I believe I can control my mood from outside in.
The gates of hell “closed on him with a clang”
The AA Big Book tells of an American businessman who, after trying to give up drinking for years, went to Europe to get consultations from a famous psychiatrist Dr. Jung.
He finished his treatment with unusual confidence. His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time.(AA Big Book, page 26)
Going back to his doctor, he asked why he couldn’t recover. He begged him to tell the whole truth and he got it. In the doctor’s judgment, he WAS UTTERLY HOPELESS.
Dr. Jung advised that he should “place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long.”
The doctor said: “You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.’’ Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.(AA Big Book, page 27).
The end is the beginning
This man is free now; he is alive and well. He doesn’t need to lock himself or have a bodyguard. He can go anywhere he wants to as long as he is willing to maintain one simple attitude. “I am powerless.”
When he heard that he was hopeless he had a profound spiritual transformation which, according to the founders of AA, is THE ONLY SOLUTION.
What happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
A long time ago, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Adam and Eve: “Take it and eat it. You will be like gods.”
At that moment, we became control freaks. The reason I am reaching out and taking this fruit again and again is that I believe that this time it will give me what I want. It never does. But I still believe that it will.
What will break this cycle of insanity? How do I break free from addiction for good?
The clang of the gates of hell. This is the “metanoia” I am looking for. Sooner or later, lightning strikes me on the Damascus road, and I wake up, saying: “I can’t do it anymore.” This is a new beginning. The resurrection.
This is what a lot of people in the 12-step programs lack — the conviction that I am not God. That I need to let go and trust.
Centuries later, a humble man told his followers in the upper room: “Take it and eat it so you won’t be Gods anymore.” And then he went to the Garden and relinquished all power.
The only way out of addiction that works
How to break free from addiction for good? The only way to break any addiction is to relinquish power. As long as I believe that I am in control, it’s a hopeless business.
There is a solution…We saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it… We have found much of heaven, and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.AA’s Big Book, page 25.
What is this “fourth dimension” mentioned in AA Big Book?
The fourth dimension is a state of mind in which I believe that there is a Power greater than myself. For a control freak to accept that there’s a Power greater than me is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.
I don’t actually need to obsess about my statistics and how well my articles perform. I am not God. I can just focus on enjoying the writing process. I can die to my desire to be successful. I can jump off this plane and fall into the “fourth dimension.”
I can actually skip this piece of chocolate even though it feels like a little death. I don’t need to fill myself up from outside in. There is a Power greater than me that will fill me up.
I don’t need to stonewall this person, hoping they will second-guess my thoughts and meet my needs. I can’t control other people. I have no power here. There is a greater Power at work. I can let go and trust, which is the only way to break free from addiction for good.
When you slip, go back to the beginning
It would be a lie for me to say that I am completely free of my addictions. I still relapse to the “I am God” belief almost every day. And it’s ok. I forgive myself. It’s not about perfection but about going back to the beginning again and again.
What is the beginning? The clang of the gates of hell. The “I can’t do it anymore.” I am powerless. This is the only way because it’s the end of me.
The gates into the fourth dimension open every time I hear the clang of the gates of hell. If I listen and take the leap of faith, I am rocketed into a life that I never dreamed of.