According to Dr. Lance Dodes, our current treatment model for addiction is ineffective. In many cases, people are sent to programs that deal with addiction only and then sent to a different program to treat their mental health issues. This fragmented treatment plan ignores the fact that addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Addiction persists, because it serves a purpose. The addictive behavior is often intended to reverse a profound feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Addressing those feelings is key to treating addiction.
The drive behind addiction tends to be rage and feelings of being trapped. This rage compounds the feelings of helplessness, so addiction becomes a displaced action. Addiction is a symptom of deeper psychological problems.
The book lists seven steps for overcoming addiction.
Step 1 – Understand addiction as behavior driven by psychological/emotional distress
Step 2 – Addictions are compulsive behaviors and need to be treated through therapy which allows the person to gain a better understanding of themselves.
Step 3 – Recognize key moments in the addiction processes. The thoughts and feelings that drive addictive behavior are clues to the cause and treatment options for the addictive behavior.
Step 4 – Recognize your defenses that hide the root cause of your addiction. Look for the feelings and thoughts that are driving you.
Step 5 – Understand what is happening at the key moment, what’s the trigger. What are the corresponding feelings that make you feel helpless or powerless?
Step 6 – Develop short-term strategies to deal with triggers and emotional distress. Ask yourself why you are thinking about your addiction and look for alternative behaviors. Restore feelings of power by finding a practical way out of the trap. If you can’t change your circumstances, focus on the feelings and learn to deal with those feelings.
Step 7 – Eliminate or reduce feelings of powerlessness and helplessness by being an expert on yourself. Also, learn to identify high risk situations. Knowing the risks in advance allows you to prepare for it.