Stage Two: Lifestyle Change
The behavior of the addict is the most visible part of [intlink id=”254″ type=”page”]addiction[/intlink]. The behavior generally occurs after the addictive personality develops. These behaviors are signs that the person is out of control internally. In Stage One an individual may experience some of the out of control behaviors but in Stage Two they happen more frequently. It is in this stage that other people become concerned.
The addictive belief system develops into a lifestyle. Betrayal of Self and others becomes a regular habit.
- Lying when it’s easier to tell the truth.
- Blaming others, knowing it’s not their fault
- Starts to withdraw from others
Each time the person acts out in these ways they are depending more on the addictive process. In order to make sense of this the addict develops denial, repression, lies, rationalizations, and other defenses to help cope with what is happening. The person has the belief that they should be able to control the addiction. Each time the person acts out, the Self feels more shameful. The Self begins to try to control the Addict and sets limits and makes promises only to be broken. The Self, most of the time, disapproves of the Addict’s behaviors and the way they treat other’s, but has lost control and is unable to stop the process. At this time the Self surrenders to the Addict.
At this stage the addict begins to have “People Problems”
- Addicts begin manipulating other people.
- Often self-righteous and self-centered.
- Other people’s concern is seen as a problem.
- People are unimportant and discarded unless they can deepen the addiction.
- Start to mistrust others.
- Start blaming others.
- Feel like victims.
- Anger and stress addict’s feel is projected to others.
Attacks, lying, withdrawal, and denial become acting-out behaviors and internal pain is created. This cycle justifies the next binge. Friends and family label the addict as irresponsible, crazy, troubled, strange, and weak. This is a sign that the illness has progressed and others can see it and need to protect themselves from the addictive personality. They will either leave or try to control the addict.The addict begins feeling more confident in the ability to manipulate others but the Self feels more shameful, lost, empty, and isolated. The addict begins to feel the effects of being cutoff emotionally and spiritually from others and from themselves: pain, anger, despair, and incomprehensible demoralization develop. Activities and people who were important in the past are now less important. The addict is drained of their energy from the constant battle between the two personalities and it becomes easier to shut everyone out and give in to the demands of the Addict.
- Being connected in a meaningful way to the world.
- Ability to extract meaning from one’s experiences.
- Feeling of belonging and being part of the world.
All of the above diminish in the addictive process. Addiction is a spiritual disease. Sunsets, smiles, laughter, support from others, and other things that nourish the spirit come to mean less as acting out becomes more important. For recovery to begin there must be a commitment to the nurturing of one’s spirit.