It's generally accepted that one definition of insanity is "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results."
That definition is used by AA and NA in reference to drug and alcohol addiction; the classic example being the addict who relapses but says "this time it will be different, this time I can control my use" but then fails and ends up in deep addiction again. Or the flip side, the addict who gets clean on his own and says "this time it will be different, this time I'll stay sober without any help" but ends up in relapse. Both examples are where we think we are in control of our addiction or sobriety....we always think we're going to come out on top by continuing the same behaviors as before, but the results are never what are intended.
Of course, other examples of doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results can't exactly be called "insane." If that were true, anyone who tries to learn a musical instrument and practices the same exercises over and over again, hoping to improve, would be called insane. Or someone learning a new job, or a new language....etc. But in those cases the expected different result is a positive one. Certainly one doesn't get worse the more one practices, right?
So why doesn't that hold true with addicts? It takes practice, after all, to learn to live sober. Mistakes are made, and we learn from them. Or do we? For many, perhaps that's the case. Some people get - and stay - sober the first time they try. That boggles my mind, but then I'm the poster boy for relapse. I should have had enough practice by now to have this whole sobriety thing down easy. Obviously I don't, or I wouldn't be doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.
But do I expect different results? When I make the choice to pick up, am I honestly goading myself into thinking that it will be different? Not really. Or, when I make the choice to put down, do I honestly expect to stay sober forever? Not really. Therein lies the problem. I've lived for so long now waffling between the two extremes, that I don't know any other way to live.
And that screams insanity, I believe. What sane person would want to put themselves through this over and over?
You tell me.
Submitted for McBloggery #9 Insanity