Warning Label for Addicts

     As you know, this blog is not intended for people who want it sugar-coated. It is not for people who only want to hear what they want to hear, who want validation for an easier/softer way, who want to sidestep total responsibility and total honesty. There is nothing easy and soft about solving addiction, nor should there be. Easy and soft will kill you. Addicts must change completely if they are to recover. There is no half-assing our growth if we wish to have any chance in hell of making it.
   
     That being said, addiction is characterized by a physical allergy to mood-altering substances. Thus, any mood-altering substance will elicit the phenomenon of craving, leading to more and more. Once the flip is switched, there is no stopping an addict and they will continue to use until they either go broke and wind up in detox, or simply overdose and die. Once we start drinking or using, we are talking about a physical event. Our bodies do not react the way normal bodies do. We cannot stop. We crave and crave until we pass out.

     Therefore, me as a drug addict, with the physical malady of addiction, shouldn’t be taking any mood-altering substances. Sorry, but mood-altering substances include anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, Tylenol PM etc, and I hate to say it, but yes, nicotine as well. Cigarettes, while the effect on our mood may seem subtle, actually have quite a profound effect. With every drag, we are getting a small release of dopamine in our brain, which acts as an extremely effective mood-stablizer.

     To be perfectly honest, it floors me how absolutely stupid doctors are when they prescribe or recommend all sorts of garbage that is anything but safe for addicts and alcoholics. Doctors couldn’t be more happy to give an addict a substance that sets off the phenomenon of craving, thus inducing a relapse. Aren’t these guys supposed to know everything there is to know about the body? And if not, then why all the hubris? Why the God-complex when their advice might bury me? We are different from you. Our bodies our different. We have crossed a line and broken ourselves physically.

     All of these substances simply act as a brick wall between us and getting better, between us and our capacity to be honest, between us and God. Why risk putting up walls between you and your recovery? Don’t we have the best shot to recover if we don’t take anything that might keep us from getting closer to God? Don’t we have the best chance to achieve lifelong freedom if we do the tough work that needs to done, if we walk through our feelings of pain and discomfort and depression? And isn’t our work more pure if we don’t sooth and self-medicate with more drugs?

    Trust me, the best chance we have to genuinely get better is by leaving any and all mood-altering substances at the door and jumping in with complete and total purity. If you truly want to change and you truly want to get close to God, and if you are willing to go to any length to get it, God will touch you. The Universe will conspire to fix anyone who really wants to be fixed and who will stop at nothing to get it.

God, please help me to topple any walls that may keep me from You… 

How to Stay Sober Forever

Saw this search phrase last night: ‘Most addicts never stay sober forever.’
   
     Yup, and guess why?

     Because less than 1% of them actually give their whole selves to the Steps. Any addict who gives 100% to this process will never fail.

     Why?

     Because what happens with someone who gives their whole self and their whole life to the Steps is that they have chosen to put their spiritual health and God above all else, above not simply drugs and alcohol, but above everybody and everything. If you actually do that, you will stay sober forever.

     Why?

     Because if you have done that, then all you care about now is your sanity and your relationship to God. A fire has been lit within. You now do whatever you need to do to be okay.

     If you need to pray, you pray. If you need to meditate, you meditate. If you need to write inventory, you write inventory. If you need to read inventory, you read it. If you need to make an amends, you make an amends. If you need to pay someone back, you pay them back. If you need to make something right, you make something right. If you need to help someone, you help someone. If you need to help yourself, you help yourself. If you need to exercise, you exercise. If you need to make a change, you make a change. If you need to leave a relationship or a job, you leave a relationship or a job. You do what you need to do to stay well and close to God. Ignoring your spiritual health is no longer an option. That is what it means to be sane.

     So I guess the millions of alcoholics and addicts out there who relapse at some point were never sane at all. No sane person relapses. That is just a fact. If you are sane, you have no more need, desire, obsession or compulsion to use. That’s why we say you’re either recovered or not at all. Trust me, there is every difference in the world. There are those who give their whole lives to God, and those who don’t. Those who don’t, fail. Or to put it more inclusively, those who don’t give their lives to growing spiritually, fail. And those who do, never fail. They never relapse.

      So my question is, why don’t all of the millions of addicts who can’t stay sober just give 100% to the Step process, 100% to their spiritual, mental and physical health, 100% to God? The solution to addiction is that simple and that free. The only addicts who fail are those who don’t want to recover. They are too selfish to give themselves to anything other than drugs and alcohol. They refuse to give anything up or make any sacrifices. Their failure to recover has NOTHING to do with anything outside of them. Nothing can be blamed but themselves.

     And if you listen to doctors, psychotherapists and pill pushers, than I can’t help you. Nobody can. If you’re going to take a bunch of pills to get better, you might as well just keep drinking and getting high. There is no difference. You’re still crazy. Crazy people don’t stay sober.

     Sane people do.

Why Bother With Anything?

     Because it matters what we do.

     I used to wonder about this quite a bit, trying to determine if there is a point to anything I do when my existence is but a tiny flash in the scope of the entire Universe. I felt as though I am so small as to be inconsequential and essentially meaningless. In space-time, as it were, we are basically nothing, almost immeasurable.

     Then, as I gradually grew up and out of my addict mind and addict self, I suddenly realized how stupid I was. Everything that exists can be broken down into the same stuff. Therefore, our existence is determined not simply by God’s spiritual intelligence but by each and every thought, word and action of ours. We are literally shaping our reality, our world, and most importantly, the world we leave behind.

     Even less complicated is understanding that everything we do matters on an individual level. Cause and effect is a universal law, and therefore what we do has a direct consequence to us personally, to our lives and to all that occurs in our lives. If I choose to become a selfish drug addict, my life will reflect that. I have created a life of chaos, strife, heartache, illness, fear, depression and failure. Conversely, if I begin to take care of physical and spiritual health, my reality changes accordingly, sometimes in a big way.

     And when we merge this individual understanding of cause and effect with a universal understanding, we begin to realize that not only do our actions shape our own lives, but the entire world… and the world we leave in our wake… the world we leave to our children. So yes, it matters what we do. What we do creates our reality and the world we live in. What we do shapes the future for our children. And that’s why we bother to do things. That’s why we bother to do the right thing.

God, please teach me that what I do matters and creates the world I live in now and the future I leave behind…

Judgment

     I still judge people. I’ll admit it. And like a fool, when I see my own flaws in others, I loathe it in them and excuse it in myself. You may be asking, what the hell is wrong with me?

     I’m a drug addict, for one. Sure I’ve been recovered for almost a decade but an addict is a person who is spiritually ill. Addiction is the natural byproduct of a grave spiritual condition. So we don’t just magically change into wonderful, sane, grounded and polite individuals once we get sober. We carry our deranged characters far into our recovery, and this is why it is so crucial to not simply get clean, but to get better… much better.

     I have been somewhat rigorously taking steps for nine years and you should see me in the car sometimes. Even my wife sides with an adolescent with his hat on sideways who nearly kills us while texting just because my reaction is so painfully embarrassing and upsetting to her. She’d rather side with a kid wearing a starched baseball cap at a 45 degree angle with the price tag still hanging off of it than her husband, who, um, devolves into a neolithic animal in a matter of seconds. I remind her that he is the future of this country and it should pain her as much as it tortures me, but I get nowhere.

     I guess when they say once an addict, always addict, they’re not solely referring the physical allergy. Addicts will continue to be a shining example of mental illness long after they recover. Sure I am a completely different guy than I once was, but some of the hard-wiring is just gonna take a bit more time… like maybe the rest of my life.

     Judgment is either projection (see projection), or it is simply a random vent due to our own dissatifaction with our lives and who we are. Let’s face it, if we were happy with ourselves and our world, we would have no need, fuel or incentive to judge now, would we?

God, please remove my character defects and replace them with love…

Walk Towards God

     What does it ‘turn it over’ and ‘give ourselves to God’ mean?

     For anyone who has an active experience of God within and without, it is no secret what these two phrases mean, nor it is a mystery, though ‘turning it over’ certainly gets the AA fluff award. It is often thrown around in meetings with that sort of nauseating affect that so effectively repels me from attending. But it is simply a decision to stop trying to control everything and everyone. We do our work and leave the outcome to God.

     ‘Giving ourselves to God’, however, is not only loaded, but also sends some of the “I’m so smart” types flying into a rage. Instead of going to pieces, why don’t we just look at it on a practical level?

     When we give ourselves to God, we essentially do two things: one, we are vowing to do God’s will, which means that instead of always doing what we want, we do what we need to do for others or to get closer to God. When we get our head out of the way (our ego, ambition, selfishness), what fills the space is God’s will. It’s fine for me to enjoy myself and live from the heart, but I cannot ignore God’s will. When we are faced with the choice to ignore or retreat from an opportunity to serve others or grow spiritually, we are choosing self will. When we choose the spiritual opportunity instead of what’s easier and softer and serves only us, we are choosing God’s will.

     If a friend calls me up out of the blue and says, ‘Hey Charlie, let’s go help this guy I know in detox… let’s bring him the spiritual solution’, and I say, ‘No thanks dude, I’m good, I’m busy right now eating ice cream and watching American Idol and being brainwashed by CNN et al’, I am selfishly choosing my will and ignoring the will of God. People don’t call and ask me these things randomly and for no reason. For all intents and purposes, this is God calling and it is my job to make the unselfish choice, to choose the will of God, especially if it differs from my own.

     Sometimes my will and the will of God align, which is the ultimate goal – to live in harmony with our Creator and His universe. Hard to always do, but this is what we strive for, unless you want to remain a selfish piece of shit. If that is the case, stop reading this and just go get jammed. I mean, why not? The worse you get, the closer you are getting to getting better, right? I feel as though God laughed every time I got high, knowing that with every line of dope I was one step closer to coming home to Him. Sure you don’t need to keep using dope until your mangled enough to choose God, but hey, if that’s what it takes, it’s better than muddling through and chronically relapsing for the rest of your miserable life while you put your wife and parents through non-stop hell.

     Finally, by giving ourselves to God we are also vowing to simply do the right thing. We vow to listen to and follow our conscience instead of blatantly ignoring it. We vow to take actions to help it grow into a fountain of strength and wisdom. An addict will crush his or her conscience almost into oblivion, and getting better and giving ourselves to God is very much just the process of restoring it and living right. We vow to stop lying, cheating, stealing and huring others. We stop being selfish if there is no benefit in it.

     Sometimes, of course, it is simultaneously selfless to be selfish, like when we take care of ourselves, for instance. I am no good to anybody if I run myself in the ground and burn the candle at both ends. Taking care of myself and selfishly taking time away from family/work/service is actually the will of God because it makes me better able to serve Him and serve others.

     A healthier Charlie means I can help more people and help them in a better way. Plus it makes me a better example and less of a dick. I certainly have no business working with others if I’m a crap example of recovery. In fact, I question this in myself all the time. I often wonder what the hell I’m doing presuming to be in good enough shape to help others. But hey, nobody’s perfect and I’m pretty sure it’s better to at least try than it is to sit on my ass doing nothing.

God, teach me how to grow into a better man…

The Ability to Enjoy Less

     “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates

     “The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.” – Chinese proverb

     If happiness lies in the ability to enjoy less, than being an addict is the precise opposite of such a condition. So when we get better, we develop the ability to enjoy less. The more we simplify, the greater the pleasure in simple things.

     I used to need about five OC 80s, a bag of heroin, a pile of coke, two packs of butts, greasy food, sex, tv, and countless other distractions of the lowest possible quality just to feel moderately okay and make it through the day. That is pathetic. It is sin. I’ve been reading quite a bit of nonsense about how becoming an addict is beyond our control. Sure addiction is an illness, but it is a self-created one. Acting like a needy, whiny victim is not an illness beyond our control. It is what we do to desperately maintain our addiction after we’ve turned ourselves into addicts.

     When we get better, we begin to find pleasure in less. We lower the bar, but in a good way. After years of removing drugs and distraction and selfish behavior, we begin to enjoy simple pleasures we once took for granted, all those things we whined and moaned about in a fit of entitlement. Active addicts and alcoholics are like spoiled children, crying and screaming when we can’t eat candy all day.

     Getting better is not just the process of growing up, but also one of removal and simplification. By removing things, we come to appreciate them more. Less becomes more. I personally find considerable pleasure from almost nothing: a glass of cold water when I’m thirsty, a shower, watching my son play, lying down in bed after a long day, looking at the yard after landscaping it, completing a creative project, swimming in the ocean, closing my eyes and breathing, being still, playing tennis, working out, walking around on a warm, dry day and feeling the breeze on my face.

     Earlier today, I sat down in this beach chair we have while my son played with sand and this great calm washed over me. I can’t explain it with any specificity or eloquence other than to say that I felt completely happy in that moment. Not a single thought or worry poisoned my mind. Not a shred of discontent could I find anywhere within. Sure it was only momentary, but I would never be able to bask in those simplest of things as an active addict. All addicts do is want, want, want and need, need, need. Not only is that a miserable way to move through life and navigate this world, but is also acts as a repellant to others. Rather unbecoming, my sweet, as my old man used to say with his jaw locked up good and tight.

     To enjoy less, we must never stop getting better. Go write down all the ways you behave as an addict and the way you were as an addict, and do the exact opposite everyday for the rest of your life. Nobody’s a saint, so all we have to do is our best. But that is how we get better… by acting like a normal person and developing the ability to enjoy less.

God, empty me out that I may bask in the simplest of things… teach me to simply be…

Why Alcoholics Drink and Addicts Use

Is there a reason why alcoholics drink and addicts use?

     Nope. Sorry. There is no specific reason. There is nothing you can fix or change to stop us. I know it would be easier for us to blame someone or something, or for our parents to rationalize why we are doing what we’re doing, but the truth is that reasons don’t actually exist, except in the form of bullshit we try to feed you to continue drinking and using the way we want to. The same two people can be thoroughly abused while one becomes a junkie and the other becomes a great success. The same two people can be thoroughly loved while one becomes a great success and the other becomes a junkie.

Here are the only two reasons:

     It’s pretty simple. We drink or use either because we are afraid to feel human (to face the challenges and suffering that everybody else has to deal with in life), or because we simply love to drink or use. There is no deep-seated reason behind it. Some of us are just childish, irresponsible idiots and we love getting high. Some of us are just plain selfish and don’t care about our lives, our responsibility as human beings, and those who love us. We just don’t care. That’s all. No reason.

A few more questions.

Is it wrong to become an addict? 

     Yes, absolutely. You don’t just become an addict nor are you born an addict. You mutate yourself into one all on your own, fueled by little more than selfishness. Yes it’s a disease, but it’s a disease that we give to ourselves (by using too much).

Is it wrong to use, even once we’ve crossed over that physical and mental line and can no longer control it?

     Yes. It is wrong to drink alcohol and use drugs.

Is drinking the same as using? In other words, is alcoholism the same as drug addiction?

     Yes. They are the exact same thing. Addiction is addiction and crosses all lines, regardless of substance. All substances act on the same dopaminergic reward system in the brain, and thus there is no distinction whatsoever, other than flavor. Some addicts and parents believe there is a difference, or that one is worse than the other, but that is incorrect. If you are addicted to one thing, you are addicted to them all, and our deranged behavior falls along the same spectrum. Different at times, but all on the same spectrum. You can’t believe the shit you hear from addiction specialists, therapists, and especially doctors, which is surprising given their level of education. I guess it wouldn’t be too atrocious then to question the education itself.

God, please light a moral fire inside every alcoholic and drug addict in the world…

Methadone is NOT a Solution, Obviously

     Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you think Methadone is a solution, you don’t understand addiction. Addiction is the presence of the mental obsession. That means I am subject to suddenly go insane and relapse at any point in time for no apparent reason. It means that I’m either totally recovered (sane/free) or not at all. There is no in between, no grey area. So an addict on Methadone is simply biding time, waiting to relapse. And please, if you are a parent out there, watch out. Our illness is progressing rapidly while we’re on Methadone. When and if we ever get off of this synthetic form of heroin, we are going to go on the RUN OF A LIFETIME, which may very well end us once and for all.

     As you know, I couldn’t care less about blowing up comfort zones. My job is to tell you the truth and help to dissolve the pile of bullshit you’ve been fed by your family doctor and other sources of mainstream ignorance. The good news about challenging perceptions and beliefs is that you can rest assured that I will never do you the disservice of lying to you, especially about Methadone.
     Methadone is a state-sponsored, synthetic opiate – otherwise known as pure evil. Here, buy our brand of heroin instead of your brand of heroin. Heroin is an opiate. Methadone is an opiate. How is taking more opiates a form of treatment for opiate addiction? Your brain is still actively addicted to opiates. 
     I hate to burst your bubble, but an addict Methadone is no better at all. None of the derangement or the enormous pile of false beliefs, character flaws and spiritual poison that have built up year after year are gone. We are still sick beyond measure, so don’t be fooled just because we perk up for a time and enroll in a few classes, because what you have is simply a highly disturbed and insane individual getting to stay high on your tax dollars. The mental, emotional, psychological and physical condition of an addict on Methadone is truly frightening.
     I took Methadone once to “treat” my heroin addiction, and I can admit now that I was simply engaging in the easiest, softest route I could find – the coward’s route. And this is, needless to say, the very thing that brings addicts down – pathological self-focus and preoccupation with comfort. So how effective was the synthetic opiate I took for my opiate addiction? Well, I’ll tell you one thing, I was brought to my knees by the indescribable torture of withdrawal, and once I was finally clean of it (which took weeks), I was left ravaged, devastated, spiritless, clinically depressed, suicidal, anxious, totally self-centered and focused on nothing but my feelings and comfort, and yup… still a full blown drug addict. We are nowhere but right back where we started. 
     Worse than any of that, of course, is the fact that when Methadone was finished with me, I was still useless to those who love me and useless to the world. If you ever want your child back, if you ever want your child to be able to give to you again, if you ever want your child to succeed in this world and experience physical, mental, emotional and spiritual freedom, then stay as far away from Methadone as humanly possible. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole and gloves on.
    
     I really do feel for the parents and spouses out there who have been told by some absolutely clueless doctor that Methadone is a form of treatment for heroin addiction, when it is anything but. It’s easy to think your addict is getting better, but let me tell you why: because they are still jammed out of their minds, and it’s free! Plus they’ve managed to fool you that they’re dealing with their addiction. Gee, a no guilt high! Wow, this is the life! How selfish can we get? Describing Methadone as a type of treatment or solution is a moral crime. Treatment for something is where you take or apply a remedy and you get better from what ails you. Last time I checked, you couldn’t treat heroin addiction with synthetic heroin, but hey, I guess stranger things have happened.
     Perhaps the most immoral addiction-related fact that exists today is how tax dollars are used to subsidize Methadone and Methadone clinics. As if you poor parents aren’t already raped enough with federal income taxes, entitlement taxes, welfare taxes, war taxes, property taxes, energy taxes, inflation, dollar-debasment, bailouts for criminal bankers and the corporate elite, congressional salaries and presidential vacations. So now hard-working, middle class Americans should foot the bill for selfish cowards to continue getting high, and especially when you consider there are 7 billion other people in the world who feel and go through the same exact shit as we addicts do and they just get up, walk through it and go to work sober because they are adults and because it is the right thing to do.
     Please.
     Get off the Methadone and go get better. Do some actual work on yourself like a responsible adult. That is what separates the men from the boys. 

Knowledge vs. Knowledge

     I have this relative that calls me up every so often to tell me I’m a moron and that he’s smarter than me. To be fair, he only loses it if I either suggest he go to treatment or don’t agree that he’s a victim. But let’s help him out a bit by defining what smart means. From Merriam WebsterSMART (adjective): very good at learning or thinking about things. Showing intelligence or good judgment.

     So a middle-aged, depressed and lazy alcoholic with no job, no relationship, no emotional stability, no mental stability and no psychological stability who lives off his Dad and still blames everything and everyone but himself for his feelings, thoughts, circumstances, life and addiction is super smart? I don’t know, man. I guess we have two different ideas of what smart is.

     As far as I’m concerned, you can memorize as much shit as you want and still be a total dumbass. I got straight As my entire life and was an utter failure and an utter loser, not to mention a selfish, self-seeking piece of garbage. What good is it to have an IQ but have the emotional sophistication of a narcissistic, immature teenager? I think we need to redefine what it means to be smart. The guys I know who can barely spell or complete a sentence but who are stable, secure, recovered, doing right and helping others are considerably smarter than any Ivy League train wreck.

     Knowledge has two meanings today, and they couldn’t be further apart from one another. For sure, knowledge and understanding gained from life experience is quite different than knowledge gained from the classroom.

     True knowledge is what happens when we face life’s challenges, figure out how to solve them, and make decisions on our own. True knowledge is gained when we learn how to sustain ourselves instead of depending on mommy or daddy to bail us out. True knowledge is gained when we have the courage and the guts to face ourselves, our fear, our depression and our addiction, when we conquer them through hard work and sacrifice instead of popping more pills. True knowledge is what happens when we stop whining and complaining and worrying about spending two or three weeks of our entire lives going away to treatment. We acquire knowledge and wisdom by fighting to get better and pushing relentlessly until we are free, responsible, capable and independent adults.

     So let us look at ourselves and what we are made of scathingly and honestly. Jump in, step out of our comfort zones, take rigorous action, help others, give speeches, cultivate relationships, work hard, try new things, start a family, give back, improve ourselves, meditate regularly, exercise, whatever it takes. Let’s engage in repeated action until we recover, and then we will know what it means to be smart, dear relative.