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Being Willing to Be in the 10%

It’s a well-known and very sad fact that less than 10% of people who seek recovery from any form of addiction, including sugar and food, have long-term success with abstinence. There are several reasons for this. Addiction is a powerful mental disorder in which a deeply entrenched habit rules our impulses. In addition, we accept irrational and self-destructive behaviors in ourselves, feeling powerless to do anything about them.

Also, and quite importantly, while we may be willing to put the food (or alcohol or drug) down and walk away, we are unwilling to make the changes in our lives and our environments that would give recovery a fighting chance. I’m watching this happen to two women I know. They want to be abstinent, they keep putting down the food for a few days, but they won’t make the other changes that will let them leave the food alone. It seems too difficult to create a more peaceful home, leave an abusive boyfriend, step into leisure activities that would be more satisfying than TV and food. Even the idea of taking baby steps towards change remains in the realm of talk and not action.

At a recent workshop, I asked the 8 women present to rate their willingness to really and truly give up sugar and flour on a scale of 1 to 10. Only one woman was at 10. She has now been abstinent for a month. The next highest score was an 8. Most of the women were at 4 or 5. None of them are abstinent.

What will it take to get your willingness to a 10? What will it take to keep it there?

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