Stage One: Internal Change
The addicts’ personality is permanently altered. The basic illusion [intlink id=”254″ type=”page”]of addiction[/intlink] is based on finding relief through objects. The journey begins when the addict experiences the first high/mood change. In the mood change there is the illusion of control, comfort, and perfection.
- Compulsive gamblers = first win
- Compulsive spenders = purchase
- Alcoholics = intoxicated for the first time, feel different
- Anorexics = sense of control brought about by not eating
Having these experiences brings the knowledge that through a relationship with an object, event, or substance, one’s feelings can change. The norm is for individuals to turn to natural relationships for support, nurturing, guidance, love, and emotional and spiritual growth.
EX) Family and friends, Spiritual Higher Power, Self, Community
When people don’t develop these types of relationships, addiction comes in. In natural relationships there is a connecting with others, a give and take. In addiction there is only the act of taking.
The addictive cycle begins when a person repeatedly seeks the illusion of relief to avoid unpleasant feelings or situations.
- pain, boredom, frustration, anger, worry, confrontation etc…
- feel the need to act out
- act out, start to feel better
- pain resulting from acting out
This cycle causes an emotional craving that results in mental preoccupation. Feeling of discomfort becomes a signal to act out instead of reaching out to others or connecting with oneself. Alcohol and other drugs also exhibit a physical dependency. Addicts who stop acting out report feeling edgy and nervous, these symptoms can last from a few days to a few months.
The most important aspect of Stage One is the creation of this addictive personality: Self and Addict. Addict side of personality will stay with the recovering person for life. The addict will always be searching for an object or event with which to form an addictive relationship. The recovering addict needs to learn how to monitor the addictive part of themselves. They need to acknowledge and break the addictive relationship within oneself, not just the object (Cunning, Baffling, and Powerful). This is where total recovery takes place.
How the Addict Develops
Foundation of the addict is found in all people. It is the normal desire to get through life with the least amount of pain and greatest amount of pleasure. It is natural to have these beliefs, but when these beliefs begin to control one’s life is when the problems begin. Some people are more prone to addiction than others: people who were never taught how to have a healthy relationship and taught not to trust. Addiction begins when the person abandons the natural ways of getting emotional needs met (natural relationships). When the person abandons’s oneself and their values for the addictive high this causes “The Addict” to grow and gain power. As time goes on and the person continues in the cycle of acting out, being mentally preoccupied, and isolating from others, The Addict starts to gain more control over the person’s internal life. The person begins to feel an internal pull (conscience/self).
Addiction now begins to form shame as a byproduct. The more relief is sought through objects or events the more shame is produced (unconscious level). Shame creates loss of: self-respect, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-discipline, self-determination, self-control, self-importance, and self-love. Addict begins to feel shame about the loss of control that is starting to appear within. Addiction begins to start creating pain which is the exact thing the addict is trying to avoid. The addict seeks happiness and serenity in the high. Because the addict has moved deeper into isolation they can not see that the pain is being caused by the acting out.
Self and Addict fight for control:
- Addict develops its own way of feeling.
- The Self disapproves of the Addict’s beliefs, but enjoys the mood change.
- Addict develops its own way of thinking.
- Self fights with the Addict but generally loses.
- Addict develops its own way of behaving.
- Self makes promises to control the Addict and uses willpower but eventually becomes dependent on the Addict.
All the addict cares about is itself and the trance. It does not care about the Self and others. It is important to remember that in Stage One the addictive personality is more of a friend than an enemy. This is the basis for euphoric recall– remembering the good times and denying/forgetting the pain.
Slowly the addict begins to develop an Illusion System which serves two purposes:
- It keeps the Addict locked inside oneself with only the Addict to relate to (When is this going to stop? It is not that bad.).
- Keeps away people who would endanger the addictive relationship.
When Recovery Takes Place
First step is the acceptance of the dual personalities created by the disease off addiction. Programs of recovery emphasize being totally honest with one’s Self, listening to and believing in one’s Self, not one’s Addict. (the two voices)