When Easier is Not the Better Option

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(Robert Frost, 1916)

Recovery from addiction is one of the hardest things a person can do and there are really no shortcuts. The addicted person has to put in the work. Recovery can be difficult emotionally, socially, and neurologically, even with the support of the most compassionate therapists and the most sophisticated addiction treatment program.

And although recovery may be the road less traveled, it is the more rewarding one, leading to a purposeful, more fulfilling life.

However, if someone is “drowning in addiction” they have to be willing to make the effort to swim to get better—and that can be hard. “Sobriety and recovery is a daily practice,” wrote Michael Maassel, Harmony’s director of alumni and recovery support services, in Drowning in Addiction: A Personal Guide to Recovery. “Transformation requires work, tending, weeding, and more action… Recovery is about taking ownership of your life and choosing to no longer be the victim, but the victor.”

Many people with addiction were desperately trying to numb their emotional pain by engaging in substance misuse and then were trapped in a hellish addiction cycle that only made that pain worse. Recovering from this disease involves hard work and difficult changes. Patients have to give up their maladaptive coping mechanisms—drugs and alcohol—and substitute them with healthy coping skills but that requires some adjustments.

“Change is hard for some of us,” reminded Maassel her listeners on her weekly podcast at the end of  2020. Change—even change for the better—is often an uncomfortable process while sticking with “the devil you know” can seem the easier less troublesome option.

“Willingness to open up and be accountable” is key, said Maassel’s guest on episode 33, health coach Sage Burmeister. “Change is the flow of the universe, don’t get stuck in one place” just because it seems the easier option. Fortunately, help is always available, you just have to look for it. “Community is the biggest support for change,” said Burmeister.

Taking on hard challenges is difficult for everybody, too many people continue with an unsatisfactory situation simply because changing it seems too much trouble. “Every day, we have countless opportunities to take the easiest, yet least satisfying road,” wrote Lori Deschene on Tiny Buddha. “We can turn to the things that comfort and numb us instead of acknowledging the things we want to change. We can do what comes naturally instead of recognizing and honoring what we do passionately. We can justify the path of least resistance by ignoring our strongest instincts.”

So often, we’re cheating ourselves by choosing the easy way out. But slacking off can be dangerous for people with addiction as recovery requires focus and the willingness to work on getting better every day. There are many healthy routines like meditation and breathwork that can help you be present and show up for yourself. You just have to do it.

Recovery may not be easy but it is always possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, or you have questions about our programs, call Harmony today at (970) 432-8075 to get the help needed as soon as possible.