Why I Can’t Stop Using!
Powerlessness is a central part of addiction. Trying to quit, and failing, is a normal part of addiction. Don’t despair. People who seek drug or alcohol treatment usually have tried and failed to quit many times. When you have failed to quit, it is easy to become demoralized. Recovery is a frustrating process. But there is hope. The key is in the unconscious.
A big part of the problem is that people think that they have more control than they actually have. They believe that quitting is just a matter of choosing to do it. Unfortunately, this just is not true. Thinking that you can just quit using drugs or alcohol is like thinking that you can choose to turn down a glass of water in the desert.
Modern research is proving that people have multiple “selves,” “drives,” “personas,” “systems.” These conflicting selves each compete to get their needs met. This is how the human mind works. When making decisions, the brain decides what it values more each moment. It decides to take care of the basics like hunger and thirst, before more complicated stuff. Most people are unaware of this decision process. It happens in the unconscious. When a person has developed a substance problem, alcohol and drugs become like food and water: the mind picks them before more complex things like relationships, jobs, or education. Then, it enforces the decision to drink and drug by producing strong emotions that override thinking.
Since people chronically underestimate the value of their emotions, they struggle for years trying to quit using by using their thoughts, intentions, willpower, and other thinking means. All of them fail. Research clearly shows that emotions, not thoughts, are the driving force for many of our actions. If you want to change your actions, you have to change the source of your emotions, not just your thinking. If you don’t, you will never be able to stop being driven to use by your unchanged unconscious patterns.
The only way to change your unconscious patterns is to seek and practice therapy that deals with unconscious drives: depth therapy. Seek a therapist or center that specializes in these kinds of therapies so you can finally not have to keep saying, “I can’t stop using.”