The Top 10 Reasons Why People FAIL To RecoverNov 07, 2020
—And How to Reboot Your Own Life Today—
It is now estimated that an alarming 50 million people worldwide die each year from drug overdose or health related issues. Suicide claims another one million victims, or one death every 40 seconds – mainly from those who couldn’t find their way out from the grips of their unhappiness and dis-ease. But, this blight pales in comparison to an even bigger problem: Another two billion people struggle around the globe with depression and anxiety disorder. Of this, 220 million are children — something that they learned from their parents or caretakers. The cost to society, to our families and loved ones is beyond staggering. Clearly, the untreated “misery” business is crying out for help!
The recovery industry in the U.S. alone has exploded to $35 billion in size. There aren’t enough beds and addiction counselors in rehabs and detoxs to meet the escalating need. Another $1 – $2 Trillion more is sadly wasted each year on health care remedies that don’t work. God only knows what the figures and statistics are worldwide. As the world gets more complex, challenging and stressful, more people young and old alike — are falling victim to substance and behavior abuse, and untreated misery.
Addiction and suicide are now among the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. — and that doesn’t include the many others who never even make it into recovery. Addiction to opioids, and the resurgence of heroin use worldwide has reached epidemic proportions among young people. Each week, I see several people disappear and die from the many 12-step meetings that I attend. Others report about the loss of loved ones that never even made it into recovery. And, that doesn’t include the many people around us who love us that we take hostage in the process of our pain and misery. People can’t handle the underlying pain and futility in their lives, and prefer to numb or anesthetize themselves to avoid dealing with reality. The fear of change keeps the addicted deep in the throes of the bondage of self.
The real question is: Are you next??
While the process of recovery and life-transformation can be miraculous for some those first time winners, the majority of people experience relapse after relapse and die unwittingly, never knowing why. I know, as I nearly died twice myself until I finally surrendered to the truth of my life and accepted the fact that the many forms of addiction can maim and kill anybody if we don’t get recovery right. It is undoubtedly an ugly and fatal disease if not arrested completely.
There are many reasons why people fail to get and stay recovered, here are the Top 10 Reasons that most anyone who struggles with addiction will be happy to share with you:
Reason #1: Failure to Recognize the Sheer Power & Unmanageability of Addiction/Substance Abuse.
People often underestimate the power of their addiction. Most of us struggle from the addiction of more. They think they got it and can handle it.
It doesn’t matter what our substance or behavior of choice is, we can never get enough. Our addiction is progressive in nature and never goes away. If not completely, 100% arrested, it will kill you. Whether you drink, drug, gamble, use sex, have issues with sex, video games and texting, shopping, or the hundreds of other documented addictions, you will lose this wicked battle. It requires 100% abstinence and is non-negotiable. Period. You’re either all in or all out – there is no in-between!! Whatever your issues whether you like it or not, you must 100% cease and desist from continued use. Easier said than done. You are not an exception to this very absolute rule and none of your cunning and crafty manipulation of this undeniable fact will change that. It is a known fact that ANYTHING you put in front of your recovery you will surely lose. Maybe not the first time, but eventually you will lose everything, including yourself, as I once did.
A strong corollary to this is not yet having experienced enough pain. In other words, you haven’t reached your “Bottom.” You might think that your pain is great enough and your misery is overwhelming, but truthfully, you haven’t yet had enough, as is evidenced by your own continued struggle with relapse. People who are successful in recovery and remain clean and sober will all tell you that there was a point where they finally reached their bottom. Not all bottoms have to be so painful, but your own measure of pain just has to be great enough for you to cry wolf and put up the white flag of surrender. Once you reach this point, your desire and willingness to try something different will finally reach the tipping point and you will begin to see prodigious results.
What’s more, failing to identify and understand the true causes of your addictions and addictive nature. It’s called denial. The truth is many people don’t have all the life skills to live a good, fulfilling, purposeful, meaningful and happy life. We weren’t given the guide book early in our childhood. Subsequently, we all pay the price for our own trial and error.
Almost always, there is something else very powerful going on in your life that you may be unaware of or too afraid to look at. You may be struggling with depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and despair, lack of self-esteem and poor self-image, loneliness & isolation. You may be angry, resentful, full of rage and sorrow, guilt, remorse and self-pity. These are all mere symptoms of some deeper issues that have to do with your basic six human needs not being met. Those needs are for certainty, variety, significance, love & connection, growth and contribution. Many of us meet these unmet needs in dysfunctional inappropriate ways that cause harm to ourselves and others.
And, finally, there’s lack of acceptance: Many of us are restless, irritable and discontent. We’re never happy with what we’ve got or our particular lot in life. We always think that things should be different, better, bigger. We can’t accept the fact that things aren’t going our way, according to our will and view of our world. Our script for living our lives is off.
Reason #2: Lack of Honesty.
You haven’t yet gotten HONEST enough to rat on yourself and your dis-ease. We may believe that we are telling the truth, but the real truth is that we’re still lying to ourselves and to those who love and care for us. Honesty, Open-Mindedness and Willingness (“HOW”) are the essential trio of positive attitudes that constitute the foundation for solid and sustainable recovery. If any of these are absent – especially brutal honesty – you run a serious risk of relapse and continued insanity of your dis-ease. Getting honest with yourself about your situation is not always easy and it requires us to HUMBLE enough to surrender to the greater wisdom of those who know what they’re talking about! Humility is a key component to staying sober, and without it, you will continue to struggle and possibly fail in gaining the happy and fulfilling life that you both deserve and is your God-given right.
Not Owning Your Life & Cleaning Up Your Past Liabilities. Failure to deal with your character defects & let go the wreckage of your past will cause people to relapse back in to old attitudes, habits, beliefs and behaviors. We are all imperfect and have had our share of failures. It is these very failures and flaws that help us to succeed and ultimately build better character and lives. We must own the past, acknowledge it and work to replace our liabilities and defects with admirable and sustainable assets. This can take a lifetime, but cleaning house and keeping it clean is necessary for sustained recovery. This is a fact.
Reason #4: Failure to Make a Decision.
Getting clean and sober requires that you make a decision. It doesn’t just happen because you think you want or need it. It requires a full commitment to change everything in your life. You have to want it more than anything else. You must make what might be the most difficult and painful decision of your life. At some point in your road to addiction, you may have really liked your substance of choice – that is until it turned on you and became the enemy! So, first you must decide: What kind of life do you want for yourself and your loved ones? Do you want to live or die? Do you choose to attempt to correct your flaws and life or will you continue to accept mediocrity and repeated failure and defeat? What do you really want for your life and are you willing to do what it takes to get it?
Reason #5: Fear of Change.
Change is hard for most people who don’t think they need to change. Usually, it is easier to stay the same miserable and unhappy way than risk doing something different. There are a thousand forms of fear – mostly around losing something we already have or not getting something that we think we deserve. Some of us would rather keep doing the same old thing over and over (sometimes called insanity) at the expense of getting honest and happy. We’re never happy with what we’ve got, yet aren’t yet courageous enough to make the changes that will both heal and help us out of our dysfunction and misery.
Reason #6: Negative Self-Talk & Self-Sabotage.
When Norman Vincent Peale first wrote the bestselling book “The Power of Positive Change” 70 years ago, he never envisioned that so many people would be struggling with the punishment of negative thinking. We have this little committee up in our heads that tells us nothing is going right and that life is really not so good. When we struggle with that powerful little voice that is constantly lying to us about our lives and reality, we tend to let it rule our lives – often to ours and others’ detriment. It tells us we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, capable enough, worthy of love and affection, successful enough and capable of being comfortable in our own skin. Then, there are the little tricks we play on ourselves of self-sabotage. Just when things are going well, we unconsciously remind ourselves that we must fail or else we risk changing and being uncomfortable with what is clearly good for us. We then begin the process of self-destruction all over again and ruin what is already a good thing.
In this same category is a lack of gratitude. Without gratitude for all the many blessings you already have in your life, you are shortchanging yourself and your recovery. It’s not always easy to be grateful, which I can attest to first hand, but I can tell you it’s a practice you must develop if you expect to stay in recovery!
Reason #7: Pride, Ego & Grandiosity
These are all elements of our personality. Our egos are the life regulators of our reality between the conscious and unconscious. It is the very thing that is supposed to protect us from danger and defines us as human beings.
But, many of us have unhealthy and distorted sense of self. We think we are big deals and important in our own minds. We blow ourselves up as prideful balloons thinking that we are entitled to show everyone else who is boss, smarter, richer, better, stronger, more successful. Sound familiar? We all know people like this. They are full of themselves and even more gilded with self-deceit. We need to be right-sized and to experience repeated humiliation before we can ever get humble and realistic with whom we really are.
We are also too self-centered and selfish. Self-centeredness and selfishness are identifiable and deadly characteristics of addicts and alcoholics, and people who are unhappy in general.
Thinking We Can Do This Alone. It’s often called denial of our powerlessness and unmanageability over our problems. Self-reliance and thinking that you’ve got this down and can handle this yourself like everything else in life is just a lie. Your addiction and dis-ease is far strong than you, and if you don’t ask for and accept the help you need – whether it be from a detox or rehab or from some type of recovery program or reputable counsel, you’re screwed. We must accept the help of others who have already been down the road we are struggling with. They are more than happy to guide and teach us the ropes. But, we must let them in first and recognize our powerlessness.
Then, there’s thinking that we can run our own program. We forget that birds of a feather stick together, and also get in trouble and act out in negative ways. The people we surround ourselves with, the place we hang out and the things we do have a lot to do with our succeeding in recovery. Running your own program your way, rather than the right way will keep you in the red and maybe dead.
Reason #9: Not Using the Recovery Tool Kit.
Many people who relapse and struggle in their recovery share an unwillingness to use the tools that will save our lives. There are several excellent recovery programs, most of the really successful ones include the 12-steps as part of the package. But, each contains a basic tool kit of techniques and strategies that represent the collective wisdom and success of the people who came before you and have already succeeded in their own lives. You can’t just pick and choose these tools. You must fully embrace and use them at all times. We must walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Often, the smarter you are, the more trouble you will have with getting and staying recovered. I was one of those people and fell victim to my own terminal uniqueness.
Reason #10: Failure to Connect With a Higher Power
In my humble opinion, perhaps the biggest reason for failure in recovery is our inability to get a God in our lives. Human willpower is no contender in this potentially fatal battle. If we don’t actively and willingly work to bring some power greater than ourselves into our lives, we are screwed. Some people are agnostic or atheist and do manage to remain clean and sober. But, if you really expect to recover and change your life for the better, you must feed your spiritual life and recognize that you are not in charge of anything. Connection and surrender to a Higher Power (whatever you choose to call it doesn’t matter) is the ticket to empowerment and success in recovery. Yes, in early recovery, the people in the rooms or various programs and sponsors or mentors may help you to get sober, ultimately recovery is an inside job and a journey that you have to do alone – even though ironically you are never alone. You must accept your ultimate partner in life is someone you can’t see and touch, but is some entity that is the source and creator of all things. And, that is simply not you. But, once you acknowledge this power into your life and get to know him, you will discover an indescribable power that will be by your side in good times and bad and will never leave your side in times of need.
Developing a true and genuine faith and trust in something greater than yourself (and I’m not talking about drugs and alcohol which were your idols in the past), is the ticket to continued success in recovery and a good life.
What Is The Solution?
So, what must you do to save your life? First, you must decide and choose to live in the solution. This is a very powerful admittance that perhaps your way isn’t going to work long-term. You have to surrender to the wisdom of those that came before you. You must allow yourself to become empowered with the tools that are readily available to you. You must surround yourself with good people that will willingly help you help yourself. You must walk the walk and not just talk the talk. You must do the work – all of it. You must admit your powerless and unmanageability over your addiction absolutely. You must get right with yourself, own your faults and defects and be willing to change everything you thought was right and so important. Then, you must, without exception, bring a higher power and purpose into your life to stay recovered, growing and happy. And, lastly, you must give it all away to others who struggle like you. Self-centeredness and selfishness will get you nowhere. You must share all those many wonderful things you will learn along your own road to happy destiny and a better life.
What Are The Benefits? The Promises?
And what is the added bonus to succeeding in your recovery? You get back the freedom to choose. You get free from the wreckage and repeated pain and discomfort of your past. You get to live a really good and happy life. You get to experience a full and meaningful life. You get to share your life with those you love (present and future).
You no longer have to regret the past or shut the door on it. You will recognize the gift of your pain, trials and tribulations in your meteoric growth and level of happiness and success going forward.
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