A dark voice may be lurking in your mind. It compels you to drink, to do drugs and to destroy yourself in the process. It is powerful and hard to resist – and you want it to stop. Forever.
As veterans in the field of addiction treatment, we know the story all too well. Today, we want to discuss how dangerous the addictive voice is – and how the problematic the idea of trying to eliminate all your urges and triggers can be.
If it’s all too much, we’re here for you. Email us, chat to us on Live Chat or call 0208 191 9174. For all the info you need on our face to face and online drug and alcohol treatment programmes, browse through this page.
It’s tough. And that’s OK.
Let’s kick off with a clarification: we’re not suggesting you’re at fault for not wanting the pain to stop. Whether a person is struggling with full-blown addiction or is abusing substances to cope with their life and mental health, the consequence of drug and alcohol misuse is often much the same: self-loathing, depression and anger at yourself and the world.
When a person abuses drugs and alcohol and develops a problem, the first port of call is usually the notion that there’s a way they can make the urges stop. That they can understand their triggers and, through hard work, stubbornness and will power, eliminate them from their life. That if they just get the method right, they’ll be free forever from the pull towards drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviours.
The reality is quite different. Learning about your triggers is important, however the reality of life is that some of these triggers might be unavoidable. One of the real benefits of professional treatment is that not only will you be able to explore triggers that you may not be consciously aware of, you will also learn coping mechanisms for those triggers that are unavoidable. You’ll develop your resistance ‘muscles’, making it steadily easier to ignore the voice and live a happy, healthy life despite the presence of your urges.
Real success? It’s about empowerment.
Substance abuse and addiction hurt. They’re mentally toxic, making the usual response simple and understandable: I want this to stop.
As professionals and individuals that have had their own personal experiences of drug and alcohol problems, we see the same sentiment repeated in many newcomers to our London clinic and those accessing our services online: if I do well enough, I’ll make the urge and the pain go away. I’ll be free.
The truth? Pinning your hopes and your definition of success on this idea sets you up for failure. Treatment is a game of inches, with the individual putting in hard work daily to push forward and make modest, important gains. There is an entity inside you that compels you to drink and to do drugs as a means to cope. The real definition of success, in our experience as addiction specialists, is acquiring the skill to muzzle the beast. To quiet its voice and to understand its trickery. To accept its presence, learn its ways and to live a life alongside its quietened voice.
The strength of surrender.
Eckhart Tolle, renowned spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now, summarises this concept beautifully: “Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to, rather than opposing, the flow of life.”
Does surrender mean you listen to the voice? No. Instead, it means you accept the presence of that dark voice in your mind. You study it with the help of professionals, you discuss it with peers in group sessions and peer support meetings and, in time, you diminish its hold over your life.
In its own unique way, resistance brings suffering. Yes, you should seek a modern and effective drug and alcohol treatment programme to empower you with the skills you need to resist and manage your urges. Becoming frustrated at them being there, however, does nothing but feed negative energy into your mind. To use another quote attributed to Buddha, ‘Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot stone. You are the one who is burned’.
Does surrender mean you give in and carry on drinking and taking drugs? No. Absolutely not. What it does mean is simple, effective and beautiful in its own way: that you accept your reality and, instead of gnashing your teeth, you take decisive action to learn and grow stronger.
We can help.
This is difficult – and you don’t have to do it alone. The sooner you seek help, the more of your life you will save. The quicker you are to act decisively, the better the rest of your life can be for you and those close to you.