Patience does not come easily to most people, especially those inclined to abuse alcohol and drugs. Studies have shown that a common trait of the majority of individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse issues is impatience. Their thinking is, “I want what I want when I want it, and I want it now.” They also often behave with impatience toward themselves and others because of unrealistic expectations. They feel disappointed, even despondent if life does not unfold as planned. Impatience also can stem from a judgmental attitude. This attitude of impatience then translates into poor impulse control, which opens the door to abuse of alcohol and drugs. The immediate, if false, sense of relief and satisfaction becomes more and more desirable. Soon addiction takes hold. This character trait can carry over into recovery. It is important to remember that addiction is a progressive disease. Recovery is progressive, too. Most treatment programs adopt the “one day at a time” philosophy in order to help people stay grounded in reality.
IMPATIENCE RELATED TO CONTROL ISSUES
Impatience is part of everyday life. Honking horns in traffic jams, toe-tapping and muttering complaints in long lines at a store, grumbling about slow service at a restaurant – all kinds of daily situations demonstrate that humans, apparently by nature, don’t like to wait. All of these scenarios involved false perceptions of control. We cannot control the rate at which traffic moves, but we may have the option of choosing a different route. We cannot make a line move faster, and we cannot improve service at a restaurant. What we can control is our own reactions and our own behavior. Learning what is in our scope of control is an important recovery concept. Recovery treatment helps people develop the awareness to choose whether to drink or use drugs or whether to explore another option to control their own behavior. Even though we live in a society that promotes instant gratification, the tools of recovery provide an avenue for a less stressful, more serene life.
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