If I am Powerless Over Alcohol/Drugs/Sex etc., Then What Do I have Power Over?

portrait of young desperate man

Contributed by: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

portrait of young desperate man

Addictions, whether they be to drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling, develop and progress as a result of multiple complex factors, which include biology, genetic predisposition, environmental causes, social factors, and more.

Using Addiction To Manage

For some individuals, addictions become a way in which to effectively manage a situation that has unraveled out of control or an environment that has become chaotic or disrupted.

For example, some men or women who have suffered from trauma or abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, or sexual trauma, may turn to drugs, alcohol, or sex as a way to “micromanage” the intensity of emotions that result from these unfortunate events.

Other psychiatric conditions or mental illnesses may also make a person more susceptible to developing an addiction, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and/or bipolar disorder.

Individuals who struggle with any of these mental illnesses may turn to addiction inadvertently, as a way to manage the pain, stress, or pressures they may be facing. Drugs, alcohol, or sex may also become a way to temporary numb reoccurring pain or feelings of despair or loss.

Breaking The Habit

Young man scratching his headThe powerful stronghold of addiction can be difficult to break, not only because of the strong biological mechanisms that drive repeated use, but because of how the behaviors are reinforced.

For example, if a person who has suffered from sexual assault or trauma repeatedly gets high to numb pain or to find a temporary escape from flashbacks or memories, the need for drugs or alcohol will continue to serve a purpose and need.

Addictions can create a superficial sense of control as they temporarily allow an addict to feel as though they are effectively managing the painful experiences in their life that are disorderly and messy.

Often times, choosing recovery means releasing the sense of all control you or a loved one has had over many aspects in life. Many addicts might struggle with recovery because it feels as though life has become chaotic again without the crutch of addiction.

Doing More Harm Than Good

Even when consequences have directly resulted from the addiction and may be hurting an addict and their loved ones, having the false sense of control that comes from addiction can supersede even the harshest of consequences.

An important part of recovery from addiction is learning how to effectively cope and handle the difficult situations in life without the crutch of an addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling.

The reality is that addictions are fatal disorders that will eventually catch up to you or your loved one. No matter how functional you might feel that you are, the truth is that the many facets of your life will begin to quickly unravel under the pressure of addiction.

Relinquishing Control

Sad couple having conflictWhile relinquishing control over an addiction may leave you feeling vulnerable or powerless, it is important to understand that you are in fact gaining power over the addiction itself.

By choosing recovery from addiction, you are in fact empowering yourself to live your life to its fullness potential, without the burden of a deadly disorder that can trap you in pain and suffering.

Exposing your suffering and weakness can actually help you to find true healing. Facing any underlying issues or co-occurring disorders, such as trauma, grief, and abuse, will be uncomfortable and even painful at times, but this is the way towards true healing and recovery.

Uncovering The Addiction

Addiction may have helped you feel a sense of control, but you must remember this is an artificial and temporary escape, like a band-aid used to cover a gapping wound. The pain may be numbed, but this can only go so far in covering the reality of your situation. While there might be fearing in uncovering these wounds, know that you are gaining power over an addiction that has the potential to ruin your life.

You deserve to find true recovery and freedom, which only comes releasing the control you felt with your addiction and surrendering to the healing process. By doing so, you will find that you in fact will gain power over the direction of your life as you learn how to truly heal and find peace with yourself.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What have you feared in letting go of your addiction? How have you faced these fears?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 20th, 2015
Published on AddictionDisorderHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.