Addiction Recovery

Misconceptions About Addiction

Lesson 15

In reading in the book Atomic Habits (Chapter 7) I had some thoughts and favorite quotes I wanted to share about dispelling common misconceptions / beliefs about addicts.

Jason’s notes: There was a study of Vietnam veterans who were addicted to drugs. The Vets proved the culture gets addition wrong because 9/10 kicked their drug after they left war and their bad environment.

Common belief was they would be addicted for life. That their addiction was because they lacked self control, they were a bad person, and hand no discipline. And if they only had more discipline everything would work out.

But in fact it wasn’t a moral failing at all.

“When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.

The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the least. It’s easier to practice self-restraint when you don’t have to use it very often. So, yes, perseverance, grit, and willpower are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.”

Jason’s notes: The cue will trigger the craving and your body will always remember, so remove the cues, by changing your environment and habits.

“It is hard to maintain a Zen attitude in a life filled with interruptions. It takes too much energy. In the short-run, you can choose to overpower temptation. In the long-run, we become a product of the environment that we live in. To put it bluntly, I have never seen someone consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment.”

Jason’s notes:
Warning - Stressing an addict out about what they are doing (And it's negative life effects) will lead them to use their coping mechanisms aka acting out. So education isn’t enough, help them change their environment and develop new coping skills and habits.

“Bad habits are autocatalytic: the process feeds itself. They foster the feelings they try to numb.”

So the Misconceptions About Addicts & Self Control

  • Broken and broken for life
  • They need more discipline / self control
  • This is just a moral failing

The truth About Addicts and Self Control

  • Need to design a better environment so we don't have to use self control often.
  • Remove some things from our environment.
  • Add some things into our environment.
  • We have to practice new skills and develop a new life style and habits.
  • Admit our limits and work within them.


All Quotes today came from Chapter 7 The Secret to Self Control from Atomic Habits.

Action Steps

  • Consider What is in your environment that you continue to be triggered by that needs to go (Devices, people, places, smells, sights, sounds...)
  • Consider how you can change your environment to succeed better (Where you study, when...)  
Powered by Thrive Apprentice