Let’s Write Some Inventory

     By the way, the private phone sessions are going really well, as they are allowing me to respond to everybody who wants to reach out about their specific situation and provide insight, education and personal advice. I’ve also been getting positive feedback, so I will continue to do these sessions and set aside more time to schedule them. So thank you, and please let others know who might benefit from this.

     *This inventory is from several years ago, and though I don’t give a shit about it anymore, we can only really help others if we’re completely honest, so I thought it would serve as a good example of why writing inventory is so important.

Please also see: Resentment & Resentment Inventory

1st Column (Person, Institution, or Principle I Resent)

Local alumni from up North. And up North.

2nd Column (The Specific Resentment)

a. Was never asked by up North’s golden boys to be part of their projects, nor have I ever been asked to work up North, even though I’m pretty good at this stuff. Some of their alumni have started multiple sober houses and TCs in my backyard and not a single phone call to partner, work at, or even come and speak, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given these guys are pretty cliquish and insular… oh and apparently I’m not ‘thug’ enough. Lol. I was only asked to come speak twice, years ago, after donating $1000 on two separate occasions. The guys in the house responded emphatically, loved it, and were inspired. Needless to say, I haven’t heard from anyone since.

3rd Column (The Resentment Affects My…)

SE (Self-esteem), P/A (Pride or Ambition)

4th Column (How Did I Cause The Resentment? How Was I Self-Seeking, Selfish, Dishonest & Fearful?)

Self-Seeking: Where’s my pedestal? How could anybody NOT want me to be the head freaking clinical director?

     (In other words, I want to be seen as some recovery master. I also want to be seen as worthy of being included in these efforts. While at least the latter might not be completely false, the fact that I want to be seen that way by them, but haven’t been, causes my resentment. You see, if there is no self-seeking, there is no resentment. Fact: the resentment has everything to do with me and nothing to do with them.

     Resentments are born and grow by our own reaction to external events. Nothing is to blame but ourselves. And when we break down our resentments and peel back the truth through the process of inventory, we can see situations clearly, which allows the resentment to dissipate and lose power. When we discover the truth, we no longer care about what is bothering us and we can move on without this spiritual poison inside. We can forgive and let go. This is how we work on ourselves. This is how we stay recovered.)

Selfish: I’ve always wanted to work with them and be a part of the family up North. As well, I am unable to see that they have no obligation to include me in anything, and I should be happy for them that they are doing so well and have been able to accomplish such great things… yet I care more about indulging my pride and ego. That is selfish.

     (This is where some people get bent. No it’s not bad or evil to want to be a part of something. But to be selfish is to want or to desire, and since I am in want, I list it here. The problem with this selfish desire is that I EXPECT to be a part of their efforts, and with expectation comes disappointment, which leads to the development of the resentment.

     Listen, if we want to get better and of we want clarity, we must dig for this stuff and peel back these layers of false perception and bullshit, the very stuff that leads to anger, grief, fear and resentment, the very poisons that keep us preoccupied with self, which if left unchecked will fool us into believing we have the right to drink or use again. Resentments left to sit inside and rot us will make us crazy again, and then it is only a matter of time before the mental obsession takes us over and rips us apart at the seams.

     If we do not write inventory and do this work, we won’t be staying sober, let alone stay recovered. That’s what these tools are for. That’s why the Twelve Steps are not just a poster on the wall at the AA meeting. That’s why AA is not meetings. It is a Twelve Step program of action based on spiritual principles.

Dishonest: The truth is I don’t really want to work with them. I find it exhausting just trying to relate. I am dishonest in the way I truly feel, but resenting them helps me to avoid the truth about myself, the fact that rejection makes me uncomfortable. The truth is that I want to do things my way just as I’m sure they do. So essentially, I am projecting a quality that I myself own onto them.

     (You see, underneath this resentment is that fact that I have nothing in common with these guys and don’t really give a shit about working with them. Quite frankly, I don’t agree with their militant, ‘I’m gonna beat the shit of you’ style. The truth is I just want to be asked so I can then say ‘no’ and go do what I want, which would be my own thing, of course. The truth is I hate working for people, or even with people in many cases. All this leads to the final question I must ask myself, which is, What am/was I afraid of?)  

Fear: I fear rejection and needing the approval of others to be okay. I fear not being okay on my own. I fear not being able to make my own way, even when I’ve been able to.

     So… I thought that I always wanted to be a part of that family up North, to work with them or to work with some of the alumni down here but the truth is I really don’t. By writing this inventory, I realized that I just want to do my own thing and to do it my way. And now I can finally let go of it because I don’t care anymore. I don’t need anybody to see what I’m doing or to see me a certain way. I’ve learned that we do this work not to be self-seeking but to help ourselves, our families and others. We do this work to become more honest and to see things as they are.

     Most importantly, we do this work for God.

God, help me to see those things that block me from You and Others…

Failure to Recover Is Pure Selfishness

     Fact: brain disease or not, the only thing keeping addicts and alcoholics from getting better is pure selfishness. Once I decide it is time to change, it makes no difference how powerless I am, and let me tell you, I was as powerless as they come.

     Yet I dragged myself into detox, dope sick and emaciated, and then I sucked it up, went to treatment, and gave myself to a solution that I saw working in others. Suddenly I was surrounded by other junkies who used the way I did, felt the way I did, and suffered from all sorts of depression and mental disorders and yet… they were completely okay and free inside. They were grounded, wise, strong, recovered. Power back. Yes, it is more than possible.

     We are living proof.

     And yet, all they were doing was taking Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Huh? Yup, that’s it. No doctors. No psychiatrists. No social workers or therapists. No insane and poisonous concoction of substitution drugs, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. I soon realized that none of that garbage was necessary, or even relevant. Meds and addiction shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

     A spiritual solution was laid at my feet, and I saw that it was saving others. It was actually working to effect the sort of real and lasting change that is so crucial to our recovery. At that point, the only thing preventing me from regaining power and recovering was pure selfishness. I simply decided it was time to stop being so ruthlessly self-absorbed, do some work, and go get better. 

     What keeps an addict sick? His brain or his spiritual condition?

     If you answered “brain” then you are… wait for it… WRONG! If you really think about it, what keeps an addict sick is his degree of selfishness. Once an addict, any addict, becomes willing to change, he can then alter his brain. In fact, I suffered from a host of bio-chemical imbalances, and yet, spiritual action healed me from all of that nonsense as well.

     I’ll admit that even after the profound experience I had in treatment, low levels of serotonin nagged me and eventually the depression set back in as the pink cloud dissipated. So I pushed myself. I took more action and walked through my feelings. I meditated every single day for an hour, sometimes twice a day, for the entire first year of sobriety. By the end of that year, my brain was completely restored.

     It has been almost ten years and I no longer suffer from depression or mental defects, although you may want to confirm the mental defects thing with my wife. I have continued to do this work, year after year. That’s it. I continue to write inventory and read it, I continue to pray and meditate, I continue to work with others and speak to groups when invited. I continue to help my family, take care of myself, and give credit to God, where it’s due. It’s simple. Really. Addiction isn’t complicated and neither is the solution. You just need some guts.

      If you couple the inner work and helping others with sincerely reaching out to God and asking Him, there is no miracle that cannot be accomplished. Most addicts tell you they need meds and they buy into the dual-diagnosis hoax because they just refuse to dig in, get off their asses and work. We refuse to suffer a little bit and grind it out. We refuse to step outside of ourselves and let go of our pathological selfishness. We refuse to live life on life’s terms. We have no humility.

     And yes, this is just me. This was my experience. This blog is my life, so no need to get all bent out of shape. The knucklehead I refer to is me. Some may resonate, others may not, but who cares. It doesn’t matter if your experience is different. It only matters if you used and felt the way I did. It only matters if you indeed have alcoholism and drug addiction.

     Sure I suffer and struggle at times, but there are no more thoughts to drink or use and I can handle anything that comes my way. You have to remember that while having a broken body and an abnormal reaction to drugs and alcohol is a permanent situation, having a broken mind and being powerless is a temporary situation. We can regain this power and then choose abstinence for life. We do not need to continue hurting ourselves and others.

     So our failure to get better while still powerless as well as our failure to stay better once we recover is purely a matter of rejecting selfishness. Anyone who doesn’t understand that addiction is a spiritual disease of selfishness just simply does not understand addiction. You cannot blame your brain for choosing to live a destructive life. “But we are powerless!” Yes, I heard you. Doesn’t matter. Since the mental component of our addiction can be lifted through right action, we must be accountable for choosing to remain in a purely self-centered frame of mind.

     To recover from addiction, the person must change, the mind must change, the heart must change. The soul of an addict must be fixed, not the body. Plus, science has tried over and over again to make an addict back into a non-addict and still cannot achieve it. There is no making an alcoholic or an addict back into a non-alcoholic or a non-addict. Once we have the body of an addict, once we begin to react abnormally, we are physically screwed for life.
     Programs such as rational or smart recovery that say addicts and alcoholics can learn how to use moderately again and enjoy drugs and alcohol like normal people are hoaxes. These programs as well as the entirety of new age social science and addiction medication should all be thrown out. No addict physically recovers. Our only choice is abstinence. Fact.
     Let’s take a look at the daily searches and then you can decide for yourself if selfishness has anything to do with it.  By the way, 95% of all searches that appear on my stats page are some variation on one common theme, and these are direct quotes. See for yourself…

     *Why are alcoholics selfish?
     *Why are addicts so selfish?
     *Alcoholism is a selfish disease
     *Are all addicts so selfish?
     *Alcoholics are self-absorbed sociopaths
     *Do addicts realize how selfish they are?
     *Why do alcoholics become so selfish?
     *Addicts are so fucking selfish
     *Recovering alcoholics self-centered
     *Why are alcoholics selfish?

     But if you still must insist that selfishness is not the problem, then my suggestion might be to take off the rose-colored glasses of denial and stop reading stuff that continues to deny the moral/spiritual aspect of addiction. I often talk to untreated addicts who are basically incoherent or alcoholics who are nearly wet-brained who say that the spiritual stuff is not the problem, that they have always been a “really spiritual” person, that they got the “spiritual stuff” all figured out. Ah… yeah.

     When an active addict tells you they are a really spiritual person, you are dealing with someone who is suffering delusions of grandeur. You may just want to run the other way, as these are generally the types who convince you that what they need is just to get their hands on some more drugs such as methadone, librium, clonidine, suboxone, seroquel, etc. etc. If your addict is whining about how more of the same old shit will work this time, you are still dealing with a pathological liar. These people have no intention of really changing and getting better. They seek to continue lying and manipulating you in an effort to stay as comfortable and as high as humanly possible.

     Trust me, this was me until I finally decided to grow up a little bit, think about others once in a while, and stop being such a fucking wimp. And that, my friends, is all there is to it. Just walk right through it. Walk through the pain. Walk through the fear. Walk through the depression. Walk through the endless thoughts and the heavy feelings. Walk through it like a warrior and God will reward you.

Comment Response on Dopamine & Working With Medicated Addicts

     I’m reposting this comment response that I had to publish because it was too long, as I continue to get emails from the therapist contingency asking about dopamine, not to mention the recent onslaught of concocted science regarding the organic neurochemistry of drug addicts and how drug-seeking behavior is not only rational and justified but in fact a sincere and heartwarming effort to achieve normal levels of certain neurotransmitters. Excuse for a sec me while I go beat my head against a wall. Plus I just read an article in the NYT propaganda machine about some poor 6-year old child on both adderall and the anti-psychotic, risperdal. Let me tell you that the narcissistic doctors who sanction this sort of poison as well as the parents who passively follow orders without a single neuron firing (no pun intended) are both insane, or at the very least grossly misguided and negligent.

     Ah yes, indeed. Well thank you so much for reading and reaching out. I’m grateful. And you’re certainly right about the fact that addiction crosses all lines, as all drugs act on what neuroscientists refer to as the dopaminergic system. There are some rather distinct differences between the drug action of certain classes of drugs. Opiates, for instance, tend to produce greater degrees of physical dependence as they (if I remember correctly) act on the mu and delta opioid receptors (as opposed to the localized kappa receptors) and essentially shower our CNS with relief, allowing for some pretty vicious physical withdrawal.
     However, these bio-chemical details are actually what cloud the judgment of many clinicians, but that said, you’d be right, physically speaking, to tell your clients they are all addicted to dopamine. And of course, the statement will most likely be met with total indifference, or perhaps some feigned interest at best. 
     A larger problem are the scientific presumptions we make regarding treatment, such as the implied notion that a lack of dopamine must be met with a more dopamine, and even with healthier actions that raise dopamine levels… when the truth is that increasing dopamine production is not a solution, and is actually one of the primary causes of addicts failing in recovery.
     For one, it is the exact wrong frame of mind, which is to continue to find ways to feel better in sobriety. It is precisely our addiction to comfort that must be dissolved in order to accept life as it is, on life’s terms, as a human being that suffers from time to time. Two, it fails to address the crux of the mental component of addiction, the reason we cannot stay stopped, which we can refer to as the mental obsession. Addressing addiction scientifically fails to remove our condition of insanity, a condition that may sit latent for months or even years, and then suddenly we go and pick up again for no reason at all. This is where you get all of that ‘relapse is part of recovery’ bullshit, which fails to understand addiction or how to treat it. I became recovered overnight, as did hundreds of others I know personally. None suffer from even a thought to use, and in fact we now repel those things which take us away from God.
     The reason I’m okay and will always remain sober is because this obsession has been lifted. As well, I put my relationship with God before all else. And the reason why I’m not only sober but also successful in life is simply the result of hard work. Addicts who refuse to work hard (in all facets) will fail. Nothing outside of the addict is responsible for them becoming addicts, and nothing outside can fix them. Same is true for people who fail in general. And there are no grey areas. We’re either okay or not okay. Sane or insane. Chip restored or chip still missing. Completely recovered or not at all. It is all or none for us. 
     So considering addicts are essentially preoccupied with self and self-comfort, the trick is to be okay without depending on this adjusted homeostasis, if you will, the condition of needing above-normal amounts of dopamine to be okay.
     Finally, I personally would never work with with anyone who was smoking pot, let alone on suboxone. That combination guarantees that your client is high as shit (which I’m assuming isn’t news to you), and therefore, nothing can be accomplished, in my view. I read certain parents who blog say that we must help medicate the addicts while they undergo therapy and learn how to think straight. But the statement alone is so ridiculous on its face. There is no thinking straight when an addict is medicated. And even then, the mind of an addict is generally so warped and twisted that we must usually begin to act our way into right thinking and not the other way around, as CBT would have us believe. 
     My experience is that really bad addicts must have some sort of profound spiritual experience to fully recover, some sort of transformation or conversion, whether sudden or gradual. These experiences often defy scientific theory and yet, they are real. Many such experiences have been documented. In fact, William James’, The Varieties of Religious Experience, contains many 😉
Bless you. Hope that helps…

Inducing a Spiritual Experience

     Okay great, you had a spiritual experience and you were touched or whatever, but how does my fucking kid do that when most sponsors blow and most TCs are a freakin’ joke as they just water down the steps?

     Good question. No, really.

     Part of me doesn’t get why we take the spiritual teeth out of recovery when that is the most crucial ingredient. We remove the one necessary ingredient to becoming recovered and replace it with various forms of garbage.

     What a travesty, for instance, that God has been replaced with methadone. Is that really what you want your spouse or child to become, a recovering heroin addict on state-sponsored methadone maintenance? Good, that’s what I thought, because there are a some bloggers out there who passionately advocate methadone slavery and a life absent of true sobriety, recovery, health, peace, sanity, service and well-being.

     Actually, that sounds rather sadistic. You’re happy that your child or spouse is on methadone? Are you feeling okay? Trust me, if you truly want them back, you’re gonna have to be a little tougher on them. 

     At any rate, for me, I was personally removed from my environment and took the first seven steps in treatment at a spiritual retreat. However, I have also seen many take Steps out in the world, working individually with a recovered sponsor. I’m afraid the results are less a function of the sponsor or place and more a function of the sponsee’s willingness and thoroughness in the work.

     That said, it is certainly necessary to instill confidence and to break down the process for the sponsee, and to do this, one must find a recovered sponsor who has taken Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book and who has experienced a psychic change. It is useless to work with someone who has nothing (internally) that you want. It is best to find someone who has what you want, so to speak, someone who lives and breathes the qualities you find attractive and desirable such as strength, calm, contentment, balance, humility, confidence, tolerance, inner peace and a willingness to serve without expectation… so maybe you shouldn’t call me, hahaha.

     The profound, white-light sort of experience I had was the direct result of the work I did. I put every fiber of my being into it because I wanted this thing more than anything. I saw others transforming and glowing with Spirit. I wanted that.

     So when I sit down with someone, I first try to gain their confidence, tell them how I used and felt so they know I know what I’m talking about. Then I try to inspire them to embark on the Steps by describing my inner experience now – the fact that I no longer suffer from thoughts or desires to drink or use, the fact that I am okay without distraction, the fact that God doesn’t bring me anything I can’t handle, and most importantly, the fact that God is now doing for me what I could not do for myself, like live life.

     I may not get too God-heavy, depending on the sponsee, but you know what I mean. It doesn’t matter what words we use so long as the sponsee becomes willing to believe in a Power greater than themselves. This modicum of willingness is all one needs to begin.

     Once they begin taking action, magic can happen, and usually the most obstinate and atheistic among us become those with the strongest faith and the firmest resolve in God. We need not make any apologies for our relationship with God, as it is the single most important thing in our lives. When we induce a spiritual experience, we know with absolute certainty that our Creator has restored us and that He powers us in ways we previously found impossible.

God, please help every addict and alcoholic who still suffers find their way to the Steps and to You… 

The (Beautiful) 3rd Step Prayer

     “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.” Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 63

     Who can deny the perfection of this prayer? Surely it is as beautiful as it is powerful.

     “God, I offer myself to Thee…”  – When I truly understood this, I knew I’d be recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. The Big Book initially seeks to educate us on the physical/mental components of addiction as well as the underlying spiritual malady, and if we are listening, we come to realize that we cannot restore ourselves to sanity.

     When I realized that I was powerless, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I simultaneously understood humility for the first time. I knew that while I could do all sorts of others things, the one thing I couldn’t do is control my drinking and drug use. Drugs and alcohol had me by the balls.

     I also saw this solution working in others. I saw people writing their inventory, going into a chapel to read it, and then emerging hours later, glowing with Spirit. Obsession lifted. And that is when I realized I no longer have to rely on my fucked up head to guide me through life. There ARE other powers at work, and this power, the power of God, could indeed do for me what I could not do for myself.

    “…to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.” – When we give ourselves to God, we are essentially giving ourselves to the cultivation of, and the obedience to our conscience. We are making a commitment to go to any lengths necessary to grow spiritually, which means that we never ignore something we must do in order to grow spiritually or to help our brothers and sisters who are still suffering.

     This remains difficult for some to understand. What do you mean by God’s will? What we mean is, sure we continue doing what we would normally do, but when we are confused, anxious and filled with RID (Restlessness, Irritability, Discontent), instead of plowing through impulsively, we step back, get quiet, pray to let go, pray for God’s will to be done, and then we get up and continue moving. Do me a favor and just see what happens if you pray earnestly and unselfishly before doing something.

     “Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.” – How beautifully this summarizes the very crux of our problem, as well as the solution. When I understood that my previous life was guided by an impulsive and narrow frame of mind based on fear, pride, arrogance, insecurity and self-will, it was then I also realized that getting better involved the removal of this frame of mind. It is when we finally get over ourselves and underneath something else.

     The view from inside an addict is very narrow and narcissistic. At least for me, I believed only in myself, positive that I knew everything, and confident that I was the only true power in my life. I worshipped only myself, my talent and my intellect… and my body, of course.

     Let me tell you, when this frame of mind cracks open and blows up, it is perhaps one of the single greatest events in your life. Everything changes once we wake up. It is like stepping out of the darkness and into the light for the first time.

     Take away my difficulties…” – No one can deny that we do indeed have difficulties and character defects. Drugs and alcohol are one thing, but from our addiction springs forth all sorts of maladaptive behaviors, beliefs, attitudes and approaches to others and to the world. Humbly asking the unlimited and mind-bending power of the Holy Spirit to remove some of these difficulties is essential to getting better.

     “…that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life.” – Getting better is not selfish. Getting better allows us to give back, be useful, help others and serve God. One of the brilliant things about this prayer is to delineate helping others based on “Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.”

     For me, helping based on Thy power is when we specifically bring others the solution and try to hook them up to God, so to speak. I, for one, absolutely must engage in one on one intensive work with other addicts so they may acquire and use these tools to experience spiritual power for themselves. This is true sponsorship. We help others to activate the power lines, if you will, between them and God, and then we get out of the way.

     Helping others based on Thy love is the effect we have on others simply by being loving, better people. When we change ourselves, the effect of that alone is helpful. We help others just by being kind and loving, tolerant and patient. We help by being present with others and truly listening to them.

    And finally, helping others based on Thy way of life is projecting a good example to others through our change in lifestyle. By taking care of ourselves etc., we serve as an example. As well, we continue to learn and grow, and thus can educate others on beneficial changes to their lifestyle. Exercise, diet, creativity, service work and meditation practices are just some of the things we can teach others to help them improve their life experience and help them get closer to God and His way of life.

     Good prayer, huh?

     If you’re an addict or an alcoholic out there, you really have to ask yourself, why not? Why not try this? What have you got to lose? Why not try giving yourself and your will over to God? Why not try helping others? The truth is that there is no reason, especially because it works. So please, dig deep and ask yourself if what you are doing now really works? Are you really getting better? Are you really free inside?

     Are you really okay?