The actual idea is quite frightening. Powerless is not the place anyone would choose to be. In that state we are vulnerable. We are in danger. We could get hurt or taken advantage of. A person in prison is powerless. A person being left by a loved one is powerless. And the feeling is devastating
Unless, of course, we deny the loss of power. Then we can act like there is nothing wrong. That everything happening is under our power of control.
When addiction is involved, the biggest danger comes when a person is completely in the grips of substance dependence. Yet refuses to admit it. This is the denial stage, and there is no way to find recovery when denial is present.
There are criticisms to the benefits of a person claiming a state of powerlessness. However, millions have benefitted from a clear understanding of in finding recovery.
It is not the powerlessness itself that brings recovery, but rather the ability to understand the powerlessness one has over their ability to control their urges and stop harming themselves every day.
Recovering from addiction is never an easy process. It is made all the more difficult when we sabotage ourselves at every step. Unfortunately, it is part of human nature to get in our own way to recover in certain circumstances. Thus, people get stopped before they even start. This is because they cannot take the first step: admitting there is a problem.
Addiction means that one has lost the control in their life over whatever it is that they are addicted to. It’s not a matter of will power. It’s not a matter of strongly desiring to get better. Wanting to stop spending all their time, energy, money, happiness—life—on finding the next fix. So many people chained to addiction actually want to get better. The problem is there is a lack of power; there is an inability to make a difference in how their body craves a substance and consequently drives their will.
When a person begins using drugs or alcohol, it was probably recreational. This is the insidious nature of addictive substances. When we start, we believe it is fun (the extra dopamine that kicks in makes us believe this). So it is a choice. We drink or use when we want to have fun.
Of course, as time goes on and our tolerance to substances builds (making our body more and more dependent on drugs or alcohol), and fun begins to lose meaning. Our body begins to need the substance, and the choice to use is gone. It is a prison. And the only reason we believe it is still fun is because we are managing our body’s need for drugs and alcohol.
We grow up our entire lives believing we can fix our problems. This is one reason it is so difficult to admit to powerlessness in addiction. But addiction is a disease. Try and tell a person with type 2 diabetes to stop being diabetic. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s no good fighting the reality of the situation. In stead you learn about the disease, you trust the work of doctors, and you get support to keep yourself managed.
This is the powerlessness needed to find recovery from addiction. It’s a willingness to trust. An ability to rebuild. A place to begin and an arrow that can point toward hope.
Stigma in society about addictions makes many hesitant to even seek help or admit any kind substance use disorder. However, admitting the truth, seeking help to save your own life is a sign of incredible internal strength. It is a strength that cares for the self as well as one that realizes the harm that is happening all around them. It is a strength that leads to wholeness.
Recovery starts at this central point. The person who can finally admit to a lack of power over their situation has actually started to regain that very power. It may be lost from them at the moment, but they can start to reclaim it when they admit that it is no longer theirs.
Have you or your loved one lost power to substance use? If you have been able to admit it, the next step is finding someone who can help. At First Steps Recovery, we are able to take your call and assess the situation. And we are committed to putting you on the right road to the help you need. Call us today.