All people fundamentally begin with a clean slate. It is only the choices we make that determine our paths. Born neither good nor bad, we are shaped by the choices we make within our environments. Even those who are raised under seemingly disadvantaged circumstances ultimately have a decision to make. They can either continue along their same abysmal path, perpetuating their own poor health and unhappiness, or make their own future. We have all heard the rags to riches stories. The real-life Cinderellas don’t have fairy Godmothers. They have the perspicacity to realize their choices and take ultimate control of their own lives.

On the inverse, we can also make choices that take us veering off our road to health and happiness. Someone who seems to have the entire world on their side can make a single decision that starts a cataclysmic chain reaction. Think about puffing that first cigarette in your high school bathroom twenty years ago. Think about the choice you make at the convenience store every time you pick up another pack. Think about the screaming match you had with your spouse and think about how you kept screaming.

Once habits have been formed by series of choices, whether conscious or not, it is often difficult to choose to break the cycle. After years of building up an emotional dependency on a habit, that habit often seems like the only thing that can provide comfort or stress relief. We even go as far as developing our own superstitions and excuses to validate it. “A cigarette with coffee in the morning is the only way to ensure a good work day.” Or, “A beer in the evening is the only way I can relax and enjoy my time home.” Just like any other black cat or broken mirror superstition, those beliefs are not founded in reality. Those beliefs simply eternalize the cycle of the destructive choices.

Addiction comes into play when we fail to realize even our ability to choose. When we have given ourselves over to the habits and helplessness, we are addicted. The Latin root of the word, “addiction”, literally means surrender. When we are addicted, we have given our lives, our happiness, and ourselves over to our destructive choices. The white flag is flown and we feel a sense of helplessness. We label ourselves addicts and hand over the reigns, convinced that there’s nothing that can be done. The truth of the matter is, the power is and always has been in our hands.

Just as we are responsible for the decisions that cause and perpetuate addiction, we are also responsible for the decisions to conquer addiction. Without choice, we are merely slaves to our feelings of hopelessness. We have to come to terms with the fact that we are responsible for our own outcomes. We have to face our habits head-on and discredit all of the excuses we’ve ever made. We need to choose to reroute our path. With commitment and continuous consciousness of every decision that we make, we can decide to change our future.

Author's Bio: 

From corporate Wall Street banking PR to author, Sindy Mils offers insight into addiction behaviour in contemporary society through her two books, The Smoker’s Diet, a self-help guide to quit smoking and Purple Mike, addiction fiction for at-risk youth. She holds a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.