Learned Helplessness and Addiction

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in Addiction, Helplessness |

Learned Helplessness and Addiction

Learned helplessness gets its origins from experiments on animals. Researches would put a creature in a situation where they were faced with unpleasant stimuli (circumstances) which they could not escape from no matter how hard they tried. Eventually the animals would accept they were helpless and stop trying to escape. Even after the researchers added in a way to escape the animals would fail to use it because they had become helpless.

So what does this have to do with learned helplessness and addiction?

Well, learned helplessness obviously involves feelings of powerlessness too. And when learned helplessness happens to a human it is when they have gotten the belief or idea in their head that they have no control over what happens to them anymore in the future and present. Humans feel powerless to control anything, specifically their destiny. So they just accept their situation for what it is no matter how bad or dark it is. For the addict this situation is using drugs and alcohol. But in order for an addict to get better they have to get past the learned helplessness and ask for help.

Learned helplessness can actually lead to addiction and vice versa.

From helplessness to addiction…

Any human being that feels powerless over their circumstances will look for an escape and some of them find it in the means of drugs and alcohol. The drugs and alcohol allow them to escape the discomfort of their situation. This person doesn’t realize that the drugs and alcohol are only going to compound their problems by creating another problem that will most likely end in death.

From addiction to helplessness…

People with addictions can learn helplessness along the way. This learned helplessness happens because of failed attempts to quit or control their drug and alcohol abuse. The person then gets the idea in their head that they have no choice but to just continue using drugs and alcohol because they have no control.

Learned helplessness and addiction can keep addicts sick for a long time. In order for an addict to break free from their addiction they must get past their denial to clearly see their life. Eventually all addicts will be unable to ignore their situation and they will be able to see clearly what they need to do to escape their circumstances. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and some addicts do just continue using and drinking.

Learned helplessness and addiction feed off each other by causing the addict to have low self-esteem, procrastinate, feel frustrated, incompetent, or just to give up. All of these things fuel the addiction while the addiction fuels the helplessness.

Luckily learned helplessness and addiction are both treatable. For addiction there is recovery and for learned helplessness there is the ability to learn the self-imposed limitations humans put on themselves so they can break free from them. This unlearning and recovery though can only happen when addict decides to get help.

Source: http://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-rehab/learned-helplessness-in-recovery/


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