“When you believe that your problem I caused by someone or something else, you become your own victim.” Byron Katie

The more I work with successful patients at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine, the more I recognize consistent qualities: resilience, gratitude, and ownership of their problem, to name a few.

The patients with the least chance of successfully recovering from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) have other traits in common, and I think the most debilitating one is perceiving themselves to be victims…of birth, of circumstances, of their parenting or lack thereof, the culture, or of life in general. Things always happen to them.

Although Steven Covey is famous for his many books on helping people succeed in the business world, I think his Circles of Concern and Circles of Influence models are highly relevant to the people we work with.

As Mr. Covey says, we all have our own Circles of Concern: our health, our families, global warning, our jobs, etc. Within the Circle of Concern, it is clear that there are some things over which we have no control and other things we can do something about.

The Circle of Influence, embedded in the Circle of Concern, contains those things that fall into the category of things we can do something about.

Patients who are proactively working on their recovery continue to expand their Circle of Influence. They own and work on their issues through the hard work needed in therapy, recovery meetings, adherence to medically assisted, and/or other treatment modalities.

“Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.” — pg. 83 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (2004).

Detoxing off opioids such as Percocet®, Vicodin®, Dilaudid®, Oxycontin®, heroin, fentanyl—or even methadone or buprenorphine—is a powerful declaration for our patients who have chosen to expand their Circle of Influence rather than wallow in the murky world of blaming everyone and everything else for the situation in which they find themselves.

Byron Katie, a master at deconstructing victimhood, says:

  • “As long as you think that anyone or anything else is responsible for your suffering, the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of the victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.”
  • “If you think the cause of your problem is “out there,” you’ll try to solve it from the outside. Take the shortcut. Solve it from within.”

The success of our Accelerated Opioid Detox and Alcohol Detox programs is largely due to the partnerships we establish with our patients and their support persons. Our patients tend to be highly motivated, deeply in the Action Phase* of their commitment to change an un-workable behavior.

This is no place for a victim mentality.

But if you or a loved one is prepared to own your Substance Use Disorder, we are very prepared to help you through it. Please give us a call and let us answer any questions you might have.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP

*Based on Prochaska and DiClimente’s Transtheoretical Model of Change