He who dares, loses his footing for a time. He who dares not, loses himself.
Our addictions attempt to serve many important emotional purposes. One of these is footing. Often our addictions serve to create an emotional footing when we have trouble finding this equanimity without them. And while it is not always unhealthy to lightly use some external sources to help regulate our emotions, true addictions usually become the main source of this footing instead of just a supplement to our own internal ability to navigate our emotional worlds. For this reason there is, necessarily, a time when we choose to let go of our addictions, that we feel ungrounded, unsafe, and, often, desperately afraid. This is a very tender and tenuous stage of change—when we have to develop new emotional skills while simultaneously facing the discomfort of losing the footing that our addictions dysfunctionally provided us. This is the stage of recovery that may well be supplemented by voluntary involvement in a recovering community, or even in inpatient or outpatient care. But the consequences of not facing this difficult and painful stage of change means losing oneself deeper into our addictions. There is no way to make major changes without moving through this stage, however, so if we can embrace the process and allow the discomfort for a time, we can regain a new footing, one that does not rely on our addictions to be maintained.