Not sure why, but folks in AA look at me like I’m evil when I say I’m a recovered alcoholic. This is especially fascinating considering the title page of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states, The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have RECOVERED From Alcoholism (caps used for emphasis – yes, pun intended).
Probably the #1 argument of an addict:
“Wanhhhhh, nobody knows how I feel, wanhhhhh!”
Um, yeah, they do. It’s called being human. It’s just that other people don’t shoot heroin, smoke crack, or pound a fifth of vodka like a selfish, indulgent pig just because they feel uncomfortable. Imagine that.
If we are sponsors and we let our sponsees whine about all of their problems and all of their feelings that “nobody understands”, we are terrible sponsors. It is clear that we have not taken Steps and therefore we have no business sponsoring anyone. We are only preventing him or her from getting better. Better yet, we may end up killing them.
Stop them as soon as the pity-pot materializes and tell them that getting better has nothing to do with their problems and feelings. When they get out of their own way and let go of self-will, they will know what you mean. When God becomes present in their lives, they will realize that most of their ridiculous, petty problems are entirely self-created, that is to say, created out of self – too much of it.
By the way, when I say created out self, that means that we alone are responsible for creating our problems and feelings. And the more we focus on ourselves and the more selfish we become, the more problems we will have and the worse we will feel. Conversely, the less we focus on ourselves and the less selfish we become, the less problems we will have and the better we will feel. It’s that simple.
God, please help me to align my will with Yours, relieving me of the torture of a life driven by self-will alone…
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” -Proverbs, 1:7
Often when I speak to some group, people ask me about my faith specifically. Apparently it’s very important for people to know exactly what doctrine I follow, what God I follow. First of all, God is God – there is only one God – one miraculous, all-powerful, divine Intelligence.
But anyway, the answer is that I’m Christian. I recommend Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation for more insight.
Are there other avenues to get oneself to God, to the limitless fountain of God’s love?
Yes. In fact, I also resonate with Buddhist psychology and engage in Zen meditation. I once said this to a Christian fundamentalist at the gym, a man who is the principal of a local alternative public school for vulnerable youths, and he called me a new-age Satanist. Yup. Your tax dollars hard at work. Now I wear headphones when I go work out – volume up.
So are all those peace-loving Buddhists who have never even heard of Jesus Christ going straight to hell?
And if we believe that, we should pray, as this would indicate we are officially shut off. It indicates that we are no longer educable, that we have lost the ability to learn, change and grow. And, ah, it probably means we’ve never traveled anywhere.
I once read the Ten Precepts (sort of the Buddhist equivalent of the Ten Commandments) end with an 11th suggestion and final plea: Question everything, even this. Genius. I only knew how important that truly was after I felt the power and presence of God for a fleeting moment up North, a sudden flash that altered my mind forever. That is when I questioned every belief I had accumulated in the first 28 years of life. And now I have no problem being wrong. That is freedom – the willingness to be wrong.
Trust me, going around desperately trying to force our beliefs on others is a crystal clear indication that we aren’t really sure what we believe, that we aren’t really sure who we are. Why? Because if we were truly okay inside, there would be no need to preach. We preach to try to prove what we believe to ourselves, not to others. Preaching is a cover for insecurity. And yes, I am definitely guilty of this. Sure I write this blog and yes it’s opinionated, but I do it because it is mildly informative and useful to bullshit addicts and their loved ones, not because I care at all that you believe me or follow me. I don’t want followers.
I am simply fulfilling a promise I made to the solution that saved my life, a promise I made to the people who laid it at my feet, a promise I made to God… and those are promises I intend to keep.
God, we need You…
Additionally, I have no urge or desire to drink or use drugs anymore.
In fact, I have a natural repulsion towards anything that pushes me away from God.
And no, I’m not kidding.
Nope, I’m not a lying sack of shit either.
Well, sack of shit maybe, but it’s no lie.
God, Thank you for touching me with Your power, for saving me and removing my obsession, for giving me this life and for showering me with blessings. I know that everything good that I do and everything good that I have is from You and is You. Please teach me to better do Your will, and remind me always to put You above all else…
Addicts don’t need pills and therapy, they need purpose and God… and meditation helps too.
Let’s follow up to the post about the utter failure of the Establishment to fix drug addicts. There are two central reasons why. But generally speaking, they don’t understand that addiction is a spiritual problem and thus calls for a spiritual solution.
It’s deeper than just: we picked up, we used a lot, we became addicted. We addicts weren’t meant to be addicts (even though heroin and oxycontin delivered me to God). We are on the wrong life path, if you will. When inherently good, talented people get on the wrong path, it damages them spiritually. And many of us already had a spiritual void within, an emptiness. For me, I had no purpose or meaning in my life. Sure I had talents and did creative, productive things but there was no real purpose behind any of it, only selfishness. I had no idea of the importance of adopting and living by moral/spiritual principles.
Sure addiction is a physiological dependence. But that is merely a symptom of an underlying spiritual malady. Failure to understand this leads the mainstream to only address the symptoms and not the underlying malady. That is why I tried everything under the sun and failed miserably every time. So it’s not really the drugs and alcohol we need to address, it’s ourselves – our spiritual condition.
And no one better understands how an addict thinks and feels than a recovered addict. As well, they are best equipped to give the addict what he or she needs to fix themselves. And I’m not talking about airhead AA sponsors who recite slogans, drag you to meetings, and call you for bowling on Saturday night. I’m talking about masters of addiction and the spiritual solution who are strong, grounded, free, at peace, and solid as rocks. It MATTERS who you follow. Trust me.
An even larger problem regarding the establishment is that they can’t even address the one symptom that cripples an addict and ensures chronic relapse: The mental obsession – a very special type of insanity that addicts acquire.
So let’s summarize the two problems with MSM, and what to do instead of falling into their traps.
Mainstream methods fail because they don’t understand the crux of an addict’s mental problem – the mental obsession. Triggers don’t exist. In any given moment, a thought will come into the head of an addict and at that point they go temporarily insane. They suddenly forget everything they know about their problem and the idea of using (irrational and destructive) seems rational and reasonable. They obsess until they use again. It is like having a chip missing but one that no human method or remedy can replace. And even if they could, what can they replace it with? A new hobby? A job? School? Friends? A girl? A group? A therapist? Sorry, not gonna cut it. It must be replaced with something as powerful as the addiction itself. Thus I believe that an addict must have a vital, profound and fundamental spiritual experience to fix such a condition. That is, God must play a part.
The other problem with the establishment and the other reason why addicts fail to restore themselves back to sanity and achieve lasting freedom from drugs is that they fail to fix themselves morally and spiritually. No addict can stay clean for any length of time if they continue doing the wrong thing, if they continue to lie, steal, cheat, manipulate, deceive, wallow in self-pity, remain depressed, see themselves as a victim, complain, get angry, hurt others emotionally or engage in violence. We need to grow, evolve, and rid ourselves of narcissism. Everybody suffers, not just addicts.
So I received a wonderful question on my ‘Establishment’ entry the other day, which essentially asked, ‘What then are we to do if these other avenues fail to fully restore the addict to sanity?’
Needless to say, there are many ways to address a spiritual illness across cultures and religions. But for drug addicts, there is no other method as effective as embarking on the rigorous set of spiritual actions contained within the original Twelve Step program, as it’s laid out in the original Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. So we need to find a recovered addict who has taken Steps to bring us through this process.
Or, if we cannot stay sober long enough (out in the world) for the process to work, we may need to be removed from our environment and given the opportunity to take Steps at a place that offers this solution, and that does it the right way. Generally, these places need only be staffed by recovered addicts and/or alcoholics, as the solution and the process have nothing to do with clinical interventions, drugs, therapy, doctors, nurses, social workers, etc. In fact, the solution is free. Imagine that.
God, teach us and show us the truth…