Burn the ships

Published 1:43 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

When Cortez landed in what is now Mexico in the early 1500s, he told his men to “burn the ships” so that they would have no other choice but to survive and conquer the land.

They were stripped of the easier option to turn back.

A positive step to decrease addictive behaviors is the same, burn the ships.

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Or, to mix analogies—burn the bridges so that you can’t cross back over; lock the back door and throw away the key; jump and don’t look back. Take away any opportunity to return to the destructive behavior that you are trying to stop.

This looks different for different people dealing with different addictions.

For the person who is turning from drinking, they have to let others know that they have a problem and have stopped, get rid of any alcohol in the house, give up keeping a stash around (in case a guest wants a drink), reveal all of their hiding places, stop frequenting the places where they drink, stop getting gas at the gas station that sells alcohol or is right next to the liquor store, cut off others who encourage or support their drinking.

These can be hard steps to take but necessary if the person is going to stop. As long as a person “leaves the back door open” or “locks the door but holds on to the key” they will always have the option to return.

We can’t get rid of every option or temptation, but you can take steps to separate yourself from those temptations.

There is a reason why addictions are addictive: they make you feel better when you’re down, it’s usually a quick solution, and it meets genuine emotional needs (in unhealthy ways).

If you burn the ship, be prepared for the difficulties that are going to come.

“Surviving and conquering the land” is not an easy task and it often doesn’t seem worth it especially when compared with the (quick easy fix).

The person who is genuinely determined to give up an addiction, whether it is alcohol, smoking, pornography, lying, etc., will take steps that very clearly let themselves and others know that they are cutting this behavior out of their lives.

Addictions are very serious and destructive to relationships. If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction, seek the help of a trained professional.