When coaching alcoholics and drug addicts, I used to be amazed that people could so easily relapse and fall back into their addictions through sheer boredom, until I came across another addiction that some people have.
A lot of addicts have chaotic and dramatic lifestyles and spend their lives stumbling from one calamitous incident to the next. Of course, after getting sober, life can feel very flat and boring.
Alcoholics and drug addicts can often be among those people who are actually addicted to drama. They are obsessed with chasing the highs of unmanageability and chaos. Which is probably why it is generally believed that a lot of people need to really reach ‘rock bottom’ before they can quit.
But it’s not just alcoholics and drug addicts who can become addicted to emotions and states – many people find themselves living their lives according to unhelpful patterns because of their beliefs.
Drama is an interesting one, because it can be driven by beliefs such as “Life is not interesting without the highs and lows”, which is actually a very common belief. It is a belief that most people would not really question.
However I would question the way that people bring about the fulfilment of that belief – you can just as easily get the highs and low by starting a business, training for a marathon, raising teenagers or undertaking a new career.
I am also not a believer in the ‘rock bottom’ theory. I think if people ask for help soon enough, a good coach can guide them to a place where being motivated by success and happiness is more of a driver than avoiding pain.
Again, this is not just my experience with addicts, but with anyone with an unhelpful pattern or problem. Build up a truly bright and real picture of the future, take away the limitations and you do not need the stick if you have a massive juicy carrot and a roadmap of the path ahead.
by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and What Is Self-Esteem?