Sometimes when we know we have a problem and we don’t want to face it, we react instead of responding to it. For instance, we might continue doing what we are doing, whether that’s drinking or using drugs; even though we know it’s bad for us.
We might react by ignoring the problem. Or we might react by telling everyone else what they need to do instead of facing our own problems.
However, the ability to respond is much different than reacting. When we are reacting, we are often behaving out of unconsciousness, meaning we will behave in ways that are familiar to us.
We will react in knee-jerk ways, without giving it thought. Reacting to something usually happens quickly, arising out of emotion or habit.
Yet, responding to something is much different. When you respond, versus react, to something, you’re using logic and reasoning. You’re being thoughtful in the way you behave in response to a person, place, or event. Response requires thoughtful consideration. It requires that you care.
Reacting to Your Addiction Might Only Lead You to the Behaviors Mentioned Above:
- Continue to use
- Ignore the problem
- Point to everyone else as having a problem
- Keep believing that there’s nothing wrong
- Continue to avoid symptoms pointing to the disease of addiction
However, responding to your addiction means that you care. You care about your psychological, physical, and emotional well being. Instead of reacting to the substance use, you might respond in one of the following ways:
- Call a friend who cares about you
- Talk to a family member who is concerned about you
- Call a local treatment center
- Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step meeting
- Call a local therapist or psychologist
- Attend a support group for addicts
- Research information online about the disease of addiction and how to heal it
Reacting and Responding
You might be able to see the difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is more emotional, habitual, and easier. It’s the choice that requires the less amount of energy because it’s what you’re used to and what feels the most familiar.
However, responding is going to require a different choice. It’s going to require more energy, focus, and effort. It’s going to mean that you do some research, make phone calls, and talk to others about what’s going on. Certainly, this means too that it’s going to require some courage.
Responding to your addiction with care means that you’re going to have to do something that perhaps you’ve never done before.
Even though responding is going to require courage, you should know that you can find someone that you feel safe with. When you bring up that you might be struggling with an addiction or substance use for the first time, talk to someone who isn’t going to judge you and who isn’t going to coerce you into anything.
Start Small and Work Your Way For More Responsibility
You can start small by talking with safe people. Perhaps for you, someone safe is someone that you don’t know. Or it might be someone that you have a relationship with. Either way, when you feel safe, you’ll have more ability to ask for the help you need.
Lastly, remember that by responding to your addiction, versus reacting to it, you’re essentially taking responsibility for it. Responsibility is the ability to respond.
Response + Ability = Responsibility
To put it bluntly, reacting to your addiction is behaving out of immaturity. However, responding to your addiction is taking mature responsibility for what’s not going well in your life.
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