Can Addicts Make The “Choice” To Stop Using?
“As active alcoholics, we lost our ability to choose whether we would drink. We were the victims of a compulsion which seemed to decree that we must go on with our own destruction.
Yet we finally did make the choices that brought about our recovery. We came to believe that alone we were powerless over alcohol. This was surely a choice, and a most difficult one. We came to believe that a Higher Power could restore us to sanity when we became willing to practice A.A.’s Twelve Steps.
In short we chose to ‘become willing,’ and no better choice did we ever make.” (Bill W., letter, 1966)
Have We As Addicts Lost The Power Of Choice?
What we hear in recovery is that we have lost the power of choice with regards to our addiction. When we begin to use, we cannot stop. It isn’t that we don’t want to stop—many times we actually do want to stop very much. But we cannot. An obsession of the mind and a compulsion of the body crush any opposition we might muster.
We cannot, when drinking or getting high, effectively choose to stop. But we can choose to become willing to get sober. We have seen that when alcohol, drugs or other addictions enter the picture, we lose our ability to say “no.” We can make a choice that this is a fight we’re no longer going to try to fight. We can decide to walk away altogether and never look back.
The Decision To End The Denial Of Addiction
The other choice we must make is to end our pattern of denial. How many years have we been saying there was no problem, really, or that we had this under control? Make the decision to begin looking at your life with a brutally bright light. Start to see that denial has been your defense and it’s killing you. It’s time to admit the truth. When you are ready to become honest, and to admit that you are indeed powerless, you open yourself to hope.
Stop Blaming Others For Your Addiction
As we sat languishing in our addictions we identified the people and the things we could blame for the state in which we found ourselves. It was our parents, our upbringing, our genetics, God, our bosses, spouses, kids, the government or some other institution. We thought ourselves justified: if “so and so” wasn’t the way he was or if this entity hadn’t done to us what it did, we wouldn’t be living this way. The next important choice we make is to stop blaming other people. Many people live hard lives, or have been the victims of injustice, or a bad childhood, and they aren’t drugging themselves to death. No one denies that perhaps life has dealt you a hard hand, but few will sympathize enough to say a drug addiction was a justified response. This is the path you have chosen, actually. And it is the path you can choose to get off of.
“We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victims of our inheritance, of our life experience, and of our surroundings—that these are the sole forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can really choose.” (Bill W., Grapevine, Nov. 1960)