Choice is a powerful thing. Addiction and alcoholism often get critical feedback when it comes to choice. Scientific study and recent governmental legislature has proven that addiction and alcoholism are not a matter of willpower or choice, they are mental health disorders. A mental illness and a physical allergy, those suffering from a toxic attachment to drugs and alcohol have a constitutional inability to stop themselves from over consuming drugs and alcohol. That is, until, the day they decide to get sober. It is difficult to argue that addiction and alcoholism aren’t matters of will power when one day the uncontrollable and unmanageable compulsion ceases. Or, at least, the ability to overcome it and prevail in not picking up one more drink or one more drug does. Yet, each day when an addict was faced with the choice of using or not using, they resulted in using. Choices are powerful and can be overwhelming. When looking at the deeper psychology of choices, we can understand that it isn’t the choice to not use that compels an addict or alcoholic to get sober. Rather, it is that in that final moment, they have no other choice.
Discussing the power of choice in the psychology of marketing, Tyler Marcum writes that “people love choices.” He explains that when given the opportunity to choose among multiple choices rather than just one, the multiple choices will always be favored. He cites an experiment in which people had to choose between using casino chips at a table with one roulette wheel or two roulette wheels, though all the wheels were identical. People chose the latter. “On a very primal level,” Marcum describes, “choice = control = survival”.
When drinking or drug use gets to a bottoming out point it has usually gotten out of control. Seeing that survival will be difficult to manage if one continues to drink and use, there is a sudden insight into the choice that needs to be made. However, one is quick to forget that every day, that choice has been present. Yet, the choice to not drink and use was always presented with other choices, namely, the choice to drink and use. With many choices at the table, there were better offers to consider. Not drinking and using is a solitary choice. In the end, it is the only one.
Though humans prefer multiple choices, when they have only one choice to make for their survival, they know what they have to do to maintain control of their lives. What causes an addict or an alcoholic not to pick up again is described by many as a spiritual phenomena. Putting on the perspective of choice, it means that, even though the choice to use is still present, it cannot be considered. There are no other choices left. To choose to use again is to choose to completely give up all semblance of control. It is to die. Suddenly, the choice all along becomes obvious: the choice to live.
Refuge Recovery is here to support you or a loved one in carrying out their decision to live and not die at the hands of drugs or alcohol. Our goal is to show you how to life a fulfilled and enriching spiritual life. We offer programs to men and women seeking to change their toxic attachment in relationship to drugs and alcohol. For more information, call 323-207-0276.