Most addicts like to wreck things. Throwing a spanner in the works when things are going well may be normal for some of us. Perhaps at one time it gave us an insane feeling of somehow being in control. Even in treatment we do this.
A twelve step programme requires rigorous honesty with self. This is a fundamental requirement. Compromise is not an option. If addicts cut corners they start the process that leads to relapse.
Because addiction is so powerful and cunning, it will not leave us alone. It will try to get us out of treatment by playing on our weaknesses.
Consider the following list of ‘sabotage thoughts’:
1. I’m just out of detox and I feel better. I’ll just go home because I know I can handle it now.
2. I can’t really be an addict: I haven’t lost my house, job, wife etc.
3. I don’t want to deal with the here and now. It’s too depressing.
4. My life has been so horrible it’s no wonder I behave like this.
5. If you had my wife/father/boss, you’d be an addict too.
6. I’ll keep doing things the way I always have, because I know best.
7. If I see someone with a problem similar to mine, I rescue them and don’t let them deal with it.
8. I don’t let my family come to family therapy – It’ll save them emotional pain.
9. Drinking isn’t a problem – I just want to control it.
10. I know the words ‘one day at a time’. These are good words and I hope somebody puts them into action.
11. I know more than my therapist, especially about me.
12. I’ve learnt enough, I know about the steps and lots of things about AA/NA.
13. Look at John and Sue – they’re really screwing up the programme.
14. I need to leave treatment. My boss needs me, my family needs me, my kids need me.
15. I need to hide my secrets. If I don’t, you might not like me.
16. I don’t need to work, my therapist is working hard enough for both of us.
17. These rules were made for other people, not me.
18. I don’t like this place, the family will come and get me — after all, it’s their responsibility.
19. If I want an intimate relationship with another patient it’s our business and nobody else’s.
20. I’ve learnt enough and I know I’ll never use again – goodbye!
How can you deal with self sabotage? As with all recovery, honesty is the keyword.
Look at yourself, listen and ask for help. Remind yourself why you are in treatment and think of how it was before. Remember pride; it stops you listening to others, asking for help or relating to others. Learn to challenge your thoughts. Remind yourself again of what sabotage is: a misguided attempt to deal with negative thoughts by providing a quick solution. Don’t let it happen.
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | October 23, 2013