Addiction recovery is a complicated process, full of twists and turns. Drugs and alcohol cause chemical changes in the brain which transmit signals to the body for more of the substances. It can be a helpless feeling to desire use of drugs or alcohol even when the spirit says no more. Many factors play a role in addiction, including personal willpower. Learn how to improve willpower to prevent relapse in recovery.
What is Willpower
Willpower is another word for self-control. The skill can be developed over time by resisting temptation, ignoring impulses, overcoming negative thoughts and thinking in a conscious way rather than with emotions. Willpower is an important skill which can enhance a person’s life. Lack of willpower can also lead a person to start using again against better judgment.
Why it Fails
Every person experiences lapses in willpower and self-control. Human beings naturally lose control as part of human nature but researchers discovered willpower can be a limited resource as well. Willpower may be depleted by many things. Much like a muscle, it requires working out, activation and purposeful movement to continue seeing results. Resisting temptation can be harder when faced with it on a daily basis. The person eventually becomes fatigued and worn down by repeated exposure and decides against making the right choice and, instead, lets down the guard and loses control enough to relapse.
The more a person exercises willpower to prevent relapse, the better off a person will be. Part of it is psychological, An individual who believes personal willpower does not exist is more likely to give into temptation. Researchers suggest pacing oneself, practicing and avoiding relapse by staying away from people, places and things which trigger cravings can be helpful. The world is full of triggers for people to use drugs or alcohol so it is not totally avoidable. Think of recovery as running a marathon rather than a sprint. To enhance willpower, a person needs to believe in the ability to control urges and understand limitations to focus one step at a time.
An immediate reward can lead a person to become addicted but rewards may also be positive. People may experience willpower fatigue because of constantly saying ‘no’ to things without a reward for saying ‘yes.’ When the urge to relapse occurs and is resisted for a period of time, it is only natural to desire some reward for the behavior. Perhaps a day off work, a short trip somewhere or a new purchase with money saved up over time can create a healthful reward. The more a person works towards a successful recovery, the easier it becomes to exert self-control to avoid relapse.
If you are struggling with cravings and triggers, it may be time to contact The Villa to find out how we can help bolster your willpower for the long haul. Call us if you are worried about relapsing and we can help get you on the path back to a healthy, positive focused recovery plan.