I know recovery from addiction is far more difficult with a much higher price tag than a diet. But there are similarities from my point of view.
Think about it. You go on a diet and you cut things out that you identify as the culprits to being overweight.
You might deny yourself chocolate, for example.
But at some point, your resolve starts to wear away and you crave chocolate. It’s ALL you can think about. You dream chocolate.
After several weeks of denying yourself this treat, you have a little
A week later, you lose it, break down and binge on chocolate.
The next day you wake up and feel guilty.
You were doing so well, then all of a sudden you had to have that chocolate! What happened? You promise you’re going to “be good.” But that break sends you back into that previous pattern of eating poorly.
Many times I’ve heard people say, “That was a great diet. Such a bummer I could stay on it.” Well that’s not a good diet if you couldn’t maintain those eating habits and you regained the weight. It was actually worthless.
Losing weight is about changing your lifestyle, not going on a diet
Addiction is, too, except that you have to do a complete life overhaul.
With your weight loss strategy, you actually have to make a commitment to exercise, eat smaller portions, stop buying certain items, avoid eating fast food.
Then you need to break multiple bad habits like eating junk food in front of TV, binging on ice cream at 11pm, indulging in too much alcohol that lowers your inhibition for eating and using food to bolster a sorry mood. It’s hard to change the psychology of why you eat the way you do and takes time to change all these habits and get used to a new lifestyle. It doesn’t happen all at once.
There is often back and forth of success and failure to get to the place where you feel like you have accepted and finally made the transition to a new lifestyle. And even then, you have to stay on top of it so you don’t slip back into those old habits. You might slip up over the holidays for example and then reel yourself in come the new year.
A relapse with addiction is far more devastating than not being able to fit in a favorite pair of jeans. When you fail at a diet, the consequences feel bad and might look bad. A relapse in recovery from addiction can mean death, jail time and other life changing disasters.
But there are many similarities not the least of which is making major league lifestyle changes.
Drug addiction, too, is often a back and forth process because changing multiple habits, changing friends and even moving out of state is very difficult. Basically, an addict often has to change every aspect of their lives to succeed. Starting over can be particularly tough with no money, lots of shame and little support.
So why do we expect that addicts do this perfectly the first time?
Well, we want it so badly for one. We hate seeing our loved ones self destruct and we want them to live. We want them to succeed. Funny thing is, they do, too. And that’s what we don’t often realize–they want out of the cruel cycle but giving up the drug is sort of like you giving up chocolate. Only far more difficult. It takes a while for your brain to quit saying it wants it.
What an addict needs is for you to hold your boundary. What they really need is your love when they are using, your support in recovery, your dedication to learning more about the illness.
The person that is using is not your loved one. He or she is underneath the illness. However, there are glimpses of that person you love. And you can see that if you look for it.