An addiction is a product of the interaction of three things:
Now I hadn’t changed and the drug hadn’t changed but our circumstances were.
I now knew the harmful effects of drinking and alcohol addiction as I had nursed patients to their death because of it. I could no longer stick my head in the sand and ignore the facts but I continued to drink. We tried sporadic attempts at stopping – giving up for 18 days almost 10 years ago and struggled to manage the urges to drink and to stay stopped using willpower alone. What we noticed when we cut down is that the cravings seemed to get worse, that we became obsessed with when we would drink again, and when we did start again we felt even more dependent. We had gone from happy drinkers to unhappy drinkers.
There is a famous cycle of change model by Prochaska and DiClemente (1983)
What we had done was we had ventured on to the cycle of change and had moved from happy drinker (pre-contemplative) to unhappy drinker (contemplation and action) and then relapsed. What we had done is not unusual and we were to go on to do this many many times over the next many years. We hadn’t done enough preparation to prepare for the change either externally or internally and therefore were unable to maintain the change.
If you are reading this and are thinking about this change in the next few posts I’ll share a few of the tools that helped me move through the cycle of change more successfully.