Bill Cottringer

“In the course of history many more people have died for their drink and their dope than have died for their religion or their country.” ~Aldous Huxley.

A drop dead handsome, smart young man gets a good education and marries a beautiful, wealthy wife, goes to Hollywood and starts partying with the in-crowd and then starts an irreversible, painfully slow downhill slide to his casket with drugs and alcohol greasing the way. He talks about getting sober but thousands of dollars of rehab and medical bills go unpaid, along with the lack of results.

An older man has thrown his whole life away in the bottle—good job and wonderful family, along with every ounce of self respect and hope. But he decides one day enough is enough and takes the first step towards recovery, without any support.

One man drinks away his job, home, wife and life in fatal car accident killing more than himself. Another man losses everything, but doesn’t give up and starts all over again to get back all the things he lost.

Breaking the cycle of addiction is one of life’s greatest challenges because there are so many very real obstacles. Just the very first baby-step to recovery requires the near impossible task of trying to see through the fiercely pathological interaction with the tangled mayhem of unconscious motives, conscious thoughts, intense feelings, changed brain biochemistry, overt behavior, the overwhelming hopelessness about the impossible challenges, and the temporary effectiveness of the rewards of the addiction. Add the typical ADHD symptoms of an addict personality and all you get is a blur and motion sickness.

How do some people manage to recover against all odds? I think there are three possible paths:

1. Praying for and getting divine help and intervention. This doesn’t happen very often, but just enough to know it is possible.
2. Using brute will power just to prove to yourself and the world it can be done. This happens even less.
3. Finding a reason to do it and then getting the help and support from any available resource, especially # 1 and 2 above. This is probably the most successful path, but it requires more self-exploration, patience, courage, determination and support than most normal people have and in a much more overwhelming situation than most of us are unlucky enough to face.

The potential for breaking the vicious cycle of addiction is like trying to break into the last 5% of elite success reserved for the lonely few who can’t help but know they will get there by just not giving up. Most efforts stop short before the dreams fade. The starting and ending point are the same: Discovering the real reason to the start of the addiction, which is the real reason to end it.

I have thoughtfully come to the conclusion that a person has to personally discover the only real universal reason for starting the addictive path and then later stopping it by making such a near impossible transformation from a wasted life of addiction to a valued one of sobriety. But this can only happen when the timing is right—not too much or too little pain, where life and death meet at the crossroads, in order to see deeply inside yourself to remember your true self, or the person you were born to be and what it is that you really want from life. That is the beginning of seeing what you haven't done to get those things.

The addict who opens his or her mind wide enough to take the first step to recovery finds a reason to want to begin making the transformation. This person finally realizes that stopping the addiction is the only way to find the reason. It is exactly what God and the person both want, because it is the only way to feel the way they really want to feel—happy, loved, whole, satisfied, successful and rewarded for doing the few things in life that really do matter most to get those cherished feelings. Or, to feel alive for the first time in a long while.

Of course the things that really do matter most in life, providing this universal reason for starting and ending the addiction , are the same for us all. These things are:

• Working productively at something meaningful and rewarding that helps the world be a better place for yourself and others.
• Getting along well with family and friends and enjoying their company.
• Feeling good physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
• Having fun and enjoyment in playing.
• Having real hope about the future always getting better.
• Being in a healthy and loving intimate relationship with another human being.

And, the only way a person can transform addictive behavior in fulfilling this reason and getting to these highly desired feelings, is by courageously looking inside and accepting the whole package, with the un-quitting determination to make it better day by day through tremendous support of others along the way and with generosity and abundance of love.

Although this first step to recovery—finding the reason for starting and ending the addiction—is essential to success, it is just the easiest hard part of a lifelong journey forward, with more back-sliding temptations and opportunities than are needed to make the point. But nothing good can come without discovering the right reason to say goodbye to the addiction and hello to sobriety. The right reason does make the journey a little bit easier to understand and deal with.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing), The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press), You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers), and Reality Repair Rx (Publish America) This article is an excerpt from an upcoming book Reality Repair. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or