There are plenty of reasons pride is good. The pride of having done something well is one of our noblest emotions. However, pride can also make us complacent, or even oblivious. Pride can make us refuse help we should accept because we want to believe we have everything under control. In this sense, pride can be dangerous.
Pride interferes at many points along the path to recovery. First, people are often too proud to admit they have a problem. They have an image in their mind of a typical addict or alcoholic and think, ‘I’m not that‘. That may well be true, but addiction doesn’t look the way most people think it does. Addiction is simply a pattern of behaviour. If you obsess over drugs or alcohol, if you need more to feel the same, if you let it control your life to the detriment of everything else, then you have a problem with addiction.
It’s very difficult for people to admit they have lost control over their drug use or drinking. To them it implies a sort of weakness. They think they aren’t the sort of person addiction happens to. If they do get to a place where they can admit they have a problem with addiction, they now have a new problem: asking for help. Admitting you have a problem and solving a problem are two different things. If pride can stop you from admitting a problem, it can also stop you from seeking help. You want to believe you can solve the problem yourself.
Not only does asking for help mean you can’t solve the problem yourself, but it means other people will know about it, even if it’s just your therapist or group. Now reputation is involved.
If you manage to get past these hurdles and get sober, pride is still not done with you. You should be proud to be sober for any length of time, but you can’t rest on your laurels. Recovery is an ongoing process of self-examination and improvement. If you aren’t working the steps and actively improving your life, you risk relapse. If you do relapse, pride may keep you from admitting your mistake and getting back on the wagon. Many people are too embarrassed to go back to meetings after a relapse, when that is the best thing they could possibly do. No one is there to judge you; they are only there to help. If you have to start again, it beats the alternative.
Humility is the antidote to pride. Humility is remembering that anyone can slip up. You never know what’s coming. All you can do is stick to your process and do what you can to strengthen your recovery every day.
Castle Craig Hospital is a landmark of addiction and mental health treatment in Scotland, serving the UK, the EU, and patients from all over the world. Our commitment to long term abstinence has created a successful programme of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit. Serving over 10,000 patients for more than 25 years, the Castle Craig model is proven in changing lives. Call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line for information: 0808 231 7723. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006