A Ring, an Oath, and a Whole Lot of Willpower
Are you familiar with the superhero known as Green Lantern? The most famous version of the DC Comics character is a fellow named Hal Jordan who (and you will just have to take our word for this if you aren’t a comics fan) is given a powerful ring that transforms him into a hero. Once Jordan has been trained as a Green Lantern, he becomes, for all intents and purposes, an interstellar space cop whose beat includes Earth.
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Green Lantern’s Power Ring gives him the ability to channel his willpower into amazing feats. Those feats include the creation of “constructs”—a seemingly endless inventory of objects that Jordan can produce just by willing them into existence. Need a giant hammer to knock a villain on the head? The Power Ring can make it happen.
All Jordan needs to do to take advantage of his powers is recite an incantation:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!
As a metaphor, the story of Green Lantern seems to suggest that willpower is a truly mighty resource that can make almost anything possible. That is a fun and exciting concept for a comic book, but it is not an accurate depiction of the relationship between willpower and sobriety.
Be Willing to Look Past Willpower in Recovery
Sometimes well-meaning individuals offer unsolicited advice about how you might get or stay sober. Often that advice amounts to the kind of thing you might hear Superman say to Green Lantern: If you just fully engage your willpower, you will be able to defeat drugs and alcohol!
This advice stems from a belief—conscious or unconscious—that a substance use disorder is a character flaw. If you just built yourself a wall of self-control (like Green Lantern creating a construct), you could vanquish your addiction with no trouble at all.
That sounds pretty good. Heroic even. But it is an idea built on a shaky foundation. (We should note here that there is a religious variation on this willpower suggestion. Someone might suggest that you could overcome your substance use disorder if you just had more faith. That, too, is a mighty shaky claim.)
Beware My Power…Seeking Out Treatment!
Green Lantern has his Power Ring—and the support of the whole Justice League (though he and Batman don’t always get along)—to help him defeat villains. What do you have to help you defeat a substance use disorder? The power of personalized, evidence-based, compassionate treatment.
We know that probably does not seem as flashy and cool as a stylish ring from outer space that grants its wearer amazing powers. But if the villain you are looking to overcome is a substance use disorder, nothing will serve you better in your battle for sobriety.
The path to sobriety includes medically assisted detoxification, a rehabilitation program that is built around both individual and group therapy (and that addresses co-occurring mental health disorders), and a continuum of care that offers ongoing support as your recovery journey gets underway.
We are decidedly not suggesting that recovery doesn’t require a certain gritty determination. Each and every day you will make decisions that either support your sobriety or threaten to undermine it. But that does not mean that relying on your personal willpower is the way to ensure you stay away from drugs or alcohol. Anyone who suggests otherwise doesn’t understand the true nature of a substance use disorder—a brain disease that can be treated but not cured—and so doesn’t understand how to address the problem effectively.
A Hero Knows When to Ask for Help
Did you know that Hal Jordan is just one of a whole corps of Green Lanterns? It’s true! The Green Lanterns come together to face enormous challenges that would be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome alone. It might seem like a single Power Ring should be enough to handle most anything, but it turns out that sometimes you need a team who really understands what you are going through in order to save the universe.
At Bel Aire Recovery Center in Kansas, we don’t wear magic rings or dress in matching skin-tight uniforms or fight evildoers from every conceivable dimension. But we do come together to help individuals who are struggling with drugs or alcohol reclaim their sobriety and their life. If you want to start your own hero’s journey toward sobriety, we are ready and able to help.