Recovery Conundrum: When You Want What You Say You Don’t

By Ken Wells - 02/01/2022


Series Three: Blog Two

In 12-step meetings, I have listened to addicts reflect about times they adamantly proclaimed they never want to act out again while secretly plotting how they would act out as soon as they got out of the meeting! Are these addicts insincere and crazy? Maybe, but for sure, they define the conundrum of cunning deceit that underlies addict behavior. It’s the double life. It’s the Jekyll and Hyde description that baffles those who love and care for the addict.

It’s not all that difficult to comprehend. It is common to listen people declare they are going to lose 10 pounds while they ask for a piece of delicious carrot cake. Do they really want to lose 10 pounds? Yes. But, they also are powerless to the thought of carrot cake melting in their mouth. Take this dilemma and magnify it Ten-X and you gain insight about the powerful Catch-22 that exists with addictive behavior.

How do addicts resolve the dilemma of wanting what they say they don’t want?

1. Don’t bullshit yourself. Say it straight. When you are scheming to score, to get a hit and plan to act out, tell on yourself. Make the disclosure raw and unedited. Put it on the table just as it is in your brain. If you made an inspirational statement about sobriety in a 12-step group and you are acting out even while in the group, stop it with honest disclosure in that moment. It’s the only way to nip what you say you don’t want in the bud.

2. Dialogue with the devil. Having responsible conversation with your demons is a powerful way to manage addict stinking thinking. Sit down with your sponsor or other addict in recovery. Let them be the devil or the voice of addictive craving. Tell them what your addictive rationale is saying about why it is OK to act out. Have them say it raw and rugged. Then you practice being the mature responsible addict in recovery.  Be the assertive voice of sober reason. Each time the devil tells you why you need to act out, you respond with sober rationale until craving and urge dissipates and gives way to mature sober thoughts. It will move you to a more solid space and restore serenity.

3. Change the curse to a blessing. Don’t run from craving. Get out of the path of the whirlwind of illicit urge but don’t run from craving. Transform it into blessing. Once you are out of harm’s way listen to the legitimate need that must be met in a healthy way. Be the mature adult that clarifies the need underneath the craving. Then parent yourself by reaching out to your relationship partner and others in recovery to meet the legitimate need. In this way you transform the curse of addictive craving to the blessing of recovery intimacy.

4. Load up on recovery steroids. A play on words. Recovery steroids is a metaphor for affirmations. Most addicts don’t invest enough time working to change the way they think. What you think about expands. Hammering out deep belief statements is transformational. Practicing and meditating on these new inspired beliefs will revolutionize the way you live. It infuses strength that enables you to work through powerful urges when you want what you say you don’t. Affirmations are an antibiotic to shameful mistaken beliefs. The more you steep yourself in affirmation the weaker the voice of addictive craving and mistaken belief. It requires ongoing daily conditioning.

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