‘Tis the season…to swear that next year will be different.
Everywhere you look, people are reflecting on last year and resolving to break old habits this year. But for all the stocktaking and intention-setting that takes place in January, most people will have fallen far short of their goals by February.
When working with individuals experiencing substance use issues, you will often encounter those who struggle with urges and cravings. Despite a desire to change and taking the initial steps to do so, the person experiences physical, emotional, and cognitive compulsions to use substances, or to use at a level that is not conducive to living a healthy and meaningful life. Urges and cravings are typically experienced as distressing or signs of weakness. Once a person begins to struggle with urges and cravings, those cravings tend to increase in frequency and intensity, which can eventually lead to a lapse back into the substance use cycle.
There are certainly many paths to recovery. But you’ll only take one. What’s the best choice for you? We don’t know. And you can never really know. You only get to live life once. However you live it, you won’t know how it would have gone had you lived it differently. Time runs in one direction. Scientific studies often tell us what happened on average to the people who got this or that treatment. We’ll cite some statistics in The Wisdom to Know the Difference. But at the end of the day you won’t have something happen to you on average.