Tag Archives: Addiction

You are NOT powerless!

ShelbyOne of the most-read items on this website is an essay by long-time LifeRing supporter Dr. Candice Shelby, an Associate Professor of Philosopy at the University of Colorado. I thought it might be worthwhile to draw your attention to it again. It encapsulates an important part of what LifeRing stands for. See it Here.


You Are Not Your Habits!! New Book Shows How to Break Free of Them

I recently read a book called The Power of Habit:  Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” by Charles Duhigg.  I think that many folks in early recovery, or in contemplation of recovery, will find this book enormously useful.  It uses a number of real-life vignettes to illustrate the power of habit, how habits form, and how they can be changed.  One of the most intriguing concepts in the book is that of “keystone habits,” seemingly trivial habits that – if altered somehow – create a cascade effect that renders other, more pervasive and intractable habits, amenable to change.  Another crucial concept is that actually believing that you have within your power the ability to change your habits is an absolute prerequisite to changing them.

I think that this selection from the last chapter of the book does a fine job summarizing his thesis, and I have copied it for you below:
   “Habits are not as simple as they appear.  As I’ve tried to demonstrate throughout this book, habits – even once they are rooted in our minds – aren’t destiny.  We can choose our habits, once we know how.  Everything we know about habits, from neurologists studying amnesiacs and organizational experts remaking companies, is that any of them can be changed, if you understand how they function.
   “Hundreds of habits influence our days – they guide how we get dressed in the morning, talk to our kids, and fall asleep at night; they impact what we eat for lunch, how we do business, and whether we exercise or have a beer after work.  Each of them has a different cue and offers a unique reward.  Some are simple and others are complex, drawing upon emotional triggers and offering subtle neurochemical prizes.  But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable.  The most addicted alcoholics can become sober.  The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves.  A high school dropout can become a successful manager.
    “However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it.  You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives.  You must know that you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it – and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real.
    “[A]lmost all the . . . patterns that exist in most people’s lives – how we eat and sleep and talk to our kids, how we unthinkingly spend our time, attention, and money – those are habits we know exist.  And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom – and the responsibility – to remake them.  Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”
Joseph A. Mott, M.D., J.D.

Isolation’s role in addiction, graphically illustrated

This graphic comic by Stuart McMillan illustrates how early studies on lab rats and addiction went long by not looking at isolation and social settings.

McMillan talks here about what went into the creation of this comic:

The Rat Park researchers were originally united in their view that the 1950s/60s experiments had design flaws which undermined their usefulness as ‘proof’ for addictive drugs. However, the team was divided with predictions about what would happen to the colony rats if given free access to opiates. …

Also worth reading is Bruce Alexander’s Adult, Infant, and Animal Addiction (1985). Written after some of the dust had settled (including the Rat Park funding running out), the article describes the other experiments which were conducted in Rat Park, and by other similar animal drug experiments around the world. It mentions times where the results of the original, famous experiments were not repeated. …

It is clear that scientific accuracy is important to Bruce, and that he is not simply promoting Rat Park for personal glory. He recognises that the Rat Park experiments do not necessarily ‘prove’ anything regarding human drug addictions. After all, rats are rats, and people are people. Yet he sees the findings of Rat Park as consistent with his larger body of research into human addictions.

Anyway, read away, and view away.

A Round or Two with Mike Tyson

More than a few recovering alcoholics/addicts, myself included, have compared their time in active addiction to getting into the ring with “Iron” Mike Tyson, and for good reason. The former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world (1987 – 1990) was widely known during his heyday for crushing his opponents, sometimes in as little as a few rounds, and then for finding … interesting ways to take them out even in his decline.

Coupled with some of his behavior outside the ring that signified him as a bad, bad dude who would put the hurt on you one way or the other, the comparison was apt: Whatever any of us wanted to believe going in – “Well, maybe just one more round, for old time’s sake.” Or, “One or two rounds never hurt anyone.” Or, one of my personal favorites, “If I could just MAKE myself quit after the third round, I’d be alright,” or any of the other 1,001 things we told ourselves – chances were still better than great that we would wind up getting our asses kicked again and again and again, with little to no variation on the theme.

Finally, our last best hope to become the champions of our own lives was to not just get out of the ring and leave Iron Mike alone, but to STAY out. For good.   (READ MORE…..)

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