Addiction Treatment & Recovery Process
It is helpful to try to demystify the addiction treatment and recovery process. This process is not how it works for every man however this is the basic journey that many addicts embark on to create a fundamental change in their lives and to live free of an addiction.
1. Awareness & Acceptance – Part I
The ultimate first step is becoming aware and accepting that you have a problem and that the problem is an addiction. In most cases men are faintly aware of having an addiction. They know that they have over the course of their lives struggled with an addictive behaviour but the consequences were never severe enough. Often men have a stereotypical perception of what it means to be an addict (i.e. unemployed, on the street) and as such don’t believe it is possible for them to be an addict. However, generally the pain that comes from the negative consequences of being an addict becomes too great and the man starts to ask himself the more difficult questions.
2. It’s Time “I” Fix This
Once the man has become aware and accepted that he may have a problem with an addiction then he usually tries to solve it on his own. This is an important part of the recovery process because most times men are trying kick their addiction without having to disrupt their lives to drastically. This approach is more about making tweaks to one’s life. It usually works for the first little while and then they start to doubt that they ever had an addiction. Once the doubt creeps in about ever having an addiction then the addictive behaviours roars back.
3. Awareness & Acceptance – Part II
This is a much deeper level of awareness and acceptance. The consequences of the addictive behaviour are becoming more significant and the individual knows that trying to solve the problem on his own has not worked to date. He feels stuck. He no longer wants to live with the addiction but he is not exactly sure what to do to solve it.
4. Seeking Professional Help
At this stage the man has decided and has enlisted the courage to seek external help. It is an extremely courageous step because by doing so the man more deeply accepts that he has a problem with an addiction and that he can’t solve it on his own. It is a fundamental step in the healing and change process.
5. Work, Work, Work
Recovery from an addiction involves a tremendous amount of work. However, the work is not to stop your addictive behaviours but rather to work on all the deep pain that has drove you to the addictive behaviours. Your focus and attention must be on the internal pain that is causing you to drink, drug, seek sex or porn and not just trying to stop the behaviours as the latter won’t work. Here is a basic framework of the work involved to recover from an addiction.
- Find a Therapist: the role of working with a therapist is to do the deep work of uncovering any deep pains (i.e. trauma in your past, difficult family history, etc.). This one -on-one work will help you become more aware of why you gravitated towards your addictive behaviours. It will bring awareness to why you have behaved how you have.
- 12-Step Group: 12 step groups are important tools to recover from an addiction because you have access to regular support but more importantly you become part of a community. It is a great place to practice engaging in healthy relationships. It also supports you to look more deeply at your history.
- Men’s Group: Men’s group can also play a very pivtol role. These groups are different then 12-step groups as they don’t focus only on your addiction. Once again you will have a chance to focus on your deeper pain, build healthy relationships and be in community.
- Spirituality: The 12 step movement is predicated on spirituality or faith. For some, to become sober is to reach for a higher self. A spiritual practice; i.e. church, meditation, playing with your children, playing a sport, walking in the woods, writing, praying is an important part of your recovery process.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Neuroscience has suggested that an addict’s brain has changed. The role of recovery is to create new networks in the brain that supersede the addictive ones. There is only one way to do this; practice, practice, practice. Every single time you choose a healthy response where you once chose your addiction is a very big win. You are slowly changing your brain chemistry. Each time you do so you become stronger and the power of the addiction starts to disintegrate.
7. New You
The joy of recovering from an addiction is indescribable. You will eventually reach a point where you you will become repulsed by the addictive behaviour because you are no longer the same man. Your entire orientation has changed and now your north star is towards a healthy life filled with intimacy and authenticity. The challenges of your life will not disappear but your responses to them will. Your addiction does not vanish it just loses power over you with time.
8. Joys of Addiction Recovery
- You will fulfill your life potential
- You will live a life of contribution and service
- You will have deep and loving relationships
- You will feel happy and serene
- You will feel truly healthy
- You will feel worthy
- You will help create or contribute to a loving family
- You will feel hopeful about life
- You will feel loved.
Further Related Reading
- Blog | Porn, Power, Men & Hope
- Blog | Sex Addiction: Gateway to an Authentic Masculinity?
- Blog | Am I a Sex Addict?
12-Step Addiction Resources for Men in Toronto
- Sexaholics Anonymous Toronto, SA
- Sex Addicts Anonymous, SAA
- Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
- Alcoholics Anonymous, AA
- Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
Men Therapy Toronto
Counselling & Therapy Services for Men
“Every single time you choose a healthy response where you once chose your addiction is a very big win. You are slowly changing your brain chemistry. Each time you do so you become stronger and the power of the addiction starts to disintegrate.”