Overcome denial and automatic behavior

The Pleasure Wheel Spins

Why are addictive activities so attractive? Some people get off on drugs. Others do it with booze. Others bet it all. Still others get it through sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Some gorge or starve themselves into shape. Some cut or burn themselves. And eventually every one plays cat and mouse with the Grim Reaper.

Whatever your addiction is, it is what it is because you just can't seem to get enough. Do you remember how it all got started? That first time, when you were a virgin. How did it feel? And what about those really great times? Do you remember them? You never thought you could get off like that. Remember how drunk you got how the coke really electrified you the heroin chilled you that orgasm rocketed you? How you came so close to winning it really big? How great all that food felt going down and how thin you were just starting to get? Do you remember? How long has it been since your 'high' made you feel that good?

The good times, the high times, where are they now? Things have changed. It doesn't feel as good anymore. You've tried to find the buzz you used to get - and it's nowhere to be found. Maybe this is starting to scare you. Your (real) friends and your family, they're looking angry, hopeless, frustrated, and sad. Are they about ready to give up on you? Enablers are getting scarce. Reality (and maybe the law) is closing in. And you just don't know what to do. Or do you?

The Incredible Shrinking Lifestyle

You can take care of yourself. You know how to play the game. You can control your high. No way does it control you. It is not an addiction, and fuck you for saying it is. No one is going to tell you what to do.

Maybe you are having a tough time paying your bills. Maybe you've lost a lot of the energy you had. Maybe you are not sure of where you are going to be living. Maybe you are feeling really sick inside. Maybe someone you cared about died. Maybe-no, that will never happen!

You are smart. You know how to manipulate them. It's almost too easy. So what if they're giving up on you? So what if they're starting to pull away? You'll find more helpers. You always have.

So what'll it be? So what if your lifestyle is shrinking and you're alone. You can still use your high to make it all go away. Right?

No One Is an Island

But do you want to cut yourself off from your real friends and family? Your spouse, your lover, your parents, your kids, your best buddies, your sister, your brother, everyone you once loved and cared about? Can you remember how that felt? Or are you just numb? What about the rest of your reality? Where you work, learn, play, eat, and wake up? What kind of shape is your lifestyle in? Do you have money in the bank? A warm bed? A car? A license? Can you look your friends in the eye? Can you go to a mirror, look at your-self, and say, "I love you"? Does anyone still love you? Do you care? Or are you an island.surrounded by an addictive sea? Can you survive all alone? You can always get your high. Sure you can ...so fuck them all.

Comfortably Numb

Roger is a young man in his mid-twenties. He works as a bar manager and parties hard several times a week. A couple of dozen shots and lines of cocaine are on his party menu from 9 P.M. to 4 A.M. as often as seven days a week. One night Roger was heading home in his car at a leisurely 140 miles per hour. His head was buzzed into a blur. He misjudged a turn and slammed his car into an embankment. Miraculously, he only dislocated his shoulder and badly bruised his face when his air bag deployed. His car was totaled and he was arrested. Luckily, Roger's brother had connections with the police and he was able to get the charges reduced and help Roger avoid jail time. Roger vowed that he would stop his partying. This resolution dissolved once his injuries healed. Roger went back to his alcohol and drugs.

Lately he started to worry about the blackouts he has been experiencing. The other day he noticed that he had injured himself above his eye, but he could not recall how it happened. His friends told him later that when he had passed out the night before, the corner of his eye caught a piece of concrete curb. Roger felt a little worried. He also was starting to get concerned about the fact that he had lost about twenty pounds and hadn't eaten anything for the last six days. People tell him that he doesn't look too good. Roger isn't sure whether all his partying is good for him anymore. He is looking for an easy solution, but he is so numb that he barely cares.

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Thinking About Change

Does Roger's experience remind you of what you are going through now? Do you still think that you can drug and drink but avoid becoming addicted? Are you feeling so "comfortably numb" that you hardly care what's happening to you? Are your friends and family getting scared and frustrated with you?

Even if your life is beginning to feel out of control you can always make the choice to stop and take a long clear look at what you are really doing to yourself. For many addicts, making this first decision, taking the first step, is frightening. Giving up an addictive substance - especially all at once - can be too daunting to even consider. But overcoming an addiction isn't an all-or-nothing event. Some people cut back first, reducing the most dangerous parts of their addiction before tackling the rest of it. Twelve-step programs preach that it has to be all or nothing, but that approach doesn't work for everyone. We believe that a small start is better than no start. Kill the Craving offers you a different starting point for becoming un-addicted. Instead of asking you to suddenly begin avoiding everything associated with your addiction, it asks you to directly confront the objects of your addiction in order to overcome you impulse to use, rather than simply resist or ignore the impulse. This differs from the twelve-step approach's advice to avoid people, places, and things associated with addiction.

Controlling the Impulse

People who are addicted think they're in control. People who run rehab programs tell them they aren't. When the addict insists, the rehab people say he is in denial. The rehab people confront the addict until he admits that he is out of control. Once the addict surrenders the belief that he is in control, he can work the rehab program. Once he admits that he is helpless, he can accept help, get free, and stay free.

But how can someone who isn't in control of his or her addiction decisions get free of addictive behavior? Is it the program, the support group, or the addict's higher power that makes this possible? A little known fact: Majorities of people who get addicted to something (drugs, cigarettes, alcohol) stop their addictions without a rehab program or formal support group. How do these people manage this feat if they are not in control of their addictive behaviors?

Being in control of something means that you make decisions about it. Sometimes your decisions produce the results you want. Sometimes they don't. You have equal control of your good and bad decisions. When you make a bad decision, the cause can often be traced to a lack of knowledge, experience, forward planning, anticipation, or skill. Sometimes your values (or lack thereof) lead you to a bad choice, but you never make good or bad decisions because you are not in control. Making decisions means control. So what are those rehab programs referring to when they say, "You are out of control?" We believe that they confuse a pattern of bad decision-making (such as the pattern of substance abuse) with not being in control of the act of decision-making. When they say you are in denial, what they really mean is that you are ignoring the negative consequences that your decisions produce. But you are still in control of your decisions, even though you may be "blind" to their full effects.

If you want to start to think about controlling your addictive impulses, you begin by thinking about the results that they have produced lately. Then you decide whether the results please you. If they do, then you continue your addiction. If they don't, you need to weaken your desire to use and develop a plan for reducing your addictive activity to a pleasing and healthy level.

But how do you evaluate whether your recent decisions please you? And if part of an addiction's nature is to "blind" you to negative consequences, how can you even be sure you are seeing all the results? The next sections of this self-help guide are for those who are ready to evaluate the results of their addictive decisions and the satisfaction they produce.

(Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Kill the craving)