The Role of Learned Helplessness in Dependency

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People support each other in a rehab session

Learned helplessness usually has a role to play in most individuals’ dependency. Either learned helplessness was a causative force in the inception of their dependency, or they developed learned helplessness in the process of failing to quit and perpetuating it. Whichever way learned helplessness affects your dependency, the good news is that it can be unlearned given the right tools.

Defining Learned Helplessness

A person gets to a place of learned helplessness by being in a situation long enough that makes them feel powerless and out of control. They feel trapped and, because of these feelings, don’t believe they can improve their situation or find a way out. Accepting this powerlessness will just perpetuate these beliefs and create a self-fulfilling prophecy, potentially leading to further problems like substance abuse or depression.

Leading to Dependency on Substances

Substance abuse often begins as a means to escape the discomfort in their life. For example, if someone is in an abusive relationship where their partner disempowers them, and they feel a loss of control over life, they may turn to substances to feel temporary relief from their intense emotional pain.

Dependency Causing Learned Helplessness

Whether through formal recovery efforts or before realizing their need for treatment, an individual struggling with dependency might try to control their drug or alcohol habits without any luck. The unsuccessful attempts to keep their substance use in check can damage their feelings of self-efficacy and make them feel hopeless about ever-improving their situation, causing learned helplessness.

Solutions to Take Back Control

Learned helplessness is a set of beliefs that an individual learns, but they can change these beliefs any time they are ready to step back into their power and take back control of their thinking. Learning to correct the negative underlying beliefs to their learned helplessness and replacing them with self-empowering beliefs will accomplish this.

Adopting the mindset that you, your beliefs, and therefore your life can change is a big step in changing the course of your dependency. Of course, this is no easy feat to accomplish, so enrolling the help of a dependency therapist can help you learn how to control your thoughts and make these big mindset shifts. After working on changing your frame of mind, you will be ready to bring your mindset shift into action and start acting according to your thoughts.

With the confidence you gain from your mindset, you will finally be ready to make your situation better by leaving that toxic relationship or begin treatment for your dependency.

When your false beliefs go unchecked, they wreak havoc on your life. Couple a mindset of learned helplessness with a dependency, and you will not feel stable and in control of your life. By changing the narrative you tell yourself, you have the power to change your life. At Avalon Malibu, we specialize in treating co-occurring mental health disorders and dependency. By focusing on comprehensively treating every aspect of an individual’s needs, we develop treatment programs specialized for you to experience success in recovery. Call us today at (844) 857-5992 if you are ready to have command over your life again.

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