Comment/Response on Carrying Self-Absorption Into Sobriety


Comment: 

I appreciate and respect your courage to put yourself out there the way you have and your view on things.
You have a good perspective on things and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me.
I am one of the few members of my family that isn’t an addict. I have dealt with addiction as a sister, daughter, care taker at a drug rehab facility and as a friend but now I also am dealing with it as a mom. Completely different ball game…
My daughter has been clean for 3 years and is doing very good as far as not using. However she is so self obsessed it is creating a lot of problems.
She was not self obsessed as a child or before the addiction. It was quite the other way around. She was always taking care of and thinking of everyone else and a very considerate and thoughtful person. So now when it has been hinted at that she is being selfish in some way she gets very upset and hurt. She hasn’t noticed or come to terms with the fact that she is so self absorbed. It is a VERY loaded subject and I am afraid it may be a trigger.
How do you tell a person that used to be the most caring and considerate person you know that their addiction made them self absorbed? She deserves all kinds of props for kicking the drug habit. I just don’t think she knows that there were other ‘habits’ that formed while addicted, that need to be addressed and that can be kicked as well. Also how does a person stop being self absorbed.
I really appreciate your time and hope you have some suggestions
~Julia


Response: 
     The very act of becoming an addict is selfish. Simply to ply the mind and body with a substance for an effect is selfish. People drink and use drugs to provide themselves with comfort, and thus you must begin using with a focus on the self. That said, years of alcohol or drug abuse will amplify selfishness and self-absorption to the point of pathological narcissism. So addiction and selfishness are synonymous. The pathological focus on self is one of the most devastating effects on those who surround the addict, most of all the parent or spouse. To have robbed our loved ones of their time, energy, love, tears and savings and then to continue to rob them and suck them dry once physically sober is atrocious. Trust me, I know this from experience as I am guilty of this myself. 

     To carry our narcissism into sobriety implies that she has only achieved physical sobriety, and unfortunately, achieving physical sobriety alone is not a tremendous accomplishment. It is just the very beginning. It is just a clinical event to expel the body of poison. To rid the addict of the spiritual and emotional filth which lies underneath the addiction is an entirely different undertaking. Drugs and alcohol are just a side-show, a byproduct of a much deeper and significant problem. The problem with the addict is not drugs, it is who they are and who they have become. We are very sick people spiritually and emotionally. Thus, all of the work begins AFTER achieving sobriety. 

     Therefore, she must engage in rigorous and lifelong spiritual and moral action. Since the problem with addiction is selfishness, the logical cure is to be unselfish, to get out of ourselves, to serve others and to give back. I would strongly recommend she engage in the Step process, but it must be done wholeheartedly, thoroughly and fearlessly. 99% = 0. The actions laid out in the Big Book will change the life of anyone. The 4th Step alone serves to expel and become accountable for an entire lifetime of resentment, fear and other spiritual and emotional poison. Furthermore, making amends to those we have hurt serves to humble us. Working with others and being deferent to God are other actions that induce a more humble attitude and frame of mind. The Steps are no joke. They involve tremendous ‘other-centered’ work and action. This will rid her of her self-absorption. 

     As far as telling her she is self-absorbed, just tell her. Her hostile reaction is pure proof that it is the truth. And if the sober addict still hates the truth, they are no better at all. 

     Thank you so much for the kind words and for reaching out. God bless you.

2 thoughts on “Comment/Response on Carrying Self-Absorption Into Sobriety

  1. My husband died of a drug overdose. Not only was he being prescribed medication, family members were allowing him to buy theirs. Though he fought these demons daily, I miss him. Your posts are spot on with the life I lived with him for over 20 years. I wish he had taken the time and effort to read them too.

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