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This brief YouTube video clip overviews key points in this article:
This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 1 in
this Web site - free your
to guide you in calm and conflictual times, and
significant psychological wounds. Thisarticle is for people who feel they may be
(or are) addicted to something,
and want to know their options.
Companion articles suggest options if you feel
your mate, a
relative, or a
child you care about may
the [wounds + ignorance]
cycle that may be stressing your family
Are You Addicted?
If you're not sure...
and see if they fit. If you're ruled by protective
false selves, realize
that your evaluation may be skewed.
Search the Web for
"addiction assessment" resources
criteria for selecting qualified professional help
to assess for the symptoms of one or more of the four
types of addiction. The Web sites for the major
"Anonymous" addiction-recovery organizations like
CoDA are good starting points.
Hire a qualified addictions therapist to
help you make an honest assessment. Do not expect veteran therapists to
know about false-self
wounds yet. Option - refer them to this
these articles and ask their reaction.
If you conclude
you are actively "addicted"
(wounded), decide if you believe that addiction recovery
("sobriety") must precede
psychological wounds. If you don't,
expect to live with the constant possibility of
Status check- on a scale of one (I'm sure I am not addicted to anyone
or anything) to ten (I'm sure I am addicted now), what do you
Where would the people who know you best rank you on this scale
now? ___ If you feel you're not truly addicted, why
are you reading this? Note that there is no such thing as being "a
little addicted," any more than you can have "a little leukemia."
Premise - if you have several requisites,
you can manage (vs. cure) your addiction successfully - i.e.
can find a healthier way to reduce your
inner pain.This article outlines these requisites and how to use them.
Premise - all addictions are
unconscious attempts to reduce significant
"inner pain" - i.e. [shame
+ guilts + hurt + anger + confusion + fears + sadness + despair). Typical addicts (like you?) realize that their
behavior hurts themselves and other people, but they don't know the
cause of their inner pain, or a healthier way to manage and reduce it.
After 36 years' research and clinical and personal experience,
you may have learned to numb and
repress your psychological pain since childhood, and will probably feel
"I have no major inner pain!" If so, this is normal
false-self reality distortion.
your inner pain has been caused by the
of the [wounds + ignorance]
cycle on your
child-hood caregivers and you; and...
the "healthier way" to manage your pain and
permanently end your addictive behaviors has four phases:
hit false bottoms, attempt "trial
recoveries," and relapse one or more times;
- often in mid-life. You cannot force this to happen. Then...
learn about your
ignorance, break your protective denials, and commit to some form of
hi-priority 12-step recovery for at least
a year; and as you do...
commit to using the ideas in Lesson 1
here to free
and intentionally reduce
your psychological wounds and pain, over time.
The rest of this article outlines these phases, and links
you to more detail on each of them.
Hit True Bottom
Premise - a true addiction
(toxic compulsion) cannot be controlled by "will power" or "logic"
because it is caused by well-meaning Guardian
personality subselves who rigidly focus on achieving short-term relief from
inner pain at the expense of long-term unhappiness. To permanently stop addictive thoughts and behaviors, a
wounded person must accumulate enough pain and despair to "override" these
subselves - i.e. to "hit
bottom" or "hit the wall."
Some people are able to do this - often in
mid-life. For various reasons, other addicts (a) hit one or more "trial
bottoms" and relapse before hitting true bottom, or (b) they never hit true bottom, and endure increasingly unhappy,
unhealthy lives until they die prematurely.
Three key factors determine which
course a person follows: (a) the composition of their
personality, (b) the degree of psychological wounds
that they've acquired (moderate to extreme), and (c) the
nurturance level of their current family and social environment (very low to very high).
Implication: whether you've hit true bottom yet or not - if you
want to end an unhealthy compulsion, honestly assess (a) yourself for
and (b) the nurturance level of your family and
workplace or other environments. The knowledge
you gain from these evaluations yields practical options toward reducing
your inner pain and choosing a more nurturing environment.
in this nonprofit Web site offers concrete options and many resources to
help you assess these two factors effectively and improve them.
For more perspective on hitting trial and true bottoms, read
when you finish this.
Are you controlled by a protective
false self "too often"?
Have you hit true bottom yet? Note - if
your true Self is disabled, a
false self will probably
distort your answer.
Where does maintaining your wholistic health
rank in your major life priorities
recently - as judged by your actions, not your words? Would other
people who know you well agree with your answer?
Hitting true bottom makes
it possible to want to replace each of these beliefs with their opposites without
ambivalence, and without doing it to please other people.
Some recoverers use 12-step meetings and programs to help dissolve their
denials. Other people hit bottom and dissolve the denials first, and then
evolve a meaningful 12-step program. A minority of true addicts are able to
hit bottom and maintain sobriety without a 12-step
Similarly, some people start harmonizing their subselves before starting
preliminary (addiction) recovery, and others need to be in preliminary recovery for at least a year
before being able to admit and start reducing their psychological wounds. Each
person discovers their own path.
I have to adopt the 12-step ideas?
answer that, keep your perspective: people commonly associate the
12 steps with alcoholic recovery. In the last generation,
12-step "Anonymous" addiction-recovery groups like
have spread internationally, to help manage all
of addictions.That suggests the universal effectiveness of the 12 steps
clinical research and experience suggests -
"Yes, you do need to
adopt these proven principles on your own or by attending 12-step
meetings and choosing a veteran sponsor as a guide and mentor. Almost 80
years of world-wide experience since AA was founded suggests that your odds of long-term health
and recovery rise sharply if you choose to "work the steps."
accept this is usually a sign of a distrustful false self.
basic reasons for adopting a 12-step program are...
the steps and principles help to break the
seven crippling denials above;
learning from veteran recoverers; and...
meeting regularly with fellow recoverers and
reaffirming the steps can significantly help to "stay on
(recovery) course" despite distractions and inner urges to relapse.
recovering addicts (Grown Wounded Children, or GWCs) are unaware of
their psychological wounds, so they need to "keep coming
back" to 12-step meetings to avoid relapsing. If you choose to admit
and reduce your
wounds, you'll probably find your need to attend meetings changes from
essential to optional - socializing and helping
others to recover (step 12).
your reaction to this idea start with "Yes, but..."? If so, suspect that
a protective subself...
fears relying on some unknown
principles and other people, and...
fiercely resists making changes that
might threaten you, and/or cause the subself to lose control and power.
that a classic false-self
fear is of the unknown (e.g. of change).
have many choices about if and when to adopt the 12-step philosophy and a
related recovery program. Start by
learning what the steps are, and what people who use them sound like.
To avoid personal and social confusion, note the distinction between the 12
steps andthe 12 "Anonymous" principles and 12
A useful way to learn is to locate 12-step meetings in your area and attend
an "open" meeting. These are for anyone interested in learning more about
12-step programs and philosophy. "Closed" meetings are for people in active
recovery. They exist to protect the identity of the participants, which is
based on the old misperception that addiction is a shameful lack of "will
Option - interview anyone you know who is open about
working to control an addiction. Typical women and men in true recovery are
usually willing to discuss what they're recovering from, how they're
recovering, and what the effects of recovery on them and their family have
been so far.
How Can I
choose an Effective
Mostpeople committed to a 12-step program eventually choose a
sponsor to guide, encourage, and empathically confront them on
denials. Choosing such a mentor is as
important as picking a qualified doctor, lawyer, and therapist. How can you
evaluate potential sponsors and make a wise choice? I suggest that
candidates should have most or all of these traits:
be at least 35 or older (for maturity and
be a biological parent (if you are);
be married and/or divorced, if you are or
have personal stepfamily experience and
if you're in a stepfamily or may be;
have relapsed at least once in the past (not
recently), and be willing to talk openly about that;
have been working an effective 12-step
recovery program for at least 10 years;
have no signs
of codependence or other cross-addiction;
have a firm belief in, and an active
relationship with, a benign (vs. punitive)
be open to learning about the [wounds +
and evaluating its effects in his or her life and yours;
be willing to acknowledge the relationship
(addiction) recovery, and full
be skilled at patiently guiding you in
understanding and following the 12 steps;
supportive, and trustworthy; And an ideal sponsor will...
be willing to confront youdirectly
and respectfully on your false-self's protective denials,
delusions, distortions, and evasions as you recover.
Option - with an open mind, reality-check these
veteran 12-step recoverers who have experienced two or more sponsors in
their own journey. Add their advice to these criteria.
+ + +
If you're able to hit true bottom, break your denials, and commit to preliminary
12-step recovery, the next keystone requisite for solid sobriety is to...
Accept and Reduce Your psychological wounds
Recall the basic premise here that all toxic compulsions ("addictions") are
attempts by personality subselves to mute or distract from relentless inner
pain. Do you fully accept that this idea applies to you now? If so,
you're probably ready to act on what you're about to read. If not, you
probably haven't hit true bottom yet.
Are you motivated now (vs. "willing") to invest time
assessing whether you have
inherite2d significant psychological wounds? Any answer other than "yes"
suggests that a protective false self controls you and you haven't
hit true bottom yet.
Perspective - since none of us had perfect
childhoods, we all have some degree of woundedness, so the real question is "How
wounded am I?", not "Am I wounded?"
If you conclude that you have "significant" wounds, then use the ideas and resources in
Lesson 1 and its
to evolve a personal wound-recovery plan that fits you. For perspective,
review this article. It includes a summary of typical wound-recovery benefits.
As a professional therapist in wound-recovery since
1986, I now believe that the most effective way to reduce false-self
dominance is some form of
or "inner-family therapy." Lay and clinical people who don't
agree with this usually have no knowledge of personality subselves and
wounds, and/or no direct experience with parts work.
3 of Lesson 1 here is
a summary of "parts work."
It is included the related
Part 3 includes a specific
strategy for using parts work to
overcome non-organic toxic compulsions like addictions (including
There are many other
resources available now
to help you reduce your wounds over time - books, programs, Web
sites, support groups, and clinicians.
Should I Tell Other People
About my Recovery?
Yes! An essential recovery resource is having several
minimally-wounded, supporters who...
The ideal supporters are your mate (if
any) and other family adults - unless they are
Grown Wounded Children in protective
Use this to decide if they are.
Reluctance to fully disclose your recovery
goals, efforts, and progress (or problems) usually indicates that...
some subselves distrust your Self to
provide enough safety, and/or...
some wounded supporters might stress, rather than support,
Recall that an essential part of true recovery is to assess the
nurturance levels of your home, family, and
social environments, and then to work patiently to improve
those levels where needed.
This article builds on these
personality subself +
inner-wound fundamentals. It outlines
preliminary recovery options if you feel you have one or more addictions.
Full recovery is reducing your [psychological wounds + unawareness]. The article proposes three requisites for successful
preliminary recovery, and suggests that managing active addictions is the
essential gateway to full (inner-wound) recovery.
article proposes reasons why adopting a personal 12-step program is essential, and
suggests traits of an effective 12-step sponsor. It also offers perspective
on addiction and wound recovery if you're in a divorcing family or a
As you work at "addiction
management" and wound-recovery a day at a time,
intentionally pass on what you're learning to any dependent kids
and key adults. The
best gift you can give your descendents is alerting them to, and working patiently
to break, the lethal [wounds + ignorance]
If you don't - who will?
For more perspective, read these research summaries: