The Gift of Desperation

     Follow up to Enabling Makes You Suffer, and inspired by a post I just read on The Addict In My House blog. So why is desperation a gift?

     The perfect analogy is a teenager who drinks and gets high and is still having fun with it. Why would a clueless, cocky adolescent get better while he’s out there having a blast and hasn’t suffered any profound life consequences yet? They have no need nor any will to change because, let’s be honest, they don’t really have to yet. They are still in la-la land, and even when they have legal trouble, they usually get to walk right out. They haven’t lost their families, their bodies, their minds, and they have no understanding of money and the world, so they don’t feel the weight of survival and adult responsibilities. The twisted irony is that we don’t want to stop until we can’t stop – until we’ve completely lost control and no longer have the ability to stop.

     Adult addicts carry this immature and delusional nonsense into adulthood, but the problem is that we are no longer teenagers. Therefore, the sooner we are beat up and wallowing in an abyss of dread and despair, the better. I only wanted to stop when I was so bad that I couldn’t stop anymore on my own willpower. There is no way in hell I could have recovered on my own power. Some of the younger ones can still stop as they are not too far gone yet. But me? There is no way. I only became willing to change when I was so ravaged spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically that I actually believed I could not recover and that I would die like this. This is why hopeless addicts truly require some divine intervention, which is why we often cannot make it without spiritual help and without accepting both the presence and the power of God.  

     I only went to detox and eventually up North because I was out of options. I was broke and in tens of thousands of debt. I was emaciated and my body was beginning to literally break down. I was beyond hope and no longer believed it was possible to get better and live a life again. The level of my depression/spiritual destitution was seemingly terminal. I was unrecoverable. At the bitter end, I was only using to stay out of continuous withdrawal. It wasn’t fun anymore. Nothing was fun. I had lost almost everything – friends, some family, respect, meaning, purpose, my soul. And if I hadn’t been this beat up, I can promise you that I never would have even considered going to a detox.

     The sooner that using no longer becomes fun and is only a way to keep us out of continuous withdrawal, the better. Sure you don’t have to wait until you’re rotting away in a crackhouse with 5 STDs and one tooth left, but the truth is that the worse off we get, and not just with drugs but in every other facet of life, the closer we are actually getting to getting better. This is why enabling doesn’t work. Why would we ever change or stop when we have everything we need, when we can sort of manage our addiction year after year, when we have you wrapped around our fingers?

     And by the way, tricks such as suboxone or methadone are just that – tricks. They allow addicts to bullshit you by managing their addiction until they either get bored, get some money, or until the mental obsession hits them like a ton of bricks, which it most certainly will. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. A good advertisement for active addicts would be, “If you want to completely bullshit yourself and your parents, get on suboxone or methadone. It works!” Substitution or harm reduction (which is nonsense) drugs enable drug addicts, which is the antithesis of true change, growth and recovery. How can we be truly honest with ourselves when we are doped out on synthetic opiates or some mind-numbing psychotropic that has rewired our brains? Maybe I’m just cynical but my golden rule (which doesn’t have to be yours) is not to erect any possible walls between me and God.

     By the way, when I write about meds, I’m not talking about normal people or non-addicts. Normal people can do whatever they want. They are entitled to use medication because they haven’t lost control and take something with a completely different agenda than an addict. I personally wouldn’t go that route even if I wasn’t an addict, but the point here is that my formal analysis is limited to drug addicts. I try to only judge drug addicts, haha… because that’s what drug addicts do. Lol.

     At any rate, the addicts who are truly desperate are the ones who are much closer to getting better and finding the solution. So we should want the active addicts out there to become as hopeless and desperate as desperate and hopeless gets. Only then might they see the futility in drugs and alcohol as a solution to their lives. And why do we often need to get so desperate? Because we are as stubborn and selfish and clueless and dishonest and delusional as they get.

Also see: Hitting Bottom, on fate and our blueprints, on the fruitlessness of enabling, and on the process of hitting bottom and the dangers of interrupting that process.

God, please help active addicts still suffering to become hopeless and desperate, that they see the futility in using, that they may finally reach out and find their way to You…

6 thoughts on “The Gift of Desperation

  1. I came back to re-read the original post on enabling and found this part 2 and again, I'm so very grateful to you. I cannot begin to tell you how perfect the timing of these posts are in my life right now. Thank you for your brutal honesty. I am going to order your book and I will indeed review it. j

  2. Charlie you say that you lost some family, which means some still believed in you or at the very least did not abandon you completely. how important were these people to you? I know for me it is important that during the little amount of time I do see my daughter I want those moments to be loving. I know there is a good chance that I won't see her again so I want my (maybe last words) to her to be positive and loving. This is so hard. 🙁

  3. Yes, my wife and my mom still believed in me, to be sure, as broken and sad and pissed as they may have been. It's hard to say how important they were to me, though I suspect more than I know or can fathom. The problem with me is that I didn't get better because or for anyone other than myself. Of course I loved them and didn't want them to be hurt, but I used as long as I damn well pleased and got better when I damn well wanted to. That is how selfish I am. Even now, I give all my love and free time to them, but ultimately I remain selfish and my recovery is driven by a desire to maintain myself spiritually and grow in this way. It's funny, they've always been secondary – before it was addiction that came first, and now it's God, but trust me, if your addict puts their spiritual growth first, everything else is in the best possible condition. Addicts are just too much.

    But the point is that we should do what's in our hearts. They did what was in their heart and I did what was in mine. So my ultimate advice to anyone is to LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Our heads can get in the way, but if your gut tells you what to do, do it. Don't listen to me or anybody else. You are perfectly capable of learning as you go and figuring it out for yourself. If you think something is right or wrong with every cell in your body, than that is what you must do.

    As a parent, I'm sure I would be tough with my son in a sense, but I will always love him and let him know that. But if you feel compromised or manipulated or that your approach just doesn't feel right, than listen to that as well. We can't go wrong listening to our guts, because that is probably the closest practical thing we have to receiving God's messages for us.

  4. I text my son every day that I love him. He always responds but it wouldn't matter I still want to remind him that regardless of his addiction I still love him.

    I feel like he has given up on himself. I wonder if he will ever want to get clean. He says he is perfectly happy this way and is not going to get clean anytime soon. Homeless, skinny and needing drugs to survive but he is happy?

    I remember in your book that wrote people were telling you that you didn't look good but you thought you looked great. I look at my skinny son with his dark circles sunken in face and I swear the color of his skin is different and have a hard time believing he thinks he looks good. But he must!

    He always cared about how he looked. Spending time making sure his hair is perfect (as I think you saw in the picture I sent you!) now he just wears a hat every day but I know he still thinks he looks good.

    It is just so sad.

  5. I found that I am going through despiration as we speak..18 months sober and my life is calm.. boring at times.. although this will pass.. I am turning my life over to my higher power..

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