Not to over-simplify, because there are several things that addicts need to know. Many aspects of their development have been massively slowed down, or stopped altogether. They typically do not look after their bodies. Their thoughts and belief systems are distorted and dysfunctional. Their relationships have wilted or died altogether. They have no concept of a larger purpose for their life or something that they can uniquely contribute to the world. Major damage control is required, and much knowledge must be gathered.

As daunting as this seems, many addicts lose tolerance for their life of suffering and choose to walk the path of growth and transformation. You may hear them tell their stories of hitting rock bottom, of touching the one thought that knocked everything else loose, of hearing someone else say the one thing that they needed to hear. 

It would be so simple if there was one thing that worked for everybody.

But this is not reality. To reach that point of enough is enough, where the old ways of addiction cannot continue for one more minute, the one thing for each addict is always different. The one thing might actually be one hundred things.

Yet there is still a common thread among them all, which many of them don’t know, and need to. This is the thread of humanity, which links all of us, no matter where we came from or what our stories are. We all seek belonging, we seek validation, we seek each other. There is a shared light among all of us, that while its tone varies from person to person, the core is the same for everyone.

Until they hear their one thing, and understand that in some way they are the same as everyone else, no worse and no better, addicts are stuck in these 6 ways. 

1. All They can See is Lack. Abundance is a mindset that addicts do not possess. They cannot appreciate what they have. They cannot affirm that there is enough for everyone. They cannot be enthusiastic for more. Their lens upon the world sees only that which they do not have, or cannot be, or will never happen, living in the limited realm of impossibility. From this vantage point, there are endless reasons to keep using. Feeling like they have nothing, like they arenothing, is a common thread among addicts. When this pain becomes so unbearable, and they cannot tolerate it for another day, they are looking for a way out. It must become common knowledge for addicts that abundance mindset is an option.

2. They are Running on Autopilot. Their behavior is automatic, like a reflex. They have conditioned themselves, by their beliefs, decisions, and actions, to experience life in a very limited way. The patterns that they operate with are old, and they have reinforced and entrenched them into the neural networks of their brains. Thoughts, words, mannerisms, it’s more of a persona than a personality, because the disconnection between their addict self and their true self is so vast, you can talk to them, and they talk to you, but it’s like they are not even there. They have blended themselves into the group to hide the fact that they do not feel as part of the group. Old programs keep running, because even if they wanted to connect to their true selves, and with others, they have no idea what that is, or how to do it.  

3. Their Words are Empty. It is reasonable to assume that while addicts are active in our addiction, every single word they say is duplicitous, manipulating, or outright lying. They will say what they think you want to hear, whatever that must be, so that they can leave the conversation and carry on with their addiction. They speak, maybe even sound convincing or persuasive, but they speak using intellect, from the brain. Until they learn to speak from the heart, their words mean nothing.

4. They are Hiding in the Shadow. A demon. A voice. The ego. Whatever name they call it, these are endless, incessant thoughts about how it can’t be done, what will certainly go wrong, why they are too weak, why they don’t matter. There is comfort in the shadow, because they have conditioned themselves to know that suffering and despair will eventually lead to using and to release. Standing in the light, and being seen, there is comfort and connection there, but without an ability to trust they will never know it.

5. They feel Worthless Inside. Imagine walking around with a winning lottery ticket in your pocket and not knowing it. Our true selves hold within their human nature all the love and forgiveness and and joy we will ever need, but addicts were never taught this, or shown this, or chose this. On the inside they are lost and afraid, and the outside is crafted to make sure that you never know. Addicts will wallow in sadness and self-pity, without seeing, or knowing, or caring that truth is already in them somewhere.

6. They only see One Choice. Addicts choose their drug of choice above anything else. They love their addiction more than they love their family, more than God, more than themselves. They opt for the easier road, the familiar road, they choose to stay hopeless. The tragedy is that they don’t believe they ever had a choice. It’s like getting their vehicle stuck in two feet of mud, throwing up their hands and saying, it’s no use. I simply can’t dig it out. I must leave it here. There is no admitting failure, or asking for help, or humbling themselves. There is no risking ridicule or rejection. Only one option exists. 

Addicts might share some details about minor frustrations or annoyances, but they never reveal how broken their hearts have become, or the undefined, immeasurable ache at the core of their souls. They suffer this pain alone, walled up behind the limits of their beliefs, and hidden behind the mask they show to the world.

To expand outward and farther, beyond known limits, into ideas and people and truth that were previously unknown, this is a grand leap of faith. And faith does not exist in the heart of an addict. To the addict who still suffers, you must know today that turning to another, asking for help, risking pain, these may be things that you have never done before, which means they demand courage. 

When you look inside, and you touch the point of light that wants freedom and love and belonging, that point of light may be just a little dot. But when you feel it flicker, even slightly, know that point is your center, it is your light, and it is a limitless well from which you can draw all the courage you will ever need, every day, forever.