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Friday, March 26, 2021

White Knuckling Sobriety

white knuckling sobriety

When something scares you, like a fast carnival ride, you might grab hold of the safety bar so tightly that your knuckles turn white. On the ride, you can hold on until it is over and the danger has passed. If you are attempting to give up an addiction to alcohol, you might try the same approach. You may just want to hold on tight until it’s all over. White knuckling sobriety does not work well, though, and could actually leave you with serious mental and physical health issues.

Willpower Is Not Enough

The first step in the 12-Step program is to admit that you are powerless over alcohol—that your life has become unmanageable. Your willpower may help you as you accomplish other goals in your work and your personal life. It is not enough when your goal is to overcome your addiction to alcohol.

There is a biological basis of addiction, which helps to explain why you need much more than willpower or good intentions to overcome it. White knuckling sobriety efforts may help you stay away from alcohol for short periods of time, but you cannot control your addiction successfully, for the long-term, this way.

Addiction changes the way your brain functions, says Dr. George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Koob adds, “A common misperception is that addiction is a choice or moral problem, and all you have to do is stop. But nothing could be further from the truth. The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.”

Dangerous Withdrawal Symptoms

Trying to give up alcohol on your own can result in serious mental and physical health issues. You also face an increased risk of relapsing, or returning to your addictive behaviors, when attempting white knuckling sobriety. Giving up alcohol suddenly, without professional medical supervision, can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms within just a few hours.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can result in a combination of emotional, mental, and physical symptoms, from anxiety to fatigue to nausea. You could experience tremors, headaches, an increased heart rate, confusion, nightmares,  and high blood pressure. Some symptoms can be severe, including hallucinations and seizures. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening.

Addressing Underlying Issues

White knuckling sobriety may help you give up drinking for a few hours or a few days, but without appropriate treatment you will not have the appropriate tools to get to the root of your addiction. It is important to understand the underlying issues that led to your drinking and that continued your addictive behaviors.

You may have started drinking to try to cope with a traumatic event in your life. White knuckling your way through this scary time is not enough to help you understand the impact of the trauma and the alcohol on your life. You may have a family history of alcoholism or you may have felt pressure from a friend or family member to start drinking. Understanding the causes can help guide you through an effective and successful recovery.

Safe Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction treatment starts with a safe and medically supervised detoxification to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms in a healthier way. Detox will not only get rid of the alcohol in your body, it will also help you with a fresh start toward recovery, in an emotional, physical, and spiritual way. You will be better prepared to heal your mind and your body with clarity and hope.

Knowing that your willpower is not enough, it will also be important for you to ask for guidance and support from a higher authority. Daily prayer is an integral part of an effective addiction treatment program, both introspective personal prayer and group prayer. Giving up your intentions to forge ahead with white knuckling your sobriety, you will learn to “let go and let God,” sharing your challenges with a higher power.

California Faith-Based Addiction Treatment

To get help with your alcohol addiction, please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment program. Our team helps men and women break the cycle of addiction and begin anew. We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of recovery.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

What Does It Mean to Be Powerless Over Addiction?

powerless over addiction

It is human nature to want to be in control of your life. In reality, there are many things you cannot control. An addiction to drugs or alcohol is one of those things. What does it mean to be powerless over addiction? It does not mean you cannot change your situation, to overcome your addiction and move forward toward recovery.

The First Step

The first step in the 12-Step Program states “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” The same powerlessness applies to drugs and other addictive substances that have taken over your life. Being powerless doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands and say there’s nothing that can be done, though.

For people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, powerlessness means using against their will. If they cannot stop, how are they able to tell themselves they are in control? Even with the greatest amount of willpower and the sincerest desire to stop using, being powerless means they have no choice, they cannot stop using on their own, without appropriate help.

Admitting to Being Powerless

There is a reason that the first step in the 12-Step program is admitting to being powerless. Insisting that you can overcome your addiction on your own is not healthy or effective. When you are addicted, you have lost the power of choice. Willpower is practically non-existent.

However, when you admit to being powerless and to being unable to manage your life in addiction, you open the door to recovery. The memory of the humiliation and suffering you experienced just a week ago is probably already lost in your memory, but try to think about how you feel when you are using drugs or drinking.

Your concerned friends and family members want to help you, but you have to admit for yourself that you are addicted. As an individual who was addicted but who is now in recovery noted, “admitting powerlessness meant that no amount of trying or practicing or self-control was going to change the way that drugs and alcohol affect my brain. This concept is about accepting what is and what is not. Step one was a gateway to freedom and a proclamation of progress.”

The Next Steps

Ask yourself whether you can control your use of addictive substances. Most people will say that control is impossible, at least for any length of time. This clearly suggests that as someone who is addicted, you have no control over your use of drugs or alcohol. After admitting that you are powerless over your addiction, the next steps are geared to relying on others.

Step 2 emphasizes that we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” That is followed by step 3, which states that we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Being powerless means that we need to turn to others and to a higher power for the help we need to move forward with treatment and recovery.

The Writings of Paul

In Romans 7:18-19, the apostle Paul writes “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” The passage tells those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol of how the apostle Paul was also powerless over the sin in his life, apart from the power of God.

Paul had the will to do what was right but had the inclination to do what brought him back into the “captivity of sin.” When facing your addiction and taking that first step, you will also become aware of how powerless you are over your addictive behaviors. No matter how strongly you might will yourself to act in a certain way or to do (or not do) a certain thing, you will find that you are not able to carry through with it consistently. You have become powerless over your addictive behaviors and your life has become unmanageable.

The Good News

Being powerless does not mean that you need to give up and give in. Reaching out for help, through prayer and by seeking out a treatment program for your addiction, can help you overcome your addiction and move forward in recovery. As one individual put it, “I began moving from a lack of awareness into a new awareness and into the possibility of change. This cultivated the first glimmer of hope I felt in my sobriety – the idea that I was capable of living life in a different way. A new way of living, void of pain, and the awareness to recognize when I am powerless in a situation.”

California Faith-Based Addiction Treatment

If you struggle with a substance use disorder, please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment program. Our team helps men and women break the cycle of addiction and begin anew. We rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to get individuals on the path of recovery.

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