Success in the Face of Failure
It is no secret that addiction can be highly stigmatized in our society, and one of the main things that creates that stigma is that there is often a lot of failure for addicts trying to get clean. It is understandable why families and loved ones can become so frustrated when so many broken promises to get a clean start to pile up. I will save the debate on whether that failure has more to do with how our country has gone about treating addiction rather than the addicts themselves for another time. Instead, I want to focus on why, if you fall into the category of an addict who has failed at their attempts to get clean or love someone who has let you down in this regard, continuing to fight for the solution in the face of failure is the right path.
Think about anything in life and how you achieve success. To hone a craft, it takes a lot of hard work, patience, and often perseverance in perfecting that ability. Everybody fails along the way. To learn how to do anything with perfection, you must first experience what it is like to do it wrong. Our failures become our greatest teacher as we learn new and better ways of doing things through life. We are all born with talent of some kind, something that comes naturally to us, but it is through hard work and practice where we find greatness in our talents.
Overcoming something like addiction, often years of substance abuse and the bad habits that come with it is not as simple as putting the drugs or alcohol down and moving on with life. It is a major lifestyle change that involves a lot of moving parts and variables. Everyone has their own unique situation and background, different challenges, and obstacles to overcome. For someone attempting to get clean, there can be initial resistance to making the necessary changes, such as a geographical change or a career move. For some, they may not want to leave their hometown or change jobs, but later find that they are necessary changes to give them the best chance to succeed. For others, they may resist a longer termed approach at treatment and continuously opt for short detoxes or month-long treatment centers in hopes that the next time will be different. If a person continues to live in these failures rather than learning from them, the addiction, and the problems that come with it will be prolonged and often amplified.
However, those failures do not have to define an addict. While it is important to not continue the tired methods that clearly are not getting results, it is important to keep trying. If failure is indeed our greatest teacher and an addict has failed many times over at getting clean, the silver lining is that the willingness to try has continued despite those failures, and that is where hope can be found. Instead of harping on the failures, use them. Do something different, learn from those mistakes and what did not work, so long as it is never used as an excuse to give up. That goes for both addicts and their loved ones.
Failing is an inevitable part of life, but when success is found through failure, failure becomes our strength. That perspective, when used towards overcoming addiction, can create hope when it seems lost. Our failures are in the past, embrace them, learn from them, gain strength from them, and carve out your path, a path free from addiction.