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Overcoming Addictions 09/21/18

Seven Signs You're Not Ready to Quit

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What does it take to be ready to quit an addiction or obsessive behavior? Truthfully, it begins with a willingness to admit we are powerless over it. That's the first step in most recovery programs. So, how can we tell if someone's not ready to take the first step, not ready to quit?

Look out for behaviors described below - they are warning signs of a person who isn't ready to quit:

1 - Defensive

A person may overreact to words or questions that don't seem confrontational. The person perceives they're under a personal attack and acts out on it. It could show up in a small group setting with a simple comment from a group member, "It sure was hot today." The defensive person may have grabbed a couple of cold beers when the heat was oppressive. He or she feels a tinge of guilt and lashes out, "It wasn't that hot" or a rude, "This group's useless" as they walk out of the room. Such a display of defensiveness is a red flag. Being vulnerable and open are key to being ready to quit. Defensiveness creates walls.

2 - Makes Excuses

The not-so-recovering alcoholic who drank a couple of cold beers on the hot day would use the heat as an excuse. "It was sweltering hot! I had to have a cold beer or I would have passed out from the heat." A recovering internet porn addict may say, "It was on so-and-so's computer, not mine! I wouldn't have looked at it if it was on my computer." Someone who's ready to quit will admit that they messed up instead of making excuses. They may even say, "There's no excuse for what I did."

3 - Whining

Whining is a first cousin to making excuses. It sounds like this, "I'm try-y-y-y-ing so hard. This isn't easy for me." It's reminiscent of a child who whines at bedtime about not being tired. The more whining, the less sleeping. And so it is with giving up a habit. The more whining, the farther the person is from getting on with change. It's indicative of being halfway committed to change. Someone who's ready to change will be fully committed - no whining - no self-pity - only focusing forward.

4 - Lying and Secrecy

If a person still lies and has secrets to hide their addiction, that person is only fooling one person - his or her self. People who do this only go through the motions of AA or some other recovery group. They want others to see them "trying." Often, this is an attempt to keep relationships that are in danger because of their addiction. However, the truth will surely find them out. Truthfulness is another key to being ready to quit.

5 - Preachiness

As odd as it may seem, people in recovery groups who preach at others, telling them what they need to do, or say, or think, are often the very ones who haven't dealt with their own problems. If you're at a small group and you hear someone start out with, "What you need to do is ..." you can be sure that this person is more interested in your recovery than their own. In a healthy group, every person takes responsibility for their own recovery and no one else's. It's akin the parable that Jesus used: "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, `Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." Matthew 7:3-5

6 - Lack of Self-Control

A person who looks in the freezer ten times, finally gives in, and sits in front of the TV eating from the tub of ice cream shows a lack of self-control. That person is not showing signs of being ready to deal with their food addiction. If this same person looks in the freezer once, sees the ice cream, and decides to stay away from the freezer for the rest of the night — that person has shown self-control. Addictions are by their very nature temptations. If there's a serious lack of self-control, there will be no victory over the problem. If a person practices self-control and gets better at it, the new response will be healthy avoidance instead of giving into temptation. Because of our sinful nature, we all need God's power working on our behalf to have more success with self-control. In Hebrews 4:15 we find this truth, "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin."

7 - Rebellion

This is easy to spot. In its purest form, the person rejects the idea of denying themselves their drug of choice. They may attend recovery meetings because they are court assigned. Or simply to appease family members. But they haven't changed their behavior at all. This person isn't positioned for change. At a less recognizable level, you may hear something like, "I'm not going to drink anymore, but I'm not going to stop hanging out with my friends or going to clubs." A person who wants freedom bad enough to quit will not rebel against the changes they need to make. The person who is ready to quit is humble - the very opposite of rebellious.

Each of these characterizes an attitude of denial - an attitude that skirts the issue of being open for change.

Copyright © 2011 Beth Livingston, used with permission. Adapted from a presentation given June 7, 2011, by Dr. Paul Hardy at Recovery For Life in Virginia Beach, VA.

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