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Did you know that most people who attempt to stop an addiction do not succeed? Research shows that only 25–40% of people stay sober from attending 12-Step programs or residential treatments. Over time, even this percentage dwindles, because people relapse. These programs are a good place to start, but there’s a lot more to remaining abstinent than merely stopping.

Why does treatment fail? One reason is that people do not follow through with the recommendations and suggestions. It’s similar to going on and off of a diet. You start off enthusiastically following the steps, but then you gradually lose interest, and your mind starts telling you to ‘cheat a little.’ That first little temptation is the beginning of the end. The first key to success is realizing that once you stop, you must permanently stop the addiction. There’s no such thing as partial recovery; it will only lead you back to full-on addiction. Each time you stop and start, it gets harder and harder to stop again, especially if you do not have an environment that supports your recovery. And, it’s not just your current environment that matters…

It’s an Inside Job

If you attempt to stop addiction without doing the inner work, you are putting yourself at high risk for relapse. All addictions are an attempt to cover up a deep internal emptiness, I call it the invisible hole. Either a sense of lack or another form of trauma created that void; you were not born that way. The addiction covers up the feelings of inadequacy and provides a false sense of comfort. While you are engaging in the addiction, you get temporary relief, but then once the high wears off, your mind automatically wants more, then more, and more.

To get your life back and to remain free from the bondage of addiction, the invisible hole must be filled with self-love. This cannot happen until you deal with the cause of the void; the events that punctured your self-esteem and created internal distress. Full recovery requires that you address these underlying issues and heal the wounds that remain submerged but keep steering you toward relapse.

Feeling the Pain for Long-Term Gain

It’s never comfortable to experience feelings that have been bottled up or ignored. Maybe you are afraid of crying because you think you won’t be able to stop. Hidden fear and pain are the invisible walls that prevent you from healing and obtaining peace. Sobriety without peace feels like stark-raving torture and there’s no point in abstinence if you’re only suffering. It’s like having an abscessed tooth or an appendix that’s about to burst and you dread having surgery, so you keep taking Tylenol. On the other hand, if you are willing to face the emotion, you then can release the poison and the pain. Once the emotional toxins are released, you can feel like a new person, and your past will no longer have a hold on you.

Are you ready to face the underlying cause of your addiction and make room for the peace and joy that is the natural state in which you were born?

You can start right now by deciding that you are worth saving.

Can you relate? Please share your comments or insights below.

If you want to connect with Dr. Donna Marks, and find out about her tools and programs on how to Reclaim Your Power Over Addiction, visit her website

About the Author — Dr. Donna Marks believes that the current models for diagnosis, treatment, and addiction have failed. Her mission is to help save at least 10 million lives by 2030, through education and prevention. She has been an author, consultant, educator, public speaker, licensed psychotherapist, instructor of A Course in Miracles, and addictions counselor in private practice in Palm Beach, Florida, for more than thirty years.

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