As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
-Henry David Thoreau
The path of successful recovery from addiction is necessarily one of change. Most people who make a decision to shake an addiction are not successful. The process of changing from addictive patterns resists itself profoundly. Like a wheel that rolls deeply imbedded in a rut, it is very difficult to change behavioral and emotional patterns for long enough that they become free to create more constructive and functional ones. There is a tendency to fall back into the rut. The principle necessary to move beyond this habitual framework is simply consistency. If we can be diligent in creating consistent behaviors—and eventually thought patterns—that stand to defeat old addictive ones, then, and only then, can new patterns emerge. There will necessarily be a period of discomfort as we are challenged by the addiction itself to return to the old methods of emotional escape. This is the part of the process best tended to with the help of others—12-step involvement or therapy, for instance. But if we can persist, then new patterns can be won, and a new experience of life can be created. Eventually, the struggle to create new behavioral and emotional patterns will lead to a new normal, one that naturally creates the change that was desired from the start.