If you’re addicted to alcohol, someone has undoubtedly questioned your willpower.

People will tell you that you need the willpower to overcome your addiction.

But is that really true?

Willpower is definitely something you can use when you started drinking. When it’s a decision between one or two drinks, it’s all up to you. Sure, I want two, but I know I should only have one. So one it is. That’s willpower.

But when you’re addicted to alcohol, the decision to drink is much less of a decision. It’s more like an automatic need. It’s kind of like breathing.

Still, it would be naive to say that willpower is nonexistent in the recovery process. Once you’ve decided to start a rehab program, you’re going to have to start making some conscious decisions again.

Willpower’s Role in Alcohol Recovery

The first weeks of alcohol recovery typically take some willpower, but it’s more a commitment to the program. Especially if you’re enrolled in a rehab facility, you don’t have the choice to drink. But once you’re out, it’s going to take some willpower to keep your momentum going.

Twelve-step programs require the addict to recognize that they are powerless over alcohol. This is because alcoholism is truly a disease, and the addict actually has lost control. It’s in the surrender that many people find their power.

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study found that people who kept open minds were more goal-focused and motivated than those who declared definitive objectives (e.g. “I’m doing this”). The freedom to choose seemed to be a more effective motivator than the obligation of declaring an outcome.

So, this study sheds some light on how the 12-step alcohol treatment program is so effective when they rely on what seems to be the opposite of willpower.

In reality, even in 12-step programs, recovery requires a leap of faith combined with the acceptance of the problem and the willingness to take responsibility. There’s definitely some willpower mixed in there. It’s not the entire equation, but it plays a very large role in recovery from alcoholism. Without it, it’s impossible to succeed.

When you’ve reached the point where you can admit you have a problem, there’s a good chance that alcoholism has already taken a great deal from you. Alcoholism impacts lives in so many devastating ways, and it can also cause disturbances to your overall health and wellbeing. Alcohol affects the quality of our sleep, relationships and finances. There’s almost nothing that alcohol can’t destroy, and given enough time and power in your life, it inevitably will.

Recovery is the only answer. But if you’re worried that you don’t have the willpower it takes to succeed in a rehabilitation program, you might be relieved to learn that recovery is about a lot more than just willpower. If it were that simple, rehabilitation programs for alcohol simply wouldn’t exist. Everyone would just use their willpower to stop drinking.

If you’re struggling with alcoholism, contact a professional in your area to start the process of recovery. Every day you remain addicted takes you one step further away from a healthy and happy life. With a little willpower and the right techniques, you can reclaim control over your life and stop letting alcohol destroy all that’s good.

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