Typically speaking, active addicts struggle with a great deal of what some helping professionals term “King Baby Syndrome.” In other words, as the imagery might suggest, individuals in active addiction often behave like egocentric babies who think everything is—or make sure everything becomes—about them. They victimize and manipulate constantly, drawing a great deal of attention to themselves and often seem selfish to a diagnosable or narcissistic degree.
For those who do not understand the disease of addiction, that reality can be very frustrating. In fact, most sober or non-addicted friends and family members typically chalk it up to substantial flaws in character. But, the truth is, the disease of addiction changes a person’s mind. Active addicts begin to experience toxic thinking.
This symptom describes the irrational and self-sabotaging thought processes that seem perfectly sane and productive to an active addict. In some ways, it is indeed comparable to behavior one might expect from a baby or toddler who has yet to learn there is an entire world outside their own that, in fact, does not revolve around them.
Of course, with regard to a baby or toddler, this is all normal and expected behavior. Developmentally speaking, they are right where they need to be—egocentric and testing the boundaries. But, from an adult, this behavior is not only inappropriate, it is dangerous and, for anyone involved, downright painful to witness and endure.
A Bad Weed
In active addiction, the ego is out of control. This is why 12-Step programs typically focus on first admitting there is a problem. Then, once the seal of denial is broken, they propose openly discussing that problem with strangers during meetings, making amends to all whom they have wronged and so on. Humility is typically the intended end result.
Of course, 12-Step programs aren’t the only recovery processes which work to address different aspect of the addiction, including the insurmountable degree of unhealthy ego. In fact, there are many roads to recovery generally focusing heavily on deconstructing the ego, altogether. Some spiritual paths to recovery certainly maintain that intention.
Regardless of the recovery method chosen, successful recovery requires humility and the calming or silencing of the ego. This is one reason attaining mere sobriety is not considered recovery. Someone can acquire sobriety without ever addressing aspects of the self—like the ego—which sabotage personal relationships, goals and dreams. But, with regard to recovery, there is no escape from the work one must do to go beyond sobriety and heal the self.
In recovery, it is necessary to practice humility. Humbling oneself is key to accountability, vulnerability and gratitude—three aspects of successful recovery. For recovering individuals, there is a real need to check in with the self, on a daily basis, to assess the status of ego. Whether that is done through 12-Step methods of taking personal inventory or alternative recovery methods that may involve journaling or other processes of self-reflection, it may be vital to heed the wise words of one Ice Cube and, as he poignantly puts it, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.”