Families of addiction who admit defeat reach the finish line sooner!

Giving up & asking for help is the key to lasting change

Learn what doesn’t work and why… plus, what to do differently for your addict/alcoholic family member

One of the most difficult things to accept is that your loved-one is sick beyond anything the family can do.

You know this because you’ve tried every possible thing to help but it’s simply not enough to get the person back to ‘normal’.

I know this too, because my family tried everything we could think of to save my little brother, but he still died in his addiction.

Admitting your family needs help is not being weak, it’s realistic!

Admitting that you need help is not an admission of failure or giving up, you are finally reaching the point in this disease where you recognize a need for help. That’s all!, which is a very good thing.

Seeking help doesn’t mean you should have been able to solve this problem on your own (like you have solved so many other challenges). It simply means that you understand addiction & behavioral disorders are very complex issues which require professionals who have personal ‘lived’ experience with these same issues.

If you were dealing with cancer you wouldn’t hesitate to call-on professionals to save a life. Dealing with addiction can be a little tricky because a primary characteristic is bad behavior, but, it is also a brain-disease which requires a recovery process that encompasses the entire person- mind-body-soul-spirit

The behavior is so bad, must be a moral issue

It's easy to believe you are dealing with a moral breakdown within the addict or alcoholic because their behavior can be so revolting, at times. 

Most families address what they see the most, the bad behavior;
Families tend to believe that if they can make the addict/alcoholic's life more comfortable, then they will want to stop the madness.

This thinking only works with rationale thinking humans - the addict/alcoholic does not perceive the world the same way... yet!

Examples of things families do when trying to save the life of their loved-one… and rarely, if ever, works!

“We’ll get them back on their feet, by”

  • Taking them back to church
  • Buying a new car (or fix the old one)
  • Pay-off all their debts to give them a clean start
  • Pay rent for another 6 months
  • Enroll them back into school (and pay for it)
  • Buy new clothes
  • Encourage them to change friends
  • Send them to a short-term rehab for a “quick-fix”
  • Pay all the lawyer fees
  • Immediately post bail

And, by doing so, the family unwittingly takes away all responsibility from the addict/alcoholic to have to change anything. The addict/alcoholic literally gets away with all the bad behavior, poor decision-making, and, horrible coping skills, as of they have truly been a victim (they just want you think they are victims, that’s how they manipulate).

The take-away is that the addict/alcoholic never changes by being made more comfortable because they don’t HAVE to change.

It’s only a matter of time before the addict/alcoholic does what their brain is programmed to do… Drink, use drugs, and, self-destruct!

This cycle of ‘doing good’ followed by ‘doing bad’ has left many family members (and the addict/alcoholic) extremely confused.

No amount of ‘propping-up-the-addict’ with external comforts will make any difference, anymore than you could buy a cancer patient a brand new home to cure them.

Accountability is a foundational key to lasting recovery and takes time to implement… and, usually doesn’t come from the family, at least in the beginning. Families are too emotionally charged, professionals are needed for such a task who can teach both addict/alcoholic AND families how to develop an accountable relationship.

I’ll give you a teaser and then I have to get back to our topic of the day

Dear Families of addict/alcoholics, please stop doing for your loved-one what they should be doing for them-self. Do not do anything for them that they didn’t earn

you can read much more on this topic at www.justinslighthouse.com

  • Stop making phone calls they should be making
  • Stop paying for cell phone bills if they won’t even stay in touch
  • Don’t buy anything unless they have first shown improvement (families tend to believe the promise of better behavior BEFORE any has been exhibited)
  • Stop cleaning up their messes

I hope you noticed that the primary words are “Don’t & Stop“.

If you really want to achieve lasting recovery for your loved-one, you need the guidance of professionals who have been exactly where you are, right now.

Don’t do anything without guidance – stop feeling your way through this process, it isn’t working!

If your loved-one had cancer you’d be calling the Oncologist 8 times a day to find out what to do next. With addiction-recovery, we all think we can handle it. Well, it’s not getting handled or you wouldn’t have read this far.

There are professionals out there, myself included, who have made all the same mistakes but who now have the expertise to lead you and your addict/alcoholic through this process, and come out on the other side.

I have dedicated my life to helping families avoid the mistake that my family made so that your situation doesn’t have to end like ours did.

For the past 18 years we have helped thousands of families and can help your, the exact same way.

It’s a brain disease, not a moral issue!

Bad behavior is just a symptom

So, when we stop treating addiction/alcoholism as a behavioral problem, and start treating it as a symptom of a disease, guess what happens…?

You got it, the problem goes away!

The solution for changing the pathways of the brain, the pre-programmed parts of the brain that leads the addict/alcoholic to drink and use, even when life is going well, lies in slowly changing the behavior through systematic, daily routine of consistency, learning, and applying what they are learning.

As the addict/alcoholic begins to change their own behavior, by following instructions, and, this usually involves activities that the addict/alcoholic sees as “boring”, or “stupid”, or, “a waste of time”.

Keep this in mind, if the addict/alcoholic knew how to fix themselves they would’ve already done it! Of course the addict/alcoholic sees the solution as boring, stupid, and a waste of time. They don’t have a clue what the solution looks like!

The addict/alcoholic brain has been under construction for some time, now. Long before they began to drink or use. Achieving lasting results in recovery requires a longer runway than most traditional treatments can offer.

Over time, typically 6-8 months of total sobriety, consistent daily routine, and learning an enormous amount of new information about themselves, the pathways in the brain actually heal. The brain even creates new pathways.

Science shows us that the brain takes 12-18 months to heal

What this all means of that the brain gets re-programmed by changing behavior until one day the default-behavior of reaching for booze or drugs during good or bad times, is transformed into completely new coping mechanisms, of which drinking and drugging are no longer on the option-table.

Addicts/alcoholics literally default into drinking and using because that’s what their brain tells them to do. Changing these defaults takes time but success is extremely predictable as long as the patient invests in the time.

I’ve told our residents for years,

“All you have to do is show up, keep showing up, and don’t quit. Everything else works out”!

Recovery is always achieved when you understand which tools to use.

Unfortunately, traditional treatment models are not designed for lasting change. They are built to give the patient short-term relief without instilling any real weapons to fight the fight of addiction/alcoholism!

The greatest success in recovery comes from long-term programs

Families have already invested year after year, dollar after dollar to save their addict/alcoholic, to no avail. Some families run out of time and their loved-one dies in the process of trying to save them.

If you are a family still in the fight, then believe me when I tell you, in spite of how hopeless your situation seems, it is absolutely not a hopeless case.

Once you put that down that hammer and pick up a scalpel, you will get entirely different results.

I, of course, suggest, Justin’s Lighthouse long-term recovery program, where we don’t hear many stories of relapses from our alumni.

The calls we receive from our graduates are about how they are now 10+ years sober, raising their own family, owning their own businesses, and have learned how to be free from all compulsions… all because they were willing to invest 12 months of their life into completely changing their life.. and that’s what they get, a completely new life!

Families have their own issues

Yes, family members are also dealing with their own issues, including resentments, fears, suspicions, anger, and more, within an already complex disorder. Family members are good with putting their own hurts on the back-burner to focus on the addict/alcoholic… but what about your pain?

At Justin’s lighthouse we include the whole family throughout the entire process of recovery. Not just a “family day” but every week we work with families apart from the addict/alcoholic and sometimes with their addict/alcoholic. We want everybody to heal!

In many ways, addiction is much more painful and confusing for families than if they were dealing with cancer. With addiction or alcoholism, you never know where you stand. As long as you’re abiding by the demands of the addict/alcoholic then all is ‘fine’, but the second you say ‘NO’, then all heck breaks loose.

Hearing the word ‘No’ is like  a cross to a vampire

This mini drama of saying YES when you mean ‘NO’, simply to avoid a melt-down and keep a little peace in the house is the very behavior (on both sides) that will keep the situation getting worse, and, the addict closer to jail, institutions, or death.

There is never a good time to get help but it’s always the right time! The addict will tell you they don’t want professional help, they just need a little more money, or a job, a car, etc, to make their life better. if you could just provide those things then they’ll promise to ‘get better’.

Stop falling for this manipulation! That’s not how addicts get better, and you know this because you’ve already been down that road, several times.

Never forget this…

If Addicts had within themselves the emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and psychological development to change their lives in their own power, they would have already done it.

lasting-change must come from the outside, from professionals who can offer lots of new information, space to heal, room for resistance along the way, until ultimately a complete transformation into a new person.

Whether you call Justin’s Lighthouse, or somebody else, please ask for help today.


Thank you for reading this far, and I invite you check out my other articles.


Dr. Miles

The madness stops when the family says;

“we love you but we aren’t willing to help you self-destruct”

Check out more articles on our blog/

Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery/Bog


Miles K Lewis, PhD, C-PRSS

Recovery Ranger keeping you informed to help you on your journey of self-discovery


The only 3 things you ever get angry about

…which one applies to you?

Your fears aren’t what you think…Wait until to hear this!

Overcome your anger by understanding your fears!

Anger covers up fears, which leads to anxiety

… here’s how you stop it

Anger is the result of an unrecognized fearPeriod! I’m going to break this down, so stay with me.

If anger is a symptom of not recognizing our fear, then we really need to look closer at our fears… Resolve your fears and guess what happens? You will be a whole-lot less angry!

Anger comes out when you are perceiving that you are losing control of your experience, or situation. It may be your own performance towards something, somebody else’s behavior (or lack thereof), or anything in your situation that is threatening your expectation of control.

Let’s dig deeper into fears

We all have them, but left unattended to roll around in our minds we become overwhelmed with anxiety and searching for something in our environment we can control. This a defensive move and keeps us focused on changing something outside of ourselves. We need to be looking inside and I’ll show you how.

Reacting defensively only offers short-term relief and is the very thing that keeps us racing to the next ‘busy task’ to the next. Trying to fly through life, faster and faster, so we don’t have to feel anything is not a sustainable solution.

Keeping ourselves so busy so we don’t have to feel anything leads to many emotional deficiencies, not to mention the medical issues.

handling ‘fears’ improperly leads to depression & anxiety

Breaking down your fears in great-detail

It’s important to understand that every human-being uses the same process mental process when handling information. Life is just a series of processing information with your experience. How each of us interpret that information is what makes the difference between peace or anger.

You must change your perspective. You don’t actually have an anger problem, you have a “I don’t know how to identify my fears”, problem

The 3 things we ever get angry about can
be found in the 3 basic fears

I know it’s hard to believe and many of you will test me on this, but, we all have only 3 basic fears, or, in other words, we only get angry about 3 things.

Identify your fears, quickly, and your anger will go way down while your productivity, happiness, and peace, will go way up!

Simple formula for Anger, address your fears…

Begin by thinking of the last time you were angry. What you were afraid that you weren’t getting?

Was it appreciation, respect, attention, or, some accomplishment?

Now, go deeper…

Fear # 1

Not getting something you want

This may apply to material things but what’s really causing anger, generally relates to more emotional things.

I want you think seriously think about this for a moment and ask yourself this question;

The last time I felt angry which of these was I afraid of not-getting”

  • Unconditional love
  • Belonging
  • Approval
  • Honesty
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Encouragement
  • Support
  • Validation

Having an experience where you are believing that you will not be getting one of these above items from your experience will cause immediate and increasing anxiety.

By understanding this about yourself, you are empowering yourself to work though difficult situations that normally leave you frustrated, fearful, and extremely anxious

Fear # 2

Losing something you thought you had

Now, do it again, ask yourself this question;

The last time I felt anger which of these was I afraid of losing”

  • Unconditional love
  • Belonging
  • Approval
  • Honesty
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Encouragement
  • Support
  • Validation

I personally believe that the fear of losing something we thought we had can be more devastating because it forces us to deal with loss- having had it but now losing it.

Remember, we may not actually be losing anything, but the FEAR OF LOSING IT IS SO GREAT TO CAUSE TREMENDOUS ANXIETY!

Once you’ve identified what your actual fears are, then you can have honest conversations with yourself about responsibilities and outcomes.

What you must immediately stop doing is waiting for the world, or someone else to change something. The fears are inside of you and must be faced there.

Fear # 3

Getting caught for something you did or said

This relates to embarrassing situations, inappropriate behaviors, irresponsible decisions, and, so on.

The old “I was only joking” is a classic response to fear #3, getting caught for something we did or said: You are saying that it’s not your fault for being inappropriate, it’s the other person’s fault for not ‘getting your joke‘.

Big difference! taking responsibility for yourself is the key to living a fear-less life

Here’s an example of how to look at your fears

Imagine your friend has invited you to go out to dinner. You get excited about it, going to try a new restaurant, plan your whole wee around it… But, then, at the last minute, the friend cancels.

Your response may be anger. Even if the friend has a good excuse, you are now mad because your friend cancelled on you. You may even talk about how you planned your week around this dinner, say something like “this isn’t fair”, and so on..

You can escalate your angry pretty quickly, but it’s really your fears that you’re reacting to. Remember, anger is just our way of trying to re-gain a sense of control of a situation that now feels beyond our control.

So, you’re actually dealing with the fear of not getting something, or, fear of losing something you though you had

Such, as; the fellowship with the friend, the attention you would’ve gotten in that new outfit, the sense of belonging, support, security with a old friend, the break from a hard wee, etc…

If you will stop and change your perspective with each situation, you’ll find yourself to more empathetic with others while acting more gentle with yourself!

I truly hope this information was helpful for you or someone close to you. Please contact our organization of you need any help.

Our services:

Mental-health, substance abuse, behavioral issues, co-dependency


Dr. Miles K. Lewis

Director, Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery program

www.justinslighthouse.com (click here)

Recovery Ranger Videos / YouTube (click here)


Anxiety- how it cripples you and what to do about it

Justin’s Lighthouse recovery program

“Todays level of anxiety would have been institutionalized 50 years ago”.

American Psychiatric Association

Anxiety is the number 1 cause of suicide

… and, a major factor in addiction & alcoholism

Anxiety, or, the inability to handle anxiety is the driving force behind addictions, alcoholism, compulsions, and ultimately suicides.

Shocking statistics!

A recent report from the American Psychiatric Association indicated that the level of Anxiety the average person of today is experiencing, is at such a high degree, and consistent, that 50 years ago the same person would’ve been considered for psychiatric inpatient care… The “Nut-house”

This doesn’t have to be this way!

Learning how to change our perspective is the key to living free from this anxiety-craze. We have become much too self-absorbed, too focused on external things, and have lost touch with who we truly are.

Anxiety is rampant in Addiction

Our current struggles and frustrations with life’s situations, early recovery, or experiencing situations that seem too much to bare, are merely an obsession in our minds.

We are constantly analyzing ourselves; our thoughts & actions, – disappointments – regrets – what we think others are thinking about us & what others may have done because of us (to harm us or offend us).When the world is not exactly as we wish it to be, we literally become obsessed in our minds.

This is ANXIETY! It drives us to want to keep ourselves extremely busy with task after task to avoid feeling so anxious. This behavior only works as long as we can keep ourselves busy.

Eventually, we run out of things to touch, move, rearrange, clean-out, purchase, sell, paint, build, etc…

A mind obsessed with it-self

eventually destroys itself!

As we dwell on some mental or emotional conflict in our life, small situations that cause us fear, or, some fact about somebody else’s life, we develop a mindset based on a diseased attitude. We become critical of ourselves and others.

We can be constantly focused on what we are wanting, how we are feeling, how we could feel different, how other’s are thinking or feeling, what we must do to make others think or feel different, and, quite often playing the ‘what-if’ game with ourselves.

Wanting to cause everything in our life to work out for our own selfish desires, we, in essence, become our own god… And, we make other people & things are own god, as well.

“As long as everything in the world works out the way I want it to be, THEN, and only then, will I be okay!”

Dr. Miles K. Lewis, Justin’s Lighthouse

Example of wrong thinking that leads to high-anxiety

Do you believe you can change?

Can you imagine a life when you will actually be able to handle the imperfections of life and others while STILL keeping your own sanity and anxiety under your control?

Yes, this is possible! Healthy people live this way every single day!

Your job is to stop trying to figure out HOW to make the world run your way, but instead, learn new coping skills and come to understand the ‘why’ of your current anxieties.  

In order to discover the ‘whys’ that keep you tied up in knots are typically rooted in basic fears. An honest assessment of how you think can alleviate most of your anxieties and put you on track for a life-time of peace.

How to assess your own thinking

All human-beings operate within 3 basic fears. Once you understand this about yourself, then, managing your own anxiety, or stress level becomes part of your daily routine… But, it will only help you if you are honest with yourself!

You will recognize that these 3 basic fears also represent the only 3 things we get angry about. I know this sounds too simple but it will actually require some deeper, personal exploration on your part.

Let’s look at the 3 BASIC FEARS…

1. Not getting something you want

2. Losing something you thought you had

3. Getting caught for something you did or said

We can be bombarded with these throughout the day, reacting to them in self-defeating ways but not even realize what’s happening. All we know is that we are ‘feeling more anxious’… To deal with an increase in anxiety, most people try to stuff that feeling, go faster, add to their workload, get even more busy.

This method of dealing with anxiety is not working!

Going faster doesn’t lessen anxiety, it only buries it for a while. As soon as we begin to slow down, here comes the anxiety! So we drink, use drugs, blame the world, shop online at all hours of the night (or day), Until we finally realize that everything we’ve done to deal with our own anxiety has not worked, and by now, we’ve fallen to new lows.

Let’s take a deeper look at the 3 basic fears

Fear 1: Not getting something you want

This may apply to material things but what’s really causing so much anxiety generally relates to more emotional things.

I want you think seriously think about this for a moment and ask yourself this question; ‘The last time I felt anxious which of these was I afraid of not-getting”

  • Unconditional love
  • Belonging
  • Approval
  • Honesty
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Encouragement
  • Support
  • Validation

Having an experience where you are believing that you will not be getting one of these above items from your experience will cause immediate and increasing anxiety.

By understanding this about yourself, you are empowering yourself to work though difficult situations that normally leave you frustrated, fearful, and extremely anxious

Fear 2: Losing something you thought you had

Now, do it again, ask yourself this question; ‘The last time I felt anxious which of these was I afraid of losing”

  • Unconditional love
  • Belonging
  • Approval
  • Honesty
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Encouragement
  • Support
  • Validation

I personally believe that the fear of losing something we thought we had can be more devastating because it forces us to deal with loss- having had it but now losing it.

Remember, we may not actually be losing anything, but the FEAR OF LOSING IT IS SO GREAT TO CAUSE TREMENDOUS ANXIETY!

Once you’ve identified what your actual fears are, then you can have honest conversations with yourself about responsibilities and outcomes.

What you must immediately stop doing is waiting for the world, or someone else to change something. The fears are inside of you and must be faced there.

Fear 3: Getting caught for something you did or said

This relates to embarrassing situations, inappropriate behaviors, and even, Irresponsibilities.

Mental obsessions are centered in self…

What we want to happen for ourselves, and what we want to happen for others or from others;

“If I could make this situation work out the way I want it to, only then, can I be happy”.

We deceive ourselves into believing that we know what’s best for everyone and until everything works out to our satisfaction. By doing so, we delay our own joy & happiness.

The lies of self-deception

The great lie we tell ourselves is that we can’t be happy & joyous right now.

We won’t accept that trials & testing’s are a natural part of life and can be used by God to grow and mature us in Christ.

Contrary to popular teaching, GOD does not cause difficulties in our life so we can be refined. he may use them but he did not order them!

The act of Jesus was a once for all event. There is no further refining that is required (study God’s grace).

However, we do a very good job of causing our own difficulties, but God is faithful to bring us back onto His path.

IF, we are diligent and are willing to do work, God will not simply take away our anxieties, He will surround us with the people and experiences to teach us how NOT to live anxious life (Jesus said “peace and Joy come from the scripture”).

We don’t know peace because we don’t know God

When we are focused on self we tend to allow our feelings to dictate our behavior. As Christians, we are no longer to live by feelings but rather by God’s will (for starters, simple daily responsibilities will begin to move us in the right direction).

Obedience, based on the word of God, which is the will of God, should dictate our behavior, regardless of how we’re feeling and regardless of our situation…

Instead of playing God, we are to trust God. Trust that, at the moment of surrender, God will “cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, for us” (Rom 8:28)

Our contentment in all circumstances is dependent upon our obedient response to God in our thoughts, words, and actions (NOT, getting everything we want at every moment). We must move from the “Feelings” stage to the “Doing” stage of Willingness and Obedience, Without any regard for our own feelings, or other’s feelings.

Our own anxieties and mental obsessions are based on our regrets from the past and fears of the future.

We are to remove ourselves from the throne, surrender our circumstances to God and allow Him to work in our lives and exert His will, as God on the throne…

This moves us from being self centered to Christ centered.

Whenever we are anxious, un-easy, frustrated, restless, etc… we are saying “God, I don’t trust your plan for my life and I really don’t think you have complete control of my life- I think I better handle this one on my own”… and, that’s why we have no peace.

We are only trusting in ourselves, our circumstances, other people’s words or behavior.

Preoccupation with self is sin

When we take our focus off of ourselves in every daily situation, how we feel and what we want, and put it where it belongs – onto others, God will take over our situation, change our desires and begin to work through us to help others.

As a result, we become less obsessed with our own minds and more loving towards our neighbors.

Follow these principles if you want a peaceful and productive life!

We must first love God and ourselves, then our neighbors as ourselves. This only comes through genuine seeking of something much greater than we our or can even imagine… God the Father!

Dr. Miles K. Lewis


Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery


How Addict’s & Alcoholics don’t even know they are faking their recovery

Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery

“People who relapse were never in ‘recovery’, they were faking it but didn’t know it”

Dr. Miles, Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery

Every addict or alcoholic knows how difficult it is to achieve lasting recovery. They try to follow instructions, try to make changes, they even ‘surrender” their hearts-out, until BAM! they end up relapsing, anyway!

Relapse, again! What happened? How could this happen? Everything was going well, how did they find themselves back at the liquor store, the dope dealer, or, Doctor shopping, once again?

In this post, I’m going to explain, in detail, how relapse happens, even though the addict/alcoholic tried everything in their power not to relapse.

Keep this  in mind, in order for any person to change anything about their own life, they must make tangible changes. Changes that literally make you different in your thinking and behavior. 

Recovery from drugs, alcohol, or any other addiction is no different. Unless real tangible changes are made and then solidified, the person is not really a ‘changed-person’.

please read through to the solution

I’m going to show you the details you are missing

For example, if you were concerned about your weight and really wanted to ‘make some changes’, you would do very specific things that would cause your weight to decrease. However, if you only made some of those changes while you were at work, but then, once you get home you eat wrong foods, stop exercising, and otherwise engage the same behaviors that got you to an uncomfortable weight, in the first place.

An old A.A. adage “half-measures avail us nothing”

Addicts/Alcoholics have a tendency to give the illusion they are making changes while continuing to hang onto many of the old behaviors that keep them sick.

What does this really mean… It means that in order to achieve a life-long enjoyment of recovery from drugs or alcohol, we must not skimp on the details. Let’s face it, Addicts/Alcoholics are masters of skimping, short-cutting, and manipulating our way through life. The big problem here is that once in recovery, we do the same thing with ourselves, and short-cutting ourselves will not get you that new life you’ve been dreaming-of!

please read through to the solution

What goes wrong in addiction and how to fix it

Addiction is feelings disease. Every decision made by any addict/alcoholic is driven by their feelings. This is old defense mechanism, which you can learn more about by reading or viewing some of my other materials.

In the early recovery process, the addict/alcoholic has not had enough to solidify any new behaviors. There has only been enough to learn some new behaviors and then display them while other recovery people are around to watch.

However, in the early stages of recovery the addict brain still views the world in the exact same way; 

  • Look for the least past of resistance
  • Look for the easiest things to do
  • Pretend to be serious to avoid conflict
  • Constantly thinking of ways to short-cut the process
  • believe they are unique and therefore not really required to follow every suggestion
  • Learn the recovery lingo and practice saying it, to sound good to others

What’s happening here is the addict/alcoholic may be sober but nothing has changed, yet. Real change takes time, and then more time… There are many factors involved in any change process. For starters, when it comes to addiction and alcoholism, it takes the brain 12-18 months to actually heal. 

It’s ridiculous to think that any addict seeking recovery is going to be able to grasp what recovery is truly about within a span of 30, 60, or 90 days. (the avg treatment model time-frame).

During the illusion of Recovery the addict doesn’t even recognize their own short-cutting, or, half- measures behavior. To them, it’s just another day on this planet and they are simply behaving and thinking the way they always do.

please read through to the solution

Addiction is driven by feelings that come from faulty thinking!

If I said to you; “Hey, there’s a tree that fell over on a car”, you wouldn’t feel much about it. 

However, if I said: “Hey,, there’s a tree that fell onto your car”, you would instantly feel all kinds of things, simply based on how you are now thinking of the same situation that a moment before had no impact on your feelings.

All humans feel because of how they are thinking… The addict-brain personalizes every experience, thus, driving their faulty decision making.

The primary thing that must be changed – that’s absolutely necessary for every recovering addict/alcoholic – Is their thinking!

(please read my pervious post on ‘how treatment fails addicts’-it will help you understand how long it takes for thinking to change).

Putting too much value in external things

In early recovery, the addict/alcoholic goes through the motions quite well and loos pretty good on paper. They will follow most instructions, read suggested materials, and even go to support group meetings… As long as somebody is watching, as long as there is a little pressure to “live-right”.

The addict/alcoholic is focused on external things, looking good to impress others, which allows them to avoid conflict. This is a comfortable place for every addict/alcoholic. Appearing to do the right things while others are watching has been mastered by every single addict/alcoholic in the universe

please read through to the solution

Now, for the real problem

The addict/alcoholic is changing behavior but their thinking is exactly the same-unchanged, and completely focused on the externals. 

Living a life of denial is the illusion of recovery. Tremendous value is placed upon;

  • other people’s praise, approval, and acknowledgment
  • re-gaining a job, car, apartment
  • attending church
  • attending 12-step meetings
  • working recovery assignments
  • Only working on things they want to do, avoid things they don’t want
  • giving other people rides to support groups
  • doing service work
  • and, so on…

These external behaviors are positive characteristics and certainly makes one feel good about themself. After all, self-esteem is built through accomplishment.

But, this is all the addict/alcoholic is doing… looking good on the outside but very little internal change is taking place. The addict themself believes they will eventually “work” or “behave” their way into a whole new life by performing external tasks for everyone to see, while ignoring the deeper internal changes that are even more important.

The addict is relying on the same thinking that led them to self-destruct, in the first place, which is pressured filled living, to say the least. Trying to be perfect, do all the right things, don’t upset anyone else, seek  out praise for a job well done…. 

Ultimately, it comes crashing down because the same internal defects that led to the last self-destruction period is brewing and about to explode.

As the feelings from the external accolades subside (and they always do), those internal defects come to the surface and manifest as;

  • Anxiety
  • Complaining about the imperfections of others
  • Poor judgement
  • Impulsivity
  • Perfectionism
  • Overly critical of self & others
  • Ignoring rules
  • Become more secretive
  • Tell everyone they’re doing fine

After attempting to manage this downfall unsuccessfully, the addict/alcoholic relapses, again, because that is their default-mode. That’s what always happens under distress. Even though it seemed like things were going well, they weren’t. Nothing had really changed, it just looked that way on the outside.

THIS IS THE CYCLE OF DYSFUNCTION and it happens every time until real internal change is allowed to take place.

Solution here!

What I’m about to tell you is literally the single most important factor that determines success or failure in every addict/alcoholic’s journey for recovery.

Real change in recovery comes about when the addict/alcoholic practices surrendering, giving themself over to something bigger than they are, while also learning how to accept the world exactly the way it is… Let me give you some examples on how this is developed;

  • Actually reading recovery materials as a daily routine and a growth experience, not so you can say you read your book today.
  • Practicing acceptance, actually allowing others to be who they are (remember all that complaining? that’s not acceptance!)
  • Investing time to slow-down and actually examine yourself, identifying your own defects
  • Stop trying to be perfect-You only pretend to have it all together because you’re scared to death somebody will find you out… Nobody cares, people love you anyway!
  • Actually talking to your higher power everyday- Stop telling people you want to have a deeper spiritual life and actually chase it!
  • Work on things you don’t want to do because they’re important, and watch how fast your life changes
  • Spend more listening, following, learning, and applying, than you do pretending to be the smartest, hardest working, most perfect person in recovery
  • Get rid of your junk! People who want to go faster in early recovery are only avoiding their life-time of demons… Slow down and face them!

In my practice, I have seen this play out consistently for over 18 years. As a recovering addict, myself, I have also engaged in every behavior I have shared with you in this post.

The crazy thing about recovery is that it’s very predictable. It’s not as complicated as some professionals make it out to be. If a person invests themself into working through the internal things, then, the external things fall into place… 100% of the time!

If the newly sober person rushes to achieve status, look great on the outside while avoiding the internals, they always fail.

Nobody can out-work or out-pace their past. Until they slow down, and, I mean really slow, to be able to listen, absorb, and surrender to a whole new way of thinking and behaving, they simply won’t maintain recovery.

Many, many addict/alcoholics try to ‘hurry up’ and get back to some state of normal, as if that will mean the past never happened… It just doesn’t work that way.

Each recovery addict/alcoholic has to take the internal things just as serious as the external things or the house won’t stand for long!

A True Case Study

Recently, I worked with a young man who had been to 3 different drug rehabs over a 3 year period. When he arrived at Justin’s Lighthouse he was upbeat, excited about the prospect of change, and quickly got down to the business of “proving” how serious he was about his recovery. After-all, he’d already been to 3 rehabs so he  pretty well knew all the information, he just needed time to chill and re-start.. Uh-hem!

I knew he was going to have a problem slowing down. I impressed upon him, daily, that if he hadn’t been able to “work” himself into staying sober the past 3 years, it was pretty unlikely it would happen now. 

This young man was actually a hard worker, as long as it was something he wanted to do. He looked for any project that would keep his hands busy so he could avoid the important things that would make significant differences in his life, such as; slowing down, developing spiritually, follow all instructions, not just some of them, etc…

Eventually, his quest for the “perfect” recovery caught up with him. Soon he began complaining about his group-mates, how he was “the only one taking recovery seriously”, and all that stuff I outline above in this post.

When redirected back to his own recovery process; “did your read your spiritual material this morning? Why did you stop taking notes in lectures? How many times have you appealed to your higher power, today? Which things that you have learned in this program could you use to deal with your growing anxiety?”, and more… His answers were typical in that he didn’t have a solid answer. He was now at the point that if he could just go bac to school and not have to deal with this “recovery stuff” anymore, then,, he would be great.

Needless to say, I’ve seen this scenario more times than I care to discuss, however, the good news is that because our program is a long-term recovery program, every addict/alcoholic is forced to work through this early recovery resistance while they are still in the program! Success!

In short-term programs, this resistance kicks in right about the time when they are discharged, leaving the very newly sober person heading for disaster!

I’m please to say, 90% of the time, we are able to push a client like this one through to the other side, where they finally surrender and gain a whole new way of living.

The bottom line in achieving lasting recovery

Do the things you want to do because they are important. Addiction is driven by impulses and instant gratification, so by developing the discipline to do the things you don’t want to do, you are surrendering yourself into the solution- You are growing up!

If you only do the things you want to do, that’s not change, that’s how children behave. Recovery is as much about growing up than it is staying sober.

If you or a loved-one is struggling in their addiction, you can us anytime, at Justin’s Lighthouse. We are located in Oklahoma City and we help families from all over the U.S.


Dr. Miles K. Lewis

Recovery Ranger/YouTube recovery videos (click here)

Director, Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery program

www.justinslighthouse.com (click here)