Self-manage your ‘addiction’ with the Life Process Program

The disease model of addiction does more harm than good because it does not give people enough credit for their resilience and capacity to change. It underestimates people’s ability to figure out what is good for them and to adapt to challenging environments. At the same time, it disempowers people, because it fails to hold them accountable for acting irresponsibly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or for excessive behaviours ranging from shopping to gambling. The disease theory of addiction can even serve to perpetuate addiction and to excuse repeated relapses. Our approach, in contrast, respects every person’s capacity to make positive choices, even in the case of the most compulsive behaviors. Instead of undermining your integrity, we give you credit for being a responsible adult capable of self-management. The Life Process Program takes us far from the frightening assumption that a compulsive behavior is a disease that you will have to live with forever.

It brings us into the practical human realm of individual self-assessment, planning, and action. As you will see, the myths of addiction and the realities with which we contrast them offer radically different ways of freeing yourself from addictions ranging from overeating and smoking to alcohol and drugs. They also have different implications for how you deal with heavy drinking or drug use in a spouse or lover, a child, a friend, or an employee. The Life Process Program and the disease model also give you different messages about what it means if you come from a family with a history of some addictive problem, like alcoholism.

Finally, the two different approaches point in different directions concerning the social problems and public-policy issues that we confront, such as drunk driving, drug testing, and widespread drug abuse and drug-related violence in the ghetto. Popular attitudes about addiction, instead of locking people into their addictive dependencies, can instead encourage individual and community strength and autonomy. For although this book is mainly about overcoming addiction as individuals, the crux of the struggle against addiction lies in the social and cultural environments we create. The widespread failure to realize this holds more danger for our civilization than does crack or alcohol or any international drug cartel.

The key to giving up addiction is to mobilize the necessary motivation, values, skills, and environmental supports. In most cases, you already have these things. Our emphasis, therefore, is on kindling your desire to stop harming yourself and others and your belief that you can do so. We never tell you that you are powerless. When you feel strongly enough the urge to change your life in a healthful direction, you can often develop the means for stopping unhealthy addictions quite naturally.

Thus, instead of a single, prepackaged program for recovery, we provide the highlights of successful self-cures and successful therapy for you to use as signposts for change. You must then see how they fit into the rhythms of your own life. The Life Process Program, while it makes the experiences of others accessible to you, remains something you create for yourself out of your own experience and personal values.

Our approach has no gimmicks. It is grounded in the reality of the numerous studies we cite and the many personal accounts we relate. Whatever solution proves right for you, it is unlikely that you will succeed by working on the addiction in isolation from the rest of your life. Indeed, as the Life Process Program shows you, you cannot escape addiction without dealing with your entire world, including your family, your community, and society as a whole.

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