Hi. Thanks for taking the time to read this. We are on a journey of change from an unhealthy pattern of ‘exits’ from our life to a healthier pattern of facing and processing difficulties. How do we do this exactly? Today I want to give you more of an understanding of ‘exits’ and the part they play in addiction! By the time you have read this you will have a better grasp on how to think of drug use and other exits.
In order to explain this I am going to have to mention brain chemistry! There, I said it. But don’t worry, I am not going into any detail, just to say that addicts have a particular form of brain chemistry that allows them to have ‘exits’. It is important that you recognise this difference as without this understanding you are opening yourself up to all kinds of shame and low self worth because you think you should react like other people. You have a different brain which allows you to have exits. Anyone could drink like you or take drugs like you but the difference is that they would not get the relief from pressure that you get as an addict.
What this means in practice is that when we are in a bad state or feeling low we have an option that others do not have. Of course the biggest exit option of all is suicide which is an option everyone has. So ‘exits’ are a form of temporary suicide.
If you think of your life as a room then an ‘exit’ is just that, it is a door with a lit sign above it saying EXIT. You have an option of not being you for a while. This is taken to extremes when you ‘black out’. This can be a calm decision based on something like boredom or it can be a panicky decision based on fear.
So what happens? It seems like you have the perfect answer! Just take a holiday from being you every time difficulties come! Unfortunately this does not work long term and eventually the cure becomes worse than the disease. Like any medication there are always side effects. By the time addicts get into this state they are usually so addicted that it seems impossible to stop. There is so much habituated behaviour going on.
How do we deal with this? What can we do? Well the first thing is to accept the reality of the situation. Remember, acceptance is not agreement or anything like that, just the fact that it is real. Secondly we have to choose reality! There is no short cut here, no softer, easier way! I have had clients who thought that their embarrassment was the worst thing in the world! They had to learn that it wasn’t. I have had clients that really believed that they could not face their resentful self, they could! I have had clients literally run out of a treatment centre after just half an hour at the very thought that it might get uncomfortable later! Yes we need support but it is always possible to choose reality over the exit.
This brings up a teaching point here, when we think of feeling good because we took a substance, this is simply feeling good without doing anything to deserve it. We can change our mind and think about earning our satisfaction through better thinking and behaviour. Every time you make a choice towards recovery, you feel a little better about yourself. Also do check out our podcast on this subject of EXITS.
Of course, like all these processes it is the commitment to practice that counts, not just the knowledge. I hope that helped you. Please email me with any questions.
Thanks again for taking the time today.