So this is one of my secrets to getting better. My entire life changed the day I began to apply this simple (and free) prescription. Of course, after first hearing this from a wise friend at the age of 19, I first wasted another 10 years cowering and more or less paralyzed by self-consciousness and insecurity. When the going got tough, Charlie ran the other way. Don’t do that.
Let me help out a bit.
“In an effort to stop sniffing dope, I bought Methadone and was addicted immediately. Methadone, commonly and falsely thought of as an opiate blocker, is actually chemically considered to be a synthetic opioid, thus acting on the same receptors as morphine-based opiates like heroin or OxyContin. Methadone “maintenance” as a form of treatment is used in many state and federally funded programs to treat heroin addicts. It is highly addictive, causing serious and extended side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, tremors, severe joint pain, tachycardia, and psychological agony/cognitive effects including suicidal ideation, severe depression, paranoia, delusion and panic disorder, just to name a few. I loved it. I ate one hundred and sixty to two hundred milligrams (a lot) everyday and turned back into a rail. No one likes to be around that kind of weight loss.
If you are recovered, you don’t want to use anymore.
If you are recovering, you still want to use.
If you are recovered, you no longer suffer from thoughts to use.
If you are recovering, you still suffer from thoughts to use.
So if you still want to drink or use, have thoughts about drinking or using, or still suffer quite a bit, then (no offense) there is something wrong with your program.
Our program should be good enough to not only eliminate all desire and thoughts to drink or use, but to provide at least moderate peace, contentment and happiness. If it does not accomplish these things, then it is no program at all. We are not okay if we still want to drink or use, or if we still think about drinking or using.
The only option is to become recovered. We owe it to ourselves, and more importantly, to our parents, spouses, families, friends… and the rest of the world. So if our program isn’t working, we may have to turn to something much greater.
God, please restore me to sanity…
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
This is perhaps the single most important thing for addicts to understand if we truly want to recover and conquer ALL of our demons, not simply drug and alcohol addiction.
It was by doing the very things I didn’t want to do that fixed me and made me stronger. Doing the very things that scared me and made me uncomfortable, insecure and self-conscious is what repaired my mind and soul, enabling me to go from recovering to recovered. Making a tough amends, running a group or public speaking are good examples.
At times we all feel like isolating, shutting off, going inward and avoiding people, places and things that push us out of our comfort zone. But this is exactly why the most important part of the Step process is to go work with other people. When we get up and force ourselves to sit with another addict who is suffering, it thrusts us out of isolation and lifts us up inside. It shifts our direction from the small and narrow world of self-focus to the colorful and limitless world of service. Giving, sharing and being with others is perhaps the greatest contributor to personal strength, and adds the most to our reservoir of relief and freedom.
Do yourself a favor and step outside of your comfort zone, something many programs, doctors and counselors in the addiction world don’t recommend for some reason. But the truth is that it’s often the things that scare us the most which are also the most healing for us and for those in our lives. So don’t isolate, but rather, do the opposite.
God, please give me the power and willingness to walk through fear, pain and discomfort…
“The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.43
These few lines are prophetic. And may I point out that they contradict one of the most popular slogans today, “think through the drink” or “think it through”. Sure thinking it through would be great if we could do that, but we cannot. That’s what alcoholism is. That’s what addiction is.
“Think through the drink” contradicts the principle of powerlessness, which is a fundamental principle of Alcoholics Anonymous. That the alcoholic or addicted mind is utterly powerless leaves us with no mental defense. People with no mental defense cannot think through a drink or drug. Furthermore, this slogan is an example of CBT, which is useless for true alcoholics and addicts because it is backwards. Our minds are beyond warped. We cannot think our way into right action, we can only act our way into right thinking, at least in early sobriety. This slogan also assumes the alcoholic mind has ration and reason when thoughts about drinking arise. As well, it assumes that we have choice. Finally, it assumes the alcoholic or addict is not insane, which he or she is. All of these assumptions are quite wrong. Thinking you can think through the drink may get you killed by yourself.
We can only begin to think sanely regarding drugs and alcohol once the mental obsession has been lifted, once the missing chip is re-inserted, once we are made sane again. Until then, alcoholics are subject to relapse at any point in time and for no reason at all. This is what doctors, therapists, treatment centers, modern bumper sticker AA, educators, social workers, addiction counselors, academics and intellectuals don’t understand. The power of choice does not exist in true alcoholics and addicts. And once lost, it does not simply re-emerge from either our own efforts or those of others. Power once lost can only be regained through a vital spiritual experience. We must take enough action to access the power of God, and once accessed, our insanity is often immediately removed. From that point on the addict or alcoholic no longer suffers from thoughts to drink or use. He is safe. He is free. Until then, however, he is subject to relapse.
This is why achieving physical sobriety alone is quite a useless endeavor. ALL sober addicts and alcoholics are simply ticking time bombs, and one day the thought to drink will just float into their heads and once that occurs, they have no chance. They cannot think through the drink. So, if you are in this rather tortured state, the state of recovery, which most addicts remain in for life, then relapse rates will forever be horrible. And these are the folks that mainstream treatment base their understanding of addiction on. They have no consideration for those of us who were as hopeless as hopeless gets and have recovered instantly and for life.
There is all sorts of nonsense out there about how it takes our brains a year to bio-chemically repair etc. etc. etc. Then how do they explain that all thoughts to use or self-destruct were instantly gone the moment I recited the 7th Step prayer? Not only that, but how do they explain that a lifetime of guiding principles, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors were also instantly rearranged and I suddenly wanted nothing more than to grow spiritually and get other addicts to have this relief that I experienced? Let me answer that. They have no explanation, because there is no earthly explanation to what happened to me and to many I know. And this is why stigma exists. Because the mainstream understanding of addiction is that addicts are always “in recovery” and therefore perma-damaged. This is as sad as it is entirely false. Yes many are simply in recovery, suffering, struggling and teetering on the edge, but none of them need to be.
Every addict and alcoholic in the world can become totally recovered. If we want to change, and if we want to grow spiritually with all of our heart, the universe will conspire to make that happen. And if we take the leap, and pass the test of faith, God will reach out with His mind-blowing, unlimited, incomprehensible, unfathomable Power and touch us. And a mere dusting of this sort of Power is enough to restore the heart, mind and soul for life. Trust me, it happens. Miracles happen. I’ve seen many. I am one myself.
God, please teach us…