Is Knowing I am an Addict Enough? A Definition of Powerlessness

Science quickly and easily defines addiction as someone being addicted to a substance. They call it a chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. They say it is the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavior control, craving, and a diminished recognition of significant problems caused by it. And all of this is accurate. In fact, our drug and alcohol rehab program similarly describes our illness. In a different way, using non- formal language, but that is essentially what it describes. They call it a mental obsession and physical allergy, encompassing all the above mentioned. But what am I getting at here right?

Well, as alcoholics and addicts it is great for us to know what we are dealing with and science gives us great info!  But a program of recovery asks us to recognize what it is we are suffering from, but then it asks us to do something else. It asks us to admit powerlessness. Something science never really mentions, something that is a little more than just knowing you are an addict.

You see, it is one thing to admit you are addicted, that you are an addict, and it is another thing to admit you are powerless over drugs and alcohol and need drug and alcohol rehab. Which is why, while science has accurately described addiction, and it is great that you know that definition, it is missing something. It is missing the point. The point being, that you must become aware of the fact that both your body and mind are sick in a way that you absolutely cannot get well alone. You will need help. Knowing the definition of addiction, knowing you are an addict (self-knowledge) is not enough.

So what is powerlessness?

Powerlessness is a realization that comes to everyone differently. It is often described as “hitting bottom.” It is being beaten into submission. It is throwing in the towel and throwing your hands up in the air. It is saying, “I can’t do this.” It is the miracle of the program. It is where your recovery starts. Most of us don’t realize this when it is happening, but once we start acting in our program of recovery we begin to learn a little bit more about ourselves and our disease. We start to learn why we hit that bottom in the first place. We realize that our experiences brought us to this point of knowing more than we were addicts. It brought us to a place where we knew we were addicts who were powerless over the substances.

Which brings me back to what I said at the beginning of this blog, that we suffer from a mental obsession and a physical allergy—essentially making us incapable of healing ourselves—making us entirely without the power when it comes to substances, when it comes to keeping ourselves sober. Why? Well, much like the scientific definition of addiction but more like the program version–the mental obsession keeps us from STAYING sober, and the physical allergy makes it nearly impossible for us to GET sober. I could write a whole second blog about those two elements of powerlessness, but that is not what I am here to talk about (maybe tomorrow).

Anyways, when we become aware of our powerlessness, the way we go about our program is different. And that is the spiritual paradox of it. In admitting you are powerless over alcohol or drugs, you come across power.

And with that, I am going to put it simply. Knowing you’re an addict is important but it won’t keep you sober at drug and alcohol rehab. Admitting you are powerless over drugs and alcohol (what makes you an addict), is where the change happens.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at GateHouse Treatment today.