A popular TV star was recently interviewed about her decision to have radical surgery when doctors detected the early stages of a life-threatening disease. After answering several questions on the same topic, she became increasingly frustrated and interrupted the interviewer; “Why does everyone want to always take the easy road,” she asked. “Life is not a series of shortcuts. Sometimes we need to make the hard choices if we want the best results.”
These challenging words describe the way in which too many people approach recovery, seeking the easy path forward rather than options with the greatest potential for success. Addiction is a chronic disease that kills or destroys millions of lives, yet many fail to take it seriously. Rather than considering the action with the best chance of success, they look for quick-fixes to avoid relapse. “I can stay strong without going to meetings,” “A sponsor is for people much worse than me,” “I don’t need to say good-bye to the people and places where I used my drugs or alcohol,” are all frequently heard phrases. So many people devote their energy to looking for shortcuts.
If we consider those who suffer from the disease of addiction, we see that a common characteristic is a search for the easy way out. Avoid dealing with stress – use your drug of choice. Avoid addressing conflict in a relationship – use your drug of choice. Avoid resolving deep hurts and internal pain – use your drug of choice. Embracing shortcuts is a way of life for addicts and alcoholics.
Recovery cannot succeed without taking the harder road. Rehab is a minimum of 28 days because research shows that it takes the brain at least that long to make discernible changes. 12-Step programs cannot be rewritten with only 6-Steps because each step is critically important. Recovering addicts and alcoholics need to avoid high risk situations because the pull of their disease can be incredibly strong. Sponsors and support groups are crucial because addiction cannot be beaten without help.
A successful recovery is not built on shortcuts. It comes from a determined effort to do many things right, not just a few. It requires the maximum effort, not a minimal response. Failure rarely comes from doing more than is needed, but it is often caused by doing less than is necessary.