Any time you bring up marijuana and addiction in the same sentence, a lot of people get really defensive. Whether it is people claiming that cannabis has enough medical benefits to negate any side-effects, or people deflecting to other “hard” drugs like opioids to minimize the impact of marijuana, it is difficult to even broach the subject.
Before anyone reading this goes on the attack with “how dare you speak poorly of cannabis” we suggest reading this article until the end.
It is hard to have a conversation about addiction in general without the debate over marijuana abuse being brought up. Both sides of the argument have some fair points of perspective, but at the end of the day to insist marijuana addiction is utterly impossible is just intellectually dishonest. It may not be as devastating or deadly as heroin or crack-cocaine, but marijuana is addictive. And just because not everyone suffers, doesn’t mean we should neglect the people who do.
Some Basics of Cannabis
If we are going to say marijuana is addictive, we have to cover the basics.
The active ingredient in marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. This cannabinoid is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. It binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (CB1 and CB2). Since THC is a partial agonist, it only activates these receptors to a fraction of their capacity. Cannabinoid receptors modulate a number of things, including:
Short-term side-effects of cannabis use may include:
- Decrease in short-term memory
- Dry mouth
- Impaired motor skills
- Red eyes
- Feelings of paranoia or anxiety
While there are numerous side-effects, there are no reports of fatal overdose in humans caused by cannabis.
The earliest records of cannabis use date as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. Throughout history, it has been used for recreational, medicinal and spiritual purposes across several different cultures and continents. Even though there have been restrictions put on cannabis since the early 20th century, more recently America has experienced a change of perspective, and more and more people are embracing marijuana reform.
We aren’t saying that is the end of the world. This change in drug policy could do a lot of good in many ways. But that does not mean that people should forget that marijuana is addictive.
Better Understanding Addiction
Part of the problem people have with saying marijuana is addictive is the fact that so many people refuse to accept what addiction really is. According to the vast majority of the scientific and medical community, addiction is a complex brain disease (or disorder, if you prefer) that manifests by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. Addiction can also be used in association with behaviors like gambling addiction or sex addiction. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):
“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”
Many refer to it as severe substance use disorder. Different substances cause changes in the how the brain functions. Changes in the brain’s wiring cause people to experience intense cravings for the drug. This is part of why it becomes too hard to stop using the drug. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to:
- Decision making
- Behavior control
One big element of addiction is how despite the negative impact of using the drug on an individual’s life, they continue to engage in the behavior. It causes damage to their professional and personal life, and yet they have an inability to stop using. Over time, people suffering from substance use disorder will build up a tolerance to the substance. This means they require larger amounts of the substance to feel the same effects.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues with people accepting that marijuana is addictive is the stigma that comes with the word addiction. Far too many people still believe that addiction is a choice or a weakness of character. Therefore, it puts cannabis in a bad light if you acknowledge marijuana addiction. If you believe that addiction is only for those who have weak willpower and choose to destroy their lives with dangerous drugs then, of course, you won’t want to believe that marijuana is addictive.
So, for just a moment let us pretend that everyone acknowledges what addiction actually is- a chronic brain disorder.
A Drug by Any Other Name
When we talk about the dangers of drug dependence and addiction, people tend to envision an alcoholic falling off a bar stool, or an addict with a needle in their arm. For decades, movies and television have helped paint this picture of addiction as an extreme. In the midst of an ongoing opioid crisis in America, we see plenty of heroin and fentanyl overdoses on the news to reinforce that stereotype.
But that is not what every addiction looks like.
Still, if you focus mainly on making comparisons to try and debunk that marijuana is addictive, we can prove some points there as well. For instance, look at one of the most dangerous drugs in the world- alcohol.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 3.3 million deaths worldwide due to harmful use of alcohol every year. Yet, this drug is legal pretty much everywhere and readily available all over the United States. In truth, alcohol is responsible for far more death and destruction than cannabis.
And you will notice that not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes addicted to it.
The same can even be said for opioids, since millions of Americans use prescription opioids for pain management, but do not end up addicts. Cannabis is not the only substance with medical potential that people can abuse. It may not be as dangerous as morphine, but that doesn’t mean it is exempt from what defines an addiction.
Why? Because that is not how addiction works.
Be it narcotic medication, illicit street drugs or recreational alcohol use, substance use disorder can develop depending on many variables, including genetic predisposition. When addressing addiction and the stigma, we have to remember that the substance itself is not the only factor.
How Marijuana is Addictive Compared to Heroin
Let us get this out of the way- I am NOT saying marijuana is as addictive as heroin.
An interesting fact about marijuana that most people do not realize is that there is a significant amount of interaction between the cannabinoid receptor system and the opioid receptor system in the brain!
Yes… marijuana activates the same receptor system in the brain as heroin, morphine and oxycontin.
Research shows that without the activation of the µ opioid receptor, THC does not activate the reward system as it normally would. When marijuana activates that opioid receptor it sets off a chain reaction. The opioid system activates the dopamine reward pathway, which gives people those feelings of euphoria. These are the mechanisms believed to underlie the rewarding, and many of the addictive properties, of essentially all drugs of abuse.
Go ahead… let that sink in.
On top of all that, without the activation of the CB1 receptors, research shows that opiates, alcohol, nicotine and perhaps even stimulants would lose some of their reward properties as well. That would mean that the reward effects of more notorious drugs depend on cannabinoid receptors more than previously expected. In short, the data indicates there is a close connection between the cannabinoid receptors that THC targets and the addictive elements of most other drugs.
How does that suggest that marijuana is addictive?
Well, if we agree that addiction includes how a substance changes the way a brain functions, we can see how the impact of THC on cannabinoid and opioid receptors could play a role in the development of marijuana addiction. We learn to rely on substances and outside resources for dopamine, which in turn influences behaviors.
What about Withdrawals?
Some people assume that if marijuana is addictive, it has to be the cause of intense and debilitating withdrawals. Marijuana withdrawals are way more subtle than those associated with heroin or cocaine, but they are every bit as real. The main mental symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:
- Low appetite or loss of weight
Of course, the level of physical dependence concerning even the most chronic marijuana use is low compared to any other drug. Still, people do report physical withdrawal symptoms due to marijuana. These physical symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
Even if someone does not experience painful and dangerous withdrawals, it does not mean the substance is not addictive. Again, a lot of how marijuana addiction develops has to do with the impact on the brain and how drug use impacts an individual’s life. Addiction isn’t just physical, it is also mental.
Marijuana Addiction on the Rise
Marijuana addiction is not as common or life-threatening as opioid addiction. However, reports indicate that marijuana addiction rates are on the rise in many areas. Approximately 9% of cannabis users because addicted, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In 2015, about 4.0 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder. Recent NIDA data indicates that at least 30% of those who use marijuana have some degree of marijuana use disorder.
That does not mean that all those people have an addiction or a severe substance use disorder. It does mean, however, that they are showing signs of dependence.
Many believe that the rising rates of marijuana addiction are due to the increase in potency. Currently, cannabis products are more potent than ever before. New trends like dabbing THC concentrates are also being considered as contributing to the rise in marijuana addiction.
Even the National Cannabis Industry Association does not disagree with the reports about marijuana addiction rates. The organization’s chief spokesman Morgan Fox said he is not surprised that the government cannot convince people that marijuana addiction is a real thing.
“It’s their own fault,” he said of the government. “When people find out they’ve been lied to by the federal government about the relative harms of marijuana for decades, they are much less likely to believe anything they have to say going forward, even if that information is accurate.”
Even leaders in cannabis advocacy can admit that it is possible to become addicted to marijuana. Others may be skeptical of the severity, but it doesn’t make it any less real.
Agree to Advocacy and Awareness
At the end of the day, some people are more than happy to refute any evidence that marijuana is addictive. Some people become aggressively hostile to any suggestion it could be. Some people treat it like it is all or nothing, but reality isn’t that simple.
But here is the thing- you can be an advocate for the benefits of cannabis and acknowledge it is addictive. You’re allowed to do both.
You can advocate for a substances medical potential and the many uses for its compounds that make people’s lives better and raise awareness about the risks some people face. If you want to promote the positive aspect of things like CBD oils, or medical marijuana for treating Veterans with PTSD, those are noble causes to consider. But that does not mean you have to ignore those who struggle with substance use disorder.
Every day, millions of Americans struggle with chronic pain and the medications that help with pain management are an important resource. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the fact that people do become addicted to Oxycontin.
Marijuana is addictive. It may be less common or life-threatening than other drugs like fentanyl or alcohol, but a growing number of people across the nation are still struggling. Addiction treatment facilities are reporting higher demands for marijuana addiction treatment, and more comprehensive recovery programs are helping address drug abuse in all its forms. For those who do suffer from addiction, there should be support and opportunities for compassionate care.
Instead of trying to invalidate the people who are hurting, we should try and appreciate the opportunity to better understand their addiction.
Holistic addiction treatment is about addressing every part of an individual. It is a personalized path that is designed to treat the mind, restore the body and heal the spirit. For over 20 years, Palm Partners Recovery Center has been helping people transform their lives, no matter what drug they struggle with. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Being the month of THANKSgiving, not to mention the month of Veterans Day to show appreciation for the armed forces, it should come as no surprise that November is recognized by many as National Gratitude Month.
But we know that true gratitude is more than saying “thank you” for what others may do or the things we are fortunate enough to have. Gratitude gives us the ability to look past the negative parts of our situation, our lives or the world we live in and focus on appreciating all the good that we do have. Practicing daily gratitude allows us to create a more profound understanding and connection with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. Gratitude creates compassion and empathy; it helps us to be more involved and more self-aware.
But this writer believes that true gratitude takes action. So this month, in observance of National Gratitude Month, I encourage people to take action to share that gratitude with others.
The Practice of Being Grateful
Back in 2015, November was officially proclaimed National Gratitude Month throughout the US and Canada by National Day Calendar. The initial announcement for the observance comes from Stacey Grewal, an author, spiritual mentor and coach who advocated for the proclamation. Grewal stated,
“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,”
Grewal herself has been proclaimed a “gratitude guru” who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals.
10 years ago in 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Practicing gratitude also impacts the overall experience of happiness. All this is typically not a momentary improvement. Many of these benefits turn out to be long-lasting.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crisis
- Increased self-esteem
- Amplified energy levels
- Strengthened heart
- Improved immune system
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved emotional and academic intelligence
- Extended aptitude for forgiveness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression
- Reduced headaches
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
- Heightened sense of spirituality
There are even a number of events and activities to get involved with this month, including the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge where one can sign up for a daily email that suggests opportunities to practice gratitude in new and interesting ways.
But you don’t have to commit to any event or challenge to help promote gratitude.
Giving with Gratitude
Looking at the definition of gratitude on the all-knowing Google, we find it as:
“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Right there we see the inclusion of the concept that gratitude means to at least be willing to take some kind of action, i.e. showing appreciation and returning the kindness.
The way I express my understanding of gratitude is like this:
- If I am grateful for my job, I show up and work hard
- If I am grateful for my home, I respect it and honor it, along with anyone who may live there
- Being grateful for those who have helped me, I help whoever I can when I can
My expression of gratitude means making every attempt possible to ensure I do not take the gifts I have for granted. We should not neglect the things or the people we have in our lives as if we know they will always be there. When we become complacent, our gratitude might slip away.
Recovery from addiction gives us so much more to do with that gratitude.
Grateful for Recovery
In recovery from drugs or alcohol, it can be especially important for many of us to stay grateful. In the recovery community, we hear people all the time talking about how grateful they are to be alive, or how grateful they are to have another chance at life or a fellowship of support in recovery. All of this is so important, but again it takes action.
If we are grateful for the opportunity to get better, we should not squander it with defiance and neglect.
If we are grateful to be alive, we should focus on living better lives and doing something meaning with our lives; even if to you that simply means being a better parent/spouse/child/sibling in your family.
Being grateful reminds us of the kindness of others and the strength that they gave us to get ourselves out of addiction. So we should live by example and help those who still need help, recovering or not. With all the benefits of gratitude we’ve mentioned, it only makes sense that someone in recovery from addiction would want to take advantage of National Gratitude Month as an excuse to exercise that part of themselves. Treating others as if you are already grateful for the opportunity is training for the mind, body, and spirit. For those working to overcome addiction, gratitude can be a
Share the Love for National Gratitude Month
If you want to get involved, it is pretty easy. Just be grateful every chance you get.
In the world, as it is right now we could use more love and gratitude. With so much going on in such divisive times, like the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak tearing apart so many lives, we should take every chance to bring our communities together.
Or if you want to help share the love and raise awareness, share this article with your friends and use #NationalGratitudeMonth on social media posts.
Have an amazing November! Remember to be grateful and to show that appreciation and kindness with action and goodwill toward others!
It’s been said that healing can come from the places you least expect it. Make sure to appreciate the opportunity. For those who are looking for something to be grateful for, it starts with the fact you are still here. If you are suffering or lost, maybe its time for a new foundation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
When we talk about national addiction recovery, what we mean is acknowledging how we as a country and a culture are recovering in our communities. How are we supporting those in addiction treatment? What services are we making available? How is our economy recovering? What are we doing to prevent the spread of addiction?
So if we are taking away resources that not only treat those already struggling, but also prevent more people from suffering, how do we expect to ever escape the devastation caused by the opioid epidemic and rise of overdose deaths?
One of the most divisive issues facing America today is access to healthcare and the extent to which health coverage should or should not be provided. The debate has gone on for a long time, and in the shuffle of each proposal, it seems mental health and addiction services are constantly threatened. Recently there have been more attacks on addiction treatment access. So how is the possibility of more decreases in health coverage going to hurt national addiction recovery?
The Parity Protections
Once upon a time in 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) created guidelines that required health insurers to treat mental health and addiction coverage exactly the same as they would with medical and surgical care options. So this means that prior to the MHPAEA those who were lucky enough to have health insurance still could not be guaranteed to receive equitable benefits for mental health or substance abuse care.
These protections were even further expanded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legislation put forth by Congress in 2016 with the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes tougher enforcement of parity requirements.
Since the Trump administration stepped in adamantly proclaiming the goal or repealing and replacing the ACA there has been a lot of concern about whether or not any new proposals will decrease health coverage for mental health and addiction services. Many addiction and mental health advocates worry that parity protections and enforcement will also lose their power.
As of yet, politicians are still hoping for a compromise that will keep the protections and resources for treating addiction and mental health intact.
BCBS Cuts Mental Health Coverage
One instance of concerning changes in policy has come out of Minnesota. Just this September the largest insurance carrier in the area, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is making drastic decreases to payments to mental health providers.
We are talking about cuts in addiction and mental health coverage to the tune of that’s 33%!
This decision came after a recent survey showed that the individual therapy costs of Minnesota had exceeded the national average for the last two years. But mental health professionals immediately spoke out against this move. Protests actually took place on Thursday the 14th outside the headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Eagan, MN. Many advocates and protesters are saying these kinds of cuts will put mental health clinics out of business.
The insurance provider is now under fire as caregivers insist this change will discourage necessary, extended psychotherapy services. People in Minnesota see decisions like that of BCBS as being a violation of the protections offered by parity.
If this kind of policy shift within insurance providers becomes a trend, we could see a dramatic decrease in the people getting substance abuse and mental health treatment. These changes can hurt our national addiction recovery by slowly cutting off the people who need every chance they can get, especially during a devastating opioid epidemic.
Threats within Medicaid
Believe it or not, Medicaid is currently the single largest payer for behavioral health services in America. Threats to the Medicaid health coverage of services like this could do critical damage.
At one point the Trump administration and congressional leaders seemed partial to the idea of turning Medicaid into a block grant program. This strategy would give states a fixed amount of money to provide healthcare for low-income residents. However, policy experts say that means states would have to:
- Reduce eligibility
- Narrow the scope of benefits
- Impose cost-sharing requirements
All of which would also impact the number of people seeking substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Recently GOP representatives and the Trump administration began the work of fundamentally altering state Medicaid programs. Some of these new requirements include governors pushing for:
So again, there is the very real possibility of more hurdles being put in-between those who need help and the already limited resources available to them.
Stigma Influencing Policy
The bigger part of this issue is that these shifts are happening in a way that shows how stigma is influencing policy. We are only further hurting our national addiction recovery by letting this idea that addiction is a moral failing or class issue limit what we are willing to provide to those who need help.
The reason behavioral and mental health services are so crucial is because the cause of addiction is not just the drugs themselves. The vast majority of recovery advocates endorse the concept that addiction develops from multiple factors, such as:
- Lack of access to resources
- Poor social networks
So in fact, by limiting coverage to mental health services, the problem could be magnified.
Mental health services like behavioral therapy being lost with a decrease in coverage means that more children and young adults could go without the support systems. What this does is puts more people in the exact circumstances where we see substance abuse and addiction grow.
So in essence, not only could these constant threats to addiction and mental health coverage be taking away treatment for those already addicted, but it also takes away from prevention programs in communities that fight to keep addiction rates down.
National Addiction Recovery Effects Everyone
If we have any hope of having sustainable national addiction recovery then it is vital that our country continues to push for mental health parity in every discussion about healthcare. If we ever hope to overcome the demoralization of communities we have to fight for mental health and addiction services.
This isn’t about treating the individual’s symptoms with just medications either. Access to other crucial elements like housing, medical care, and basic preventative measures all contribute to the overall mental health of any individual.
When people have better access to the specific levels of care they need, we empower them to contribute to the better communities we need for healthy nation-wide recovery.
People struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and we should all fight to protect coverage that makes treatment more available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The past week the country watched as yet another powerful natural disaster loomed overhead. Hurricane Irma had been measured as an intensely powerful Category 5 storm. By the time it reached Florida the storm was spanning at 400 miles wide. Winds topped over 130 miles per hour on Sunday. All this came only about a week after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey struck the state of Texas. Landing as a Category 4 on the west coast of South Florida, the dangerous winds of Hurricane Irma reached out to Miami and even West Palm Beach on the eastern coastline.
Areas have begun experiencing flooding, and there were even earlier reports of tornadoes picking up as more than 4.7 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power.
Shelters across the state had been utilized to help thousands and thousands of residents, while well over 30,000 evacuated from the Florida Keys ahead of the storm. As of Monday, Hurricane Irma had downgraded to a tropical storm with dwindled intensity as it nears Georgia. Resources are currently working diligently in Florida to assure the residents’ safety and restore power and clear roadways.
As the incident unfolds and recovery efforts begin, the recovery community of Florida stands strong as well.
Of course in a situation like this staying connected is crucial for everyone. Whether people choose to evacuate and travel outside the projected path, or if they stock up on supplies and fortify their homes, communication is key.
By staying connected people can get updates on the possible dangers that may still be present after the initial storm. They can also stay informed on relief efforts in their area if needed. Some may feel they are safely out of harms way after the perilous gusts and overwhelming rains have ceased. However, there are still residual risks that come after these storms.
Staying connected can be made even more difficult with power outages.
For the recovery community in South Florida staying connected has helped so many people keep track of their peers in the recovery community to provide support. Not only are accredited addiction treatment providers coordinating with local officials to ensure the safety of their clients and staff, they are also connecting with families and loved ones to help clients update their contacts about current conditions.
Meanwhile, people within the recovery community continue to check in with their peers. Many of us are dedicated to ensuring our friends in sobriety are safe and protected. In situations like this sometimes those in recovery also need someone to reach out to. These stressful times can be all it takes to push some individuals toward risk behaviors. In this case, relapse prevention maybe mean as much as staying connected through Hurricane Irma.
Service and Support
Supporting each other within the community is a vital piece of the recovery process, both in the aftermath of a natural disaster and in the addiction recovery community. When something tragic impacts so many lives people always band together to restore stability to family, friends and neighbors. First responders and volunteers try to help people clear out wreckage, provide food and other important amenities, and rescue those in need. Public officials coordinate with other organizations and community efforts to help repair what needs repaired and ensure citizens’ health and safety.
In short, great numbers of people commit to doing service to aid in the recovery.
In the world of drug and alcohol addiction, service to others and giving back can be a pivatol aspect of the recovery process. Men and women in recovery from addiction band together to provide each other with the means to be safe and supported. Recovering addicts and alcoholics volunteer themselves to working with those most in need, and they take on positions of service in order to ensure everyone has an opportunity to stay healthy and safe.
All this can be seen in South Florida after Hurricane Irma, when both aspects of the community (recovery and non-recovery) have worked independently and collaboratively to protect the people in need and support each other. Addiction treatment and mental health services have actively coordinated with first responders. Meanwhile, individuals offer assistance to their peers through meetings and service work. Sometimes something as simple as a ride to work a place to stay with power makes a huge difference.
Rebuilding after Hurricane Irma
Most of the eastern coastline was spared the brunt of the storms destructive power. Still, Hurricane Irma still managed to impact those farthest from the landfall. Palm Beach County alone experienced an estimated 375,350 power outages, while areas like Miami-Dade reached up to 623,820 outages.
So far there has been a great deal of effective restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. All Florida highways are now open. Gas supplies are still struggling, but the state is coordinating with the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to open ports for tankers carrying fuel. Now shipments to the tune of millions or gallons are flowing toward Port Everglades. Airports have reopened and curfews have either been lifted or shortened. Electrical companies are working diligently to restore services to the state, but that effort could be ongoing for some time.
The Florida Keys suffered a great deal of damage, and efforts to help revive the area are ongoing, thought this too seems like it will be an uphill battle for now. The fight today has become a mission for the return to normalcy for most Florida residents. Officials are hoping to get people back to work and get businesses back to serving their communities as well.
A Community in Recovery
For the addiction recovery community, getting back to helping those in need is also a priority. Getting people into safe environments that help their sobriety; pursuing further outreach efforts to those in active addiction who may be suffering now more than ever; support groups re-opening to be there for their members.
There is a strong presence in this area of those who are already experienced in bouncing back from devastation and desperation; the recovering alcoholics and addicts of South Florida. Some of us are used to going without amenities. In sobriety many of us are used to giving all we can to others. Now is definitely the time to put those unique experiences to good use.
Today, all of Florida recovers from the effects of Hurricane Irma. Those of us in addiction recovery should always be willing to give back to the community that has given us so much. We can find a way to volunteer some time, or make donations to support those with less than us. Now more than ever we should offer assistance to the addicts and alcoholics who still struggle. But don’t stop there. All of Florida is now a community in recovery. We are all in this together, so lets all be part of something to make it better. We will recover.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those effected.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma the South Florida area is still home to one of the strongest recovery communities in the world. This is a community with a strong commitment to safe and effective treatment options. South Florida is full of amazing individual’s working hard to hold each other up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Overconfidence in Recovery:
Confidence is supposed to be an excellent quality. We are always told to believe in ourselves in every endeavor we pursue. Whether it is a sport or a school exam, having confidence is touted as the key to success. However, when it comes to addiction recovery, can too much confidence actually become harmful?
Overconfidence Can Lead to Relapse:
The reality is too much confidence is not great in recovery. While it is great to have confidence in your program, it is important to stay humble. The emotions that arise from overconfidence can block underlying issues. Having an overconfident mindset can hinder your recovery process. It is important to make recovery a priority regardless of how much time you have.
Why Overconfidence Encourages Relapse:
- Distorted Self-Image: A major part of recovery is staying humble. Overconfidence makes someone believe that they are not as bad as newcomers. They may start to feel they no longer need their program and start to ponder if they are an addict at all. Overconfidence encourages the belief that it is not a huge deal to have a drink or use casually, which is far from true for an addict.
- Irrational Thoughts: Overconfidence can lead an addict to believe they deserve certain rewards in conjunction to their success. They might feel they are worthy of a celebration. They quickly convince themselves that one drink is not going to hurt them because they are now “in control” of their addiction. This is risky behavior and can lead someone down a slippery slope.
- Complacent Behavior: This is when an addict starts to believe that their addiction is not nearly as bad as they once thought. They start believing that they can now live normally due to the length of time they have been sober. They think they are cured so they slowly stop going to meetings and stop thinking of themselves as an addict. This leads to new addiction or a relapse.
Signs of Overconfidence Include:
- Rejecting suggestions from others
- Seeking immediate results
- Belief in having all the answers
- Always seeing your situation as unique from everyone else
- Feeling that you deserve preferential treatment
- Feeling “healed” or “in control”
- Always wanting to lead instead of listening
It is crucial to understand that addiction will not simply disappear. Regardless of how long you have been sober, addiction can always creep up again. Addiction is not a curable disease; it is a manageable disease that does not have room for overconfidence.
How We Become Too Confident:
Overconfidence may be a trait acquired in recovery, or it can be a trait a person struggled with before sobriety. In fact, most addicts battle overconfidence their entire life. For example, those times you tried to use and thought no one would notice.
Sadly, this behavior can persist after recovery even after hitting rock bottom. Even those with no history of overconfidence can start to become overzealous in their recovery program. They start to believe that they are above the rest of their friends and family because of the work they have done in their recovery.
Consequences of Overconfidence:
When you act too confident, you hurt yourself and others. You hurt others who are still learning to trust the person you have become. You hurt yourself because overconfidence increases the vulnerability to a relapse. It is important to remember that recovery is something that takes effort every single day. Regardless of how much time you have, stay humble in your program. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Remember to support others struggling, and stay focused on your recovery. Overconfidence is not a quality anyone should strive for. Instead, focus on staying sober every single day. If you are struggling to stay sober, or are currently having issues with substance abuse. Please reach out. We want to help you get back on track.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135