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Is Willpower Necessary to Overcome an Addiction?

Isabella Kratz

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There are lots of different addictions besides smoking, drinking and overeating. We can be hooked on all kinds of substances. We can be addicted to certain types of behaviour, like gambling or dysfunctional relationships. We can also be addicted to anger, arguments, and drama in our lives, as these will provide us with powerful adrenaline rushes.

So many times, we've tried to change using willpower, but it never worked, or only for a short period of time. We need something other than willpower to overcome our harmful habits. First we need to understand the nature of addiction. An addiction is a compulsion to do something. It's a learnt behaviour, a pattern that repeats itself in our lives. Addictions allow us to escape from reality, from the present moment. They enable us to evade thoughts and problems that seem so big we prefer not to tackle them. It helps us run away from painful feelings. Being addicted to mood-altering substances is a way to avoid emotions we don't want to face. But as time goes on, we become more and more depressed and desperate. There seems to be no way out. The more we feed the addiction, the more it grows and takes over every aspect of our lives, until we decide that we can't continue like this any more. We're willing to change, but we don't know how to go about it. Willpower alone is not enough, as it only leads to cravings, relapses, and discouragement.

The first step towards change is awareness. If we can understand why we act this way, and what motivates us, we are on the road to recovery. The main reasons for my addiction were low self-esteem, insecurity, loneliness and fear. I wanted to stop taking prescriptions drugs, but I just couldn't do it, even though every time, I promised myself that it would be the last. But it never was. I was terrified of giving up my chemical crutch, and couldn't face the stresses of daily life without it. I was hiding from my emotions, instead of facing them. I tried to obliterate my fear and negative emotions, but they always came back with a vengeance.

One day, I realised that I couldn't smother my feelings any more. I couldn't squash my fear. I need to look it in the eyes, to confront it. Only honesty and confrontation will help me change, and I need to do it in a non-violent manner. Fighting addiction through sheer willpower is totally ineffective, because the more we want to get rid of something, the more we draw it to us. What we resist will persist.

There is a better way to do it. Forget about struggling, and instead, allow yourself to go with the flow. Allow yourself to relax, and trust that everything will be allright. Turn your life over to your Higher Power, and ask Him to run your affairs for you from now on. Ask for help, and you will get it. Be open about your problems, and talk to someone about your addiction. Join a support group. Communication is very important. It's a weight off your shoulders, and it will enable you to relate to others in the same situation. Replace fearful thoughts with loving intentions. When emotions become overwhelming, just let them be, and get on with what you're doing. Whatever you're experiencing right now, it will pass eventually. Feel your feelings without acting on them. Observe what's going on inside of you. Love yourself as much as possible, and forgive yourself for everything you've ever done. Make it your objective to love everything about yourself, even the things you don't like!

Cultivate hope and trust, and believe that it will be be true for you. Change is already happening right now, while you're reading this. The fact that you're attracted to this article reflects your intention to lead a happy life. Focus on what you want, instead of what you don't want. What you put your thoughts on will increase. If you keep thinking about the life that you want for yourself and your loved ones, and it will become a reality. Instead of concentrating on what you want to eliminate, remind yourself of what you can look forward to, like freedom, better relationships, better finances, and feeling good about yourself.

Instead of fighting my addiction, I release my negative thoughts about it. When I'm afraid, I try to love everything and everyone. I appreciate my life now, as it is so much more balanced and harmonious than it used to be. I can be who I really want to be. My Higher Power wants me to be successful, and the best way to get there is to enjoy what I've got now, even though it might not be very much in my eyes. But after all I'm still alive, despite my addiction, and that's something to be grateful for.

Willpower can't make me change, but love, happiness and my Higher Power can do it for me.

by Isabella Kratz.
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