Calculus of Addictions

A man was so fond of alcohol that he used to drink daily. Also his drinking was unregulated. As evenings came; the drinks were poured and then there was no holding back.

His wife concerned with this situation dragged him to a life coach.
‘Can you define the word alcoholic for me” the coach started by asking.

‘Alcoholic is a person who has irresistible urge to drink; who indulges that urge often and is extremely uncomfortable if s/he does not get his regular indulgence’ the man replied.

‘That’s very good. So are you an alcoholic or addicted to alcohol?’

‘Of course not. I like drinking and I find lot of pleasure in it. However I am not addicted to it. I can leave it any time I want to.’

‘ So have you tried leaving it.’ Coach wanted to know. ‘Are there any examples from your recent past where you did not drink for days together.’

‘No I haven’t felt the urge to do that but I know I will be able to abstain if I wanted to’

‘So essentially this is what you believe. It has never been tested practically. ‘

‘Yes but don’t you believe that I can do so.’ The man was a little peeved on being doubted.

‘It is highly unlikely that you will be able to quit drinking just by deciding about it one day. This is because you are making two classical cognitive mistakes, first is overestimating your own will and second is underestimating the force of a habit.

You see actions when repeated over a considerable length of time become habits which acquire a brute automated force. Once you start to swim against the current you realize its true strength. Likewise when you quit a set habit and its withdrawal symptoms hit you it is then you realize how unprepared you are for the contest.

Secondly will power is a muscle which is to be exercised daily to keep it in good shape. If you do not exert your will regularly in other spheres or decide things in binary and then hold on to those decisions, your will power will be weak.

So once you want to quit and when after couple of days the power of habits start to push; you start to negotiate with yourself. Maybe I can drink on weekends or maybe I can drink at parties/vacations or you start to use some kind of circular logic as W C Fields once famously quipped: I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake which also I keep handy.

So if will power is weak, hard decisions become soft incrementaly and before long they get reversed. So unfortunately you do not understand the true impact of forces you are contending with.

‘So what do I do now. Is there a solution to this situation.’ The man panicked.

‘The first step is that you stop denying that there is an addiction problem. Denial is a resistance pattern employed to protect ourselves from making difficult choices.

Post acknowledgement you can take small mental and physical steps to build your will muscle and counter the habit hustle.
In physical steps, don’t tempt yourself by being near bars/pubs or liquor shops. Do not keep liquor at home or go to wet parties. Also if you can, visit hospitals to viscerally feel the state of ailments of people whose bodies are wasted by consumption.

In mental steps practice visualizations or NLP patterns of a cured you, or try hypnosis for planting anti alcohol suggestions in your sub-conscious as also give yourself small goals to exercise and build your will power. Do find some replacement activity as evenings will now be a vacuum for you.

Finally, all the “how you can de-addict “ as I have outlined above will never work unless you have a big WHY in place. Why would you want to get cured? Whether it is for your self, kids or your family find your why first and remind yourself everyday of it. It will be your “go to motivating corner” whenever the struggle gets overwhelming and in a weak moment you just want to have that one drink to feel better” The coach observed.

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