Why will power doesn’t work

For those of you who prefer watching to reading, here is a video with a few thoughts about why will power is NOT any kind of strategy for staying clean.  As I describe, believing in will power is not only unhelpful;  it even INCREASES one’s chance for relapse, and serves as a frequent justification for the using that leads to full-blown relapse.  Please share comments at SuboxForum.com.

Strong Enough?

I am moving a post from the comment section up to here, as it sets up a couple points worth making.  As always, I suggest that the writer of the comment check out suboxone.com and naabt.com, two good sources of information about Suboxone.  I also suggest my own ‘product’ for sale on the right, particularly for people who could use an introduction to the concepts involved in choosing between treatment options for opiate dependence.
The comments from the writer:
please email me at [email protected]. I have been using opiates on and off for 12 years with NO issues. July 2006 I quite cold-turkey a 18 pill a day and was “clean” for 20 months. The opiates started out as a friend then became an enemy and that is why I quit. I also quite all the people in my life that were part of the drug, in other words if they relationship was a drug relationship they had to go along with the drug because temptation never takes a break. 20 months later I thought I was strong enough and could handle anything. Met up with an old drug friend and within 20 minutes I was back on the opiates and here it is 8 months later and 10 pills a day later. If the opiates were not so difficult to get, I probably would NOT quit. That being said, I am starting therapy with a therapist. Will he help me with this dependence? Will he prescribe any of the drugs that you talk about on this blog? And finally, you mention several drugs here and I don’t know if they are the same drug and people just mispell them or if they are different drugs. But I am asking this entire community along with this doctor here to help me by sending me an email to my email address. What drug do I take to get off of the Opiates? then for how long? Then what after that? And so on and so forth. Thank you – all you strong humans. We humans have a strenght within us that our humanness does not know, but yet there is a part of us within that DOES know and it knows that it knows in a gnosis way. Please help. thx.
I hope that the writer doesn’t find this too obnoxious, but what I like to do is go through the message part-by-part.  I do this for several reasons.  First, as I frequently point out, opiate dependence is an amazingly-predictable disease.  The progression is virtually identical from person to person, with variation only in the minor details.  Opiate dependence affects the mind of the addict, causing denial among other things.  At the same time, each opiate addict feels ‘terminally unique’ throughout the course of the illness, seeing faults in others, but blind to the same faults in him/herself.  One of the benefits of attending a 12-step group is seeing the pattern unfold in person after person;  this helps the recovering addict understand the progression of addiction and even learn to identify and predict his own ‘triggers’ and ‘addictive thinking’.  I want to do the same with the comments;  to point out examples of classic ‘addictive thinking’ that people can then learn to identify in themselves.  I ask that writer try to avoid taking my comments ‘personally’– I am not trying to insult anyone, as we all are in, or have been in, the exact same place!
One more aside… for people looking for Suboxone treatment in the Midwest, I am now open to new patients and also participating in a study that pays up to $225 for patients who enroll and participate.  My contact info is at Wisconsin Opiate Management Center.  I require at least the first visit, the induction, in person–I can then do telepsychiatry for further visits if people live a distance from my office.
Going through some of the comments:
I have been using opiates on and off for 12 years with NO issue…
I don’t know what to make of this comment.  I do not think that it is possible to take opiates for 12 months without issues, let alone 12 years. I guess it all depends upon what a person means by ‘issues’.  The worst part of opiate dependence, in my opinion, is the most subtle, and the easiest to deny– the effects on personality.  When a person uses any drug of abuse, the person almost always has some inner negative opinion about what they are doing.  Most people have internalized parental messages about d oing drugs, so that even while they make fun of their parents’ being ‘up tight’, there is somewhere inside a small kernel of shame.  Many people also have a ‘work ethic’ somewhere in the back of their minds, and doing drugs is at conflict with that as well.  Some people have personal health standards that using violate.  You get the idea…  the conflicts result in shame, which is a horrible thing to feel– so we repress the feeling and awareness of our shame.  We push the shame deep inside so that we don’t even feel it anymore;  being around other people will sometimes trigger it though, so to keep it from bothering us we put on a fake, cocky exterior.  As time goes on we get better and better at putting up that ‘fake self’, sometimes even losing track of who the ‘real me’ is!  Again,  when we are in that mode it is extremely uncomfortable to be around people who really know us;  I remember being extremely uncomfortable just sitting at the dinner table with my family!  During active use, close relationships with other people are simply impossible– instead we collect a bunch of shallow ‘buddies’ or relationships based solely on physical attraction.
Even if this were not the case, how does a person use opiates ‘on and off’?  The physical dependence and withdrawal are unavoidable– and anyone who has been through several episodes of withdrawal recognizes that they are ‘issues’.  Miserable issues.  Moving on…
July 2006 I quite cold-turkey a 18 pill a day and was “clean” for 20 months. The opiates started out as a friend then became an enemy and that is why I quit.
So at some point during the 12 years, the drugs became the ‘enemy’.  If this person is anything close to typical, the use was an enemy far earlier than the user recognized.  I often speak to family members to verify the story, and close family members ALWAYS noted irritability, distant emotions, preoccupations, etc far earlier than the addict thinks.  We think we cover things up so well!  I should point out in AA and NA this would be  considered a ‘dry drunk’– a person not using but who has not found recovery.  This rarely lasts real long with opiates, although alcoholics can often remain ‘dry’ for years or even a lifetime.  They are usually miserable people– more miserable even than when they were drinking.
I also quite all the people in my life that were part of the drug, in other words if they relationship was a drug relationship they had to go along with the drug because temptation never takes a break.
Always a good idea– drug friends have to either get clean themselves, or go, if a person is going to stay clean for any length of time.
20 months later I thought I was strong enough and could handle anything. D Met up with an old drug friend and within 20 minutes I was back on the opiates and here it is 8 months later and 10 pills a day later
Opiate dependence will wait.  My relapse didn’t hit for about 8 years, long after I had forgotten about my ‘problem’.  The main point I want to make, though, is about ‘power’.  WILL POWER DOESN’T WORK!  The main reason?  If I can control my use, why should I quit?  Heck, bring them on… I’ll quit tomorrow!  The first step of a 12-step program is POWERLESSNESS– the realization deep inside that the person has no power over the substance.  This realization is sometimes a wonderful event, and the reason for the ‘miracles’ that AA people talk about…  an addict will sometimes suddenly ‘get it’– get the realization that they are powerless.  When that happens, the urge to use will often just disappear, all of a sudden!  It is a neat thing– and it makes sense when you think about it.  I always think about my son, who liked strawberries, but when he found out that the miserable hives were from the strawberries it was quite easy for him to ‘just say no’ to them!
That being said, I am starting therapy with a therapist.
Unfortunately, therapists and psychiatrists have poor records at helping a person stay clean, unless the person is also in some type of group format.  The 12-step group format is the only thing that has stood the test of time– going on 100 years!  The problem with therapy is that it can make a person think that the personal insight will somehow make it OK for them to use.  ‘Now that I know myself, I probably won’t go as crazy with them– and I can use just a tiny, controlled bit.’  It doesn’t work.
Will he help me with this dependence? Will he prescribe any of the drugs that you talk about on this blog? And finally, you mention several drugs here and I don’t know if they are the same drug and people just mispell them or if they are different drugs…. What drug do I take to get off of the Opiates? then for how long? Then what after that? And so on and so forth.
I think my spellings are usually correct.  In most states, only MD’s or nurse practitioners can prescribe– not ‘therapists’ for the most part.  And most docs cannot prescribe Suboxone– they need a special waiver from the DEA.  Go to the web sites I mentioned at the top of this post, and they will help you find a prescriber.   As for the basic info, I again point out my recording!!  Or you can just read and read– everything is out there, and those web sites I listed have some good articles on them.
Thank you – all you strong humans. We humans have a strenght within us that our humanness does not know, but yet there is a part of us within that DOES know and it knows that it knows in a gnosis way. Please help. thx.

I don’t understand that last part.  But I wish you well, my friend.  There is a better life out there– that I promise.
SD