It is hard to not fix other people’s problems. When a loved one is struggling with addiction and their behavior is causing harm to themselves or others, it feels like a heavy burden to carry. While others may want to fix someone with an addiction, the person with addiction may just as well want to fix and control their own recovery. Recovery is not about who is in control, it is about letting go of control to have the life you want that allows for you to feel freer without substances.
Brain vs. Behavior
People who use substances may be more likely to do it because their brain is already predisposed to reduce the ability for impulse control. This may cause them to exert less self-restraint when it comes to abusing substances. It also has been found that people who use drugs regularly change their brain chemistry over time. Areas of the brain involved in self-control may be impacted by abnormal surges of dopamine flooding the brain’s limbic system. This controls emotion and behavior. Any attempts to control circumstances focus on failure and the person abusing substances may expect any future efforts at controlling their lives will fail, also. Learned helplessness sets in and they may stop trying to change their behavior because they don’t believe they can.
Get a Grip
Getting a handle on emotional regulation is a skill that takes time. It involves taking charge of thoughts and feelings and analyzing those to make adjustments. Emotional regulation starts with recognizing what is under our control and what is not so people don’t discourage themselves by attempting to control in the first place. Managing those emotions and learning self-control is key to recovery.
Several stages need to happen for emotional regulation to occur. This includes focusing on a situation at hand. The brain will look at it and determine how it makes you feel. Then, you’ll be presented with an emotional response which is followed by behavior. The emotional responses are usually pre-programmed or skewed to the negative. When you consciously change a thought or attitude, you can decide to see it from a more positive viewpoint. To change a situation, you have to distract yourself from it. When you focus so much on the problem, you cannot see the solution. As you look back, you may see it with less emotion and more logic to attack it. In letting go of controlling the narrative, you stop trying to make it happen the way you want, embrace what is going on, and start to make changes that are positive and forward thinking. It is also helpful to look at situations as a glass half full rather than half empty. Taking a positive thinking stance helps you see it with new eyes and you will feel better about it, rather than worse. The control you seek is really just about figuring out how you can navigate the issue to get the desired outcome. Letting go means you accept what is happening and embrace it for what it is. Even as you try to navigate painful challenges, you can still do it with a sense of direction and confidence that you are making better decisions and what comes of that is not always up to you but you can feel better knowing you are making the right choices to help yourself improve in recovery.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We understand that recovery is difficult and there are many layers to healing. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information, sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.