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 Post subject: Addiction and choice
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:42 am 
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Partner's Coach (Admin)

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:07 pm
Posts: 5200
The following quote was taken from another topic, but I soon realized that I got off topic in my response here, which is less about sorting out values, and more about understanding addiction. Original topic is "Compassion and condemnation", and can be found here: http://www.recoverynation.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=24616&p=239171#p239171

Quote:
And that's where my compassion for my partner turns into condemnation. Because as much as I feel for whatever early childhood experiences impacted him, he, just like my friends, had/has a choice as to how he will allow those experiences to color his life.


Yes, and no. As a child, when the early behaviours (that would have developed and become ingrained as “addiction”) first started, he was far less capable of discerning, forecasting, and selecting the best course of action, and most certainly it was not on his radar to select the best course of action based on a vision for his overall life. His “choice” would have been more “stimulus-response”. So, whatever it was introduced at the time he was traumatized/violated as a child that gave him pleasure and “took him away” from the trauma, is all that mattered at the time. Feel good=do it again. Purely immediate gratification. By the time he realized he had choice (which he may or may not actually realize, fundamentally, even if he understands it, intellectually) the addiction (which is what I will use to describe the entirety of the complex assortment of cumulative behaviours and stimulus-response patterns, and their related emotions and impacts) was likely so ingrained that he no longer saw/sees the addiction as separate from himself.

It has been previously described that separating themselves form their addiction is perceived akin to severing a limb. More realistically, it is probably more like breathing, or walking— learned processes that have become automatic, but that we can nonetheless control when we are mindful and intentional in doing so. That said, this is somewhat simplistic because breathing and walking do not likely involve the emotional and reward centres of our brain. The only time we really care about our walking is if we trip, for example. If we repeatedly trip whenever we wear a particular pair of shoes, we will be more alert whenever we wear those shoes, especially if we like them enough to keep wearing them; we will delegate cognitive resources to protect us from the potential physical or emotional pain of tripping (scraped knee, embarrassment). So, while we know they have choice—and they do (just as we all do)—they do not feel as though they have choice. This is not to excuse anything that they do under the influence of addiction.

The simple answer to distinguish between who develops a destructive addiction and who rises above and thrives in spite of their past trauma is the “feel good” behaviour that is adopted and gets reinforced throughout the life course. The complex answer starts with people’s biological systems (physiological response, emotional response, for example) and encompasses the events that took place, the influential people in their lives, the options available to them, their subjective response and attributions about those events and people including the values they had, consciously or unconsciously, and the randomly selected options they pursued (likely not conscious, and probably based solely on immediate pleasure or relief experienced). No two people will develop in the same way, because no two people will have the exact same experience. Even if they did, no two people will have the same subjective experience of that experience. And even if they did, the probability that two people with the exact same objective and subjective experiences would have the exact same responses to their shared experience is, well, very low. Each person is a case. It is by observing multiple cases in their entirety and teasing apart those factors that lead to positive outcomes and those that lead to negative outcomes that we can make assertions about "who will likely overcome an addiction" and "who will likely continue to struggle with addiction".

I read a great book called "Addiction: a disorder of choice" https://www.amazon.ca/Addiction-Disorde ... +of+choice

It went through an historical account of addiction, and looked at cases where people were able to give up addiction when faced with a choice (e.g. women in face of losing her child, or someone in face of jail time). The take home is that we always have choice in the matter, and who overcomes addiction is strongly influenced by the person's own motivation and the payoff-cost. As Jon, I think, also said: "a person will choose to overcome their addiction when the pain of having the addiction is greater than the pain of not having it" (paraphrased). I fully believe this is true but the problem is Subjectivity (of Value and Pain which are in the eye of the beholder, so to speak).

Now, just because we can now understand that addiction is not a simple thing that can be labelled as good or bad, right or wrong, that a person should clearly want to transcend addiction and therefor should actively seek to do so, does not mean that we should tolerate addiction in our lives. Just as the experience of addiction is subjective to the person with addiction, the experience of another's addiction is also subjective to the experiencer and the only thing that we should ever act upon is how the addiction impacts our values, taking into consideration the totality of our vision, not just one part (or domain) of it. This is why we recommend that people do not make important life choices/changes until they have completed the better part of the workshop. It is once you have done the work of identifying and understanding your values and how they work together to support (or impair) you in living into your vision (of your design) that you will be in position of making a clear and true choice rather than an emotion based decision.

Be well.

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction and choice
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:35 pm
Posts: 57
Thank you Coach Mel. This was helpful for me as I move closer to leaving than ever before (he won't even acknowledge it's a big deal at this point, let alone go for counselling). This reminded me to stay the course and not make any final decisions until I'm much further along. Even though right now I just want to pack my bags and leave...forever...


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