The Purgatory of Wanting To Change: Understanding Addiction

depression  teen depression ...
depression teen depression ...

Have you ever wanted to start eating healthier but found yourself unable to turn down a few slices of warm, gooey, delicious pizza?

Have you ever known it was time to end a toxic relationship but found yourself unable to break away from the vice-tight grip of a love you know has run its course?

Have you ever wanted to stop biting your nails, quit smoking cigarettes, cease painful procrastinating, decrease wasteful spending or halt any other hard-to-break habit?

Most of us can relate to having an unhealthy or self-destructive habit that we no longer want to engage in while finding ourselves sorely unable to cross over that barrier into initiating and sustaining change. Most of us can appreciate what it is like to experience the pain of knowing better, wanting better, loathing ourselves for failing to do better and not needing anybody else to tell us that we could be doing better. The majority of us can empathize with that dreadful period of dwelling in a purgatory of sorts; that feeling of floating in a space of conscious discontent while watching ourselves continue to participate in that which we do not want to be participating in.

It hurts. It is difficult. It is frustrating. It is lonely.

When this occurs, all we really want is patience, love, understanding, compassion, support and assistance in building our own bridges across that great divide into change.

The very last thing we want is somebody questioning our motivation or desire to change because we want to change, dammit, oh do we want to change. We want to change so badly that it corrodes our insides and robs us of joys and peace of mind that only we know the depths of. To question our yearning for change is to deny the very root of the pain that splices though our being like an overgrown tree tearing through the soil.

We've all been there, we've all wanted to change something we just couldn't seem to change, yet there are some of us who have experienced this extraordinarily difficult human condition in the most magnified of ways. For people living with a substance use disorder, the feeling of wanting so desperately to change while finding that the brain and the soul just don't see eye to eye on the matter is multiplied tenfold. It is not that people living with a substance use disorder don't want to stop using alcohol or other drugs. It is not that there is a lack of motivation or desire, nor that the feeling in the pit of the stomach of wanting so badly to stop that which we can't stop isn't sitting there like a boulder callously crushing the guts. It is simply that the experience of being unable to change is exorbitantly swelled far past the point of declining a slice of cake or passing on an unnecessary trip to the mall. For people living with a substance use disorder, that feeling of wanting to stop but being unable to is present, it is persistent and it is painful.

If somebody you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, please don't question their motivation or desire to change. Please know that it is in there, entrenched in their being and lodged under the rubble of frustration and shame that we can all tap into on some level and understand. Instead of questioning whether that individual wants to change, we should all question how we can show up as the source of patience, love, understanding, compassion, support and assistance in their building a bridge across the divide that we would have wanted somebody to be for ourselves. Then multiply it tenfold.