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Protecting Recovery: Willingness versus Willfulness

Once a person has become motivated to recover from chemical dependency and is willing to do the work necessary to make the change happen, there is a question of willingness versus willfulness in the process. Willingness is doing what is needed in each situation, in an unpretentious way. Perhaps the most valuable outcome of Willingness is Effectiveness.

 
Willingness is listening very closely to your wise mind and acting from your inner self. In contrast, Willfulness is sitting on your hands when action is needed, refusing to make the necessary changes. Willfulness is giving up, refusing to tolerate the moment, and the opposite of doing what has been proven to work.
 
In order to protect recovery it is important to be able to distinguish whether motivation is coming from willingness or willfulness.  Are you protecting your recovery or enabling your chemical dependency?
 
At The AToN Center, we have some helpful ideas of how to stay in a place of willingness and protect your recovery. One of these ideas is the concept of “Burning Bridges” in which we encourage residents to actively remove the means available to you to act on urges or cravings. This concept is covered in a Recovery Study, and recognizes that relapse into harmful behaviors happens more easily when there is an immediate opportunity to act on impulses.
 
Some helpful ideas for protecting recovery and staying in a place of willingness include:
 
  • Remove all alcohol and drugs from the home
  • Remove all alcohol and drug related paraphernalia from the home including wine glasses, lighters, pipes, papers, etc.
  • Erase numbers of using friends, dealers, and associates from your phone
  • Discontinue prescription refills
  • Notify physicians not to prescribe narcotic medications 
  • Tell people that you have given up substances
  • Actively tell people when you feel the impulse to use
  • Stay away from bars and liquor stores
The AToN Center will even take your controlled and contraindicated medications for destruction before you discharge from our program. Recovery is not easy and the AToN Center knows this. But, if the willingness to get and stay sober is there, we can provide the tools and support necessary to help.
 
Kate Judd
CD Counselor
AToN Center 888-535-1516