Many people seem to think that addicts and alcoholics are quite selfish, especially when they’re using. Chances are if you’ve had a loved one who is in active addiction, then you’ve experienced the selfishness of an addict firsthand. Maybe you’ve been lied to over and over or perhaps you’ve had things stolen from you, like money. Or maybe you’ve been yelled at or disrespected in some way by an addict or alcoholic.
Or maybe you’re the alcoholic or addict that has been operating in selfish mode for many years. You might not have even realized it, until the umpteenth person got in your face about it or you got into recovery and the topic came up time and time again.
Does Getting Into Recovery Help?
But what happens when an addict or alcoholic gets into recovery? Does just putting down the drink or drug change their behavior from selfish to unselfish? Not necessarily. Getting sober and clean is a wonderful thing, but if someone just puts down the addictive substance and doesn’t do any inner work regarding emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, chances are they’re just going to continue to be selfish.
The 12-step programs deal with this selfish nature pretty well. In fact, Steps four and five have the recovering addict or alcoholic begin to look at their character defects. Selfishness can be one of those character defects. If you ask most recovering alcoholics or addicts if they were selfish when they were using, many would say absolutely. It’s not that they wanted to be selfish, but they were anyway. It’s just part of the nature of addiction in general.
When they were in active addiction, they didn’t really have any regard for those that were around them. Their worlds were wrapped around themselves and their own selfish wants and needs. In fact, quite a many addicts and alcoholics will admit that they purposely latched onto those who were extra giving, so they could get what they wanted in terms of attention, money or drugs.
The Selfish Nature
Everyone can be selfish at times; it’s not just the alcoholic or addict. Even the Bible talks about mankind’s carnal or selfish nature that rears its ugly head from time to time. Of course, for the person knee deep in addiction, this ugly selfish monster can grow and grow, making life miserable for the addict and loved ones.
But back to the question: Why are alcoholics so selfish? Well, there are bound to be many reasons and each person will have a different background story regarding their particular reasons. Some of them might have had a horrible childhood and developed some poor coping skills growing up. Maybe they craved unconditional love from their parents, but were neglected or abused. This could easily cause someone to grow up with a chip on their shoulder, and feel entitled to get what they want anyway they can get it.
Think about this. The alcoholic is drinking to numb enormous emotional pain. Year after year they keep drinking, even thought they may not want to. In fact, chances are they don’t want to keep drinking, and they’ve tried to quit over and over again to no avail. Due to their failure to quit, they’re pretty miserable and misery can certainly make one act in selfish ways.
But there are alcoholics that aren’t that selfish too. There are those that may be the happier drunks at the bar buying other people drink after drink. Or lavishing expensive gifts for their loved ones out of their guilt of drinking so often. Still, they’re giving out of selfish reasons.
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Will Alcoholics Always Be Selfish?
Best case scenario is that an alcoholic will recognize their addiction to alcohol and get into some sort of recovery path. Maybe they’ll get into a treatment facility for alcoholism or see a therapist. Or maybe they’ll attend a 12 Step meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous. They will be able to stop drinking and then hopefully they’ll begin to deal with the selfishness issue.
The reality is that just putting down the drink won’t be enough to deal with the selfishness. There may be a host of negative emotions to contend with too. A great way for any recovering alcoholic to begin working toward living a less selfish life is to get into counseling for a session. There are counselors that can help recovering alcoholics begin to deal with issues they’ve never dealt with – all the way back to childhood.
And it’s going to take more than just one or two counseling sessions. So many people in recovery think that somehow by magic they’re character defects, including selfishness, will just disappear when they stop drinking. It doesn’t work that way. Becoming less selfish takes time and effort, and a good bit of dealing with the submerged part of the emotional iceberg.
Will All Recovering Alcoholics Become Less Selfish?
Unfortunately, no. Not all recovering alcoholics will be willing to address their selfishness. In reality, there will be some super selfish people, including narcissists, that will continue being selfish while sober. Some people call these “dry drunks”, because they tend to be just as selfish and mean sober as they were when they were drunks.
How To Become Less Selfish
There will be various paths to becoming less selfish. As mentioned earlier, counseling is a feasible way to learn how to be less selfish. Others tend to read books on the topic, whether it’s personal development or spiritual books. The 12 Step programs will encourage those in recovery to hand over their defects, including selfishness, to a Higher Power. Religious folks will encourage them to ask God for help. Buddhists may encourage meditation and following their eight fold path to enlightenment. There are plenty of avenues to address selfishness.
Are You Struggling With Alcoholism Or Selfishness?
If you’re struggling with alcoholism, you may also be struggling with selfishness. Or you may be in recovery, yet still feel and act selfish. Good news is that hope and help is available for you to recover from alcoholism and selfishness. It’s going to take some time and effort, and learning some good tools, but it’s possible.
If you’re struggling, reach out for help. There are treatment centers, counselors, and 12 Step groups ready and willing to assist you get free from the grip of alcoholism and selfishness. You don’t have to stay stuck in the muck any longer. Simply admit that you’re struggling and reach out for help. There is a beautiful life on the other side of addiction, and it’s your time to start walking a path to get there.
Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-276-2886 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.
Chapters Capistrano strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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