One popular misconception about addiction is that it’s mainly the result of a lack of self-discipline. A 2018 poll found that, while a slight majority of Americans now see addiction as a medical issue requiring treatment, 44 percent of respondents believed that addiction resulted from a lack of willpower or discipline. In reality, addiction is typically caused by the combination of several factors, typically including genes, childhood environment, trauma, and mental health issues. Trying to overcome addiction with self-discipline alone is like crossing the ocean in a rowboat. However, self-discipline can play a supporting role in addiction recovery. Here’s how.
Self-Discipline Can Help You Create Good Habits
Perhaps the most important role self-discipline plays in addiction recovery is that it helps you build healthy habits. Good habits are the key to any positive lifestyle change because having good habits means making healthy decisions without thinking. You don’t decide to go for a run in the morning. Instead, you just do it out of habit. Forming good habits is always hardest at the beginning. Ideally, new habits should have a low barrier to entry and be tied directly to preexisting behaviors. However, you still need to exert a bit of self-discipline to get going. If you want to start an exercise habit by walking five minutes every morning, that’s not especially difficult but you still have to get your shoes on and head out the door. The longer you do it consistently, the less self-discipline it takes.
Self-Discipline Can Get You out of Trouble
The key to a strong recovery is setting up your life in such a way that it’s easier to stay sober than to relapse. Creating a strong support network, healthy lifestyle habits, and avoiding situations that are likely to cause you trouble are major contributors to a strong sobriety. Still, life is unpredictable and at some point, you’re likely to face unexpected temptations. You may have discussed potential high-risk situations with your therapist or in group therapy sessions, creating action plans to prevent relapse. However, it is still up to you to decide to employ those behavioral strategies during those moments. The more you get into the habit of practicing discipline in small things, the easier it will be when those bigger things arise.
Self-Discipline Can Boost Your Sense of Self-Efficacy
Having self-discipline can boost your sense of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the feeling that you are in charge of your own life. You believe your decisions and actions affect what happens to you. After struggling with substance use issues, many people feel out of control, like drugs or alcohol rule their lives. Practicing self-discipline, even in small ways, allows you to take back control of your life.
Looking for Support?
Many people chafe at the idea of self-discipline, thinking it restrictive and boring. In reality, we are all, to some extent, under the yoke of our habits and routines. By exercising a bit of self-discipline, you can choose the direction your habits will take you instead of having the choice made for you. At Tree House Recovery of Orange County, our inpatient addiction treatment program helps men discover the power of self-discipline as a means of creating lasting change in their lives. To learn more about our program, call us today at 855-202-2138.