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Is Trying To Change an Addictive Habit Worth It?

Is Trying To Change an Addictive Habit Worth It?Drugs. Alcohol. Food. Exercise. Shopping. Gambling. Attempts to change or fix other people. Trying to make more and more money and achieve higher levels of success. Any of these can be used in excess and compulsively as a way to reject the rules and limits of the ‘regular’ world.

In the regular world, we desperately want to reach great heights of love and beauty and excitement and achievement, but must face the reality of falling short. We disappoint ourselves. We disappoint other people. Other people don’t behave the way we want them to and often hurt us.

In the regular world, we can try our best to be safe and still have unpredictable and cruel things happen to our loved ones and to ourselves. We have choices, but not control. We have power, but it is limited. We must continually make decisions based on limited information, among options that are all flawed in some way. We then have to live with the consequences of those choices.

Somehow we are able, through using substances like drugs, food, and alcohol, to carve out a world for ourselves in which these regular rules do not seem to apply to us. We gain access to times of feeling totally free, invincible, safe and completely fulfilled. At least for a moment or more, we get exactly and purely what we want, without jumping through any tedious hoops, and don’t have to think about the consequences.

So, is trying to change worth it? Especially when the path of recovery is painful, scary and incredibly frustrating?

Well, it is a tradeoff.

The price we pay for trying to opt out of regular life is that day after day, year after year, we become weaker and weaker — physically, emotionally and mentally. Our lives become smaller and smaller. Inside our brains and bodies, the same pattern is repeated again and again and again. We become bored and numb and stuck. We see life going on around us, but feel a wall of separation between the world of the living and ourselves.

When you choose to try to stop an addictive habit or behavior, you gain access to a regular life. Your power, in this regular life, lies in taking each moment, starting now, as an opportunity to make the best possible choice for yourself, and then another choice and then another choice. Your invincibility lies in your ability to depend on others even when it feels extremely uncomfortable. Your control over shaping your life lies in your willingness to stay the course on the bumpy and often circular path toward fulfillment.

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Without the option of escape, your intelligence and creativity grow as you learn to work within the reality of human existence to make your life as amazing as possible. You are forced to find nourishing relationships in order to survive. Your world expands beyond the old patterns, and you have the energy and motivation to explore new experiences. You even have the ability to actually feel them.

Is this trade worth it? That is up to you.

Is Trying To Change an Addictive Habit Worth It?

Danielle B. Grossman, MFT

Danielle B. Grossman, California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializes in relationships, loss, anxiety, codependence, and addiction. She works in private practice and consults by phone. Contact her at (530) 470-2233 or

APA Reference
Grossman, D. (2018). Is Trying To Change an Addictive Habit Worth It?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.