The Paradox: The Strength and Resiliency of Addictions…. A Mind Changer


The Paradox: The Strength and Resiliency of Addictions…. A Mind Changer

by

L.T. Force, Ph.D.

Gerontologist

Typically, what we all hear is that addictions only have a negative impact on the individual and their family system. But what if there was another way to take a look at this behavior? What if the underlying foundation of “addictive patterns” actually makes the person and the family system: “stronger and more resilient….it’s a paradox”.

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Definition of Addiction:

  1. the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity." Oxford Dictionary

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If you have ever had the experience, or if a member of your family, friend, workplace or community setting has ever been involved in the: “addictive dance” - you know what it is like. I’m sure you have often said to the person involved in the: “lived experience, or they have said to themselves,….I want to stop this behavior or you should stop this behavior or you must stop this behavior” (whether you are saying it to yourself, or hearing it from a family member, a friend a community member or the law and justice system). What’s the response: “I know….I will….I am”. But the interesting thing is there you are - in a not too distance future repeating the same behavior. (I only wish that everyone that is “absorbed by an addiction” would live the life they say want to live at 8am in the morning - when they vow and swear to themselves or others…. “I will never repeat this behavior - I’m done!”….but to only catch-up to them later in the day when they once again are doing the same thing - that they swore they would never do at 8am in the morning). The question is Why? Maybe the answer is because our approach has been wrong. Maybe it’s not saying “NO!….Stop! ….but rather it’s to “encourage the behavior….a paradox”. Here the person, or family network, has committed to stop doing this behavior - while in fact, they continue it. So, maybe, instead of trying to reduce or eliminate the behavior or pattern that the person wants to change - you encourage them to increase it. It’s called a: “Paradoxical Intervention”.

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Definition of Paradoxical Intervention:

”a therapeutic technique in which a client is directed by the therapist to continue undesired symptomatic behavior, and even increase it, to show that the client has voluntary control over it. Also called paradoxical intervention”.

paradoxical technique - APA Dictionary of Psychology

I have seen this approach utilized, and, over the years, I have employed this approach with a few of my clients. The first reaction I hear from the person “with astonishment” is: “You want me to continue with this behavior? And the answer is; “Yes!” Continue with the behavior. Why not? You have continually said….You want to stop this behavior….but you haven’t….so why not continue with it!“. (Recommendation: You need to be aware and be prepared and alert….if you do use this approach. You never want to lose control of a behavioral situation).

I personally think: “addictive patterns” can make you stronger….stronger in your resolve to work a: “path of recovery”. Stronger to: “build a resiliency for change” - both in the: “arenas of addictions” and in: “other areas of your life”. The “lived-experience” has provided you with gifts and tools of how: “to stick with something even when you didn’t want to”. Now, you use that same determination and drive to focus on areas of your life that you want to expand and excel at. In fact, those patterns and experiences become: “initiators”. But this time, it’s a “Chain reaction for growth and for accomplishment!”


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Definition of: in·i·ti·a·tor

noun: initiator; plural noun: initiators “a substance which starts a chain reaction”. Oxford Dictionary

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You see, you can do this - you and everyone believes you can….”but the first mind that needs to change - is yours - you can do this….now get to it!”