What I Learned from Taking a Break

It’s not necessarily what you do, it’s how you do it. Similarly, It’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it. What is our intention?

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What I (re)learned from taking a break:

     1) That I can know something intellectually (and literally be writing and discussing it on a daily basis) yet fail repeatedly to practice it in my life. That I can hear something I already know said in a different way and it suddenly fires neurons that continue sleeping when I myself am the one regurgitating it.

     2) Accept everything. That is the secret to inner peace. Shamefully, I actually began to think that the stuff that bothered me was because of the stuff that bothered me, and that IT needed to change for me to be okay. Then I actually heard something useful in a meeting as we were reading one of the stories in the back of the Big Book, the theme of which was acceptance. The guy writes about his wife and their dynamic as his alcoholism progressed. He began to see her defects instead of the many good things… until he discovers the concept of acceptance.

     He writes, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417

     How absolutely true this is. When we stop seeing all of the stuff that bothers us and instead accept things just as they are, not only do we find peace, but the stuff that bothers us seems to magically go away. The world is a reflection of what’s inside of you. When we change, everything around us changes.

      3) Not coincidentally, when I refuse to accept everything, I am also refusing to love. I am failing to properly love myself and my family. So I chose to stop distracting myself so much and fully embrace my life and my family. I gave my time to them wholeheartedly – present and engaged – playing, laughing, loving them completely – and boy did they light up. I swallowed whatever pride and annoyances I had and just gave in to loving them.

     4) In accepting everything and loving my family, I took the pressure off of myself. Normally, if I’m not constantly doing something or achieving something, I feel like an utter failure and a lazy, worthless, piece of crap. Sure that is good to some extent because sloth is no good either, but too much ambition can be a disaster and only lead to misery, at least for addicts like me. As I became more distracted and tried to multi-task through life, I became edgy, annoyed, unhappy and jaded. So balance is key. Achievement means nothing if we are miserable inside.

     5) I also reached out to God in prayer and deep meditation. I asked God to teach me to better love and accept myself so that I may better love and accept my family. I asked Him to help me see the good, not the bad. I also prayed for them to be embraced by Him, to feel loved and accepted themselves. I asked for them to have happiness, peace, self-esteem and joy. I asked God to teach me how to truly let go.

     6) I focused on simple work and just being and enjoying where I am in life and what I’m doing. When we want to be somewhere and/or do something other than what we’re actually doing, that, my friends, is torture. Nothing will bring you down, give you angst, and cause you to become resentful, judgmental and loathsome sooner that a lack of gratitude.

     Now people might say I am contradicting myself here with all of the love talk. Sorry, but no. Sure if loving an active addict can actually change him or her then great. Good luck with that. But you see, my wife and kids are not active crackheads. They light up when the dynamics are more positive and loving. And that’s only because I’m okay too.

     So let’s not go overboard here. When I was actively using or sober/not recovered and my family showered me with love, it couldn’t even begin to penetrate my iron shell of pride, selfishness, self-adulation, narcissism, pettiness and delusion. Addicts must be the ones to change. Not their families. I had to change, and then my family followed. The power rests with us.

     Bottom line: I had no idea how much power I had to literally define the entire dynamic and the peace and happiness of those in my family, but the truth is I do. We do. Addicts do. People can’t change us, but we can change people. So I will continue to be tough on addicts because love and ‘science and kindness’ don’t work for people like me. I was/am loved and still became an addict and still become a dick. Addicts are being told and treated the exact wrong way and this is producing near 100% failure rates. If addicts actually wanted to recover or if someone presented them with an actual solution, anybody could recover.

God, teach me to accept everything as it is and to better love people. Teach me how to make my family feel loved, safe, and comforted, that they may have greater peace, happiness and joy. 

Response to 18 Year Old Pothead

     A young pothead wrote me to tell me that his mom is a big fan but wanted some validation on a horrifying injustice he has been suffering at the hands of his mom, who has suspended his driving privileges for 30 days for smoking pot. Unbelievable! How could any parent not want their child to rip bong hits all day long? I don’t get it! Seems like an entirely reasonable request, regardless of the inconvenient fact that smoking pot all day long as his brain is still developing is beyond stupid or that he is still living under the roof of his parents who raised him from birth.

     But if you think that is a brutal injustice, wait till you here this: she has a glass of wine at night!!!! The hypocrisy!!! A parent in their own house drinking wine! It’s almost too much. I’m offended. In case you haven’t been able to deduce the powerful logic here, the argument goes something like this: if mom drinks some wine at night, I should be able to get lit up all day long like an idiot and drive around illegally doing absolutely nothing except putting others at risk. Again, a most tragic injustice indeed.

 

     Joking aside, I told him what I would tell anybody, and that is what your mom does or doesn’t do is irrelevant to the choices you make, as we are 100% responsible for our choices. She could wake up and smoke a foot long blunt and still have every right to demand that you do not smoke pot while living in her house or while driving around. I told him that instead of focusing so much on what mom and others do, just focus on YOUR life and what YOU are doing. Find a purpose. Find something productive to do. And if you are so okay, why can’t you stop? I told him that he is using his mom drinking wine as an excuse to smoke pot, which in his mind, somehow minimizes “just smoking pot.” And if none of those arguments make any sense, have a gander at what you look like sucking on a thick tube and see if that makes sense.

     The best was that he said she should have to stop drinking wine if he has to stop smoking pot, that it’s only fair. Look, besides being totally full of shit, he actually seemed like a nice kid. But sorry, you’re never going to get me to validate that kind of thinking. Also, I don’t feel bad for you. I feel bad for your mom. Like I said, if pot is really no big deal, as you say, then why don’t you just stop? Also, don’t tell your mom what to do, kiddo. One day you will realize how inappropriate that is… one day if and when you finally begin to grow up.
Also see: Pot

Meetings = Mild Form of Torture

     Sorry, had to do it. I had to write a blog or two during this little hiatus. It’s like when food builds up in the disposal and that sludgy food water starts building up in the sink and you just can’t wait to flip that switch and churn it up so the water can drain out. And yes this is a meeting rant, so if you are particularly defensive about your meetings, you should either click away or start rehearsing your angry troll response now 😉

     Before we get started, a recent email from a reader/incredible mom suggested I write a book to free parents from the shame and guilt they feel about their addicted children by exposing the fact that our addiction has nothing to do with them and is 0% their fault. Sounds like a great idea to me, and I’ve already thought of a title: “Blameless POAs“. Until then, I guarantee you that about 99% of these posts will also free you from unnecessary and unfounded guilt and shame 😉

     So I sucked it up like a big boy and actually hit a few meetings with my uncle. Torture. It was like attending community theater. I gotta stop going to meetings. It’s bad for my health.

     I said one, entirely non-aggressive thing about my experience the other night and the next guy says something like,

     “Steps? Like I should be crucifyin’ myself when I get sobah! The only important thing is just physical sobriety. Just bring the body! This ain’t no moral problem. This is a disease and it ain’t my f***in’ fault!”

     Then the next guy goes,

     “I don’t mind the steps but I ain’t no pusher.”

     Then the girl next to him says something like,

     “I just hate everybody. So needed a meeting. It’s been like two or three days since no meeting and that’s what happens. There’s really no other way to curb the resentments except to go to a meeting (um, write some inventory?)… I’m just not okay without meetings.”

    Let’s just take it from the top.

    1) Yes, you should be “crucifying yourself” and yes you should be taking Steps right away after getting physically sober (which is not an achievement). You are not indulging in self-pity by taking Steps and assessing your demented self with rigorous honesty (and perhaps just a speck of humility). Too much to ask? Oh, okay, sorry. I’ll never walk into a meeting again and have the audacity to talk about the Steps.

     ‘Resenting oneself’, on the other hand, is indeed quite selfish, as it actually is a form of self-pity, so we don’t go there. But we do shred our delusional, manipulative, dishonest, rude, selfish and destructive addict selves so that we are not empowering the wrong Self. We must rip the addict self apart at the seams to build the authentic self back up properly – based on the spiritual principles of honesty, courage and other-centeredness.

    2) No, just staying sober and “bringing the body” is not a solution, and I’m quite sure your family deserves more than that (if they still talk to you). Remaining in a state of misery and mental torture when the Steps are laid at your feet is just about the most selfish thing I can possibly imagine.

     3) Yes, it is a moral issue. While you drank so much that you now have an abnormal reaction to alcohol, um… how do you think you got that way? The entire point of getting sober is to change who we are, as that is why we drank so much to begin with. Selfishness, the primary cause of alcoholism, is most certainly a moral issue. Plus, good luck trying to stay sober, live a productive life and give to others while gleefully remaining an absolute douchebag.

     4) Yes, you should “push” the Steps. It is your responsibility to carry this message and tell all of the people around you who are clinging desperately to physical sobriety about the solution (which is actually the program that you guys are supposedly engaging in).

     5) Not okay without a meeting after two days in long-term sobriety? Trust me, I would have “double-dipped” (such an annoying, stupid term) if AA types didn’t become demonic at the thought of telling the poor thing that none of those resentments need to bring her down when we are given the solution of writing inventory to dissolve them (which, by the way, is not only suggested but described exactly by blue book sitting right in front of you 😉

     HUH?????

     Sorry that I don’t embody that cliche AA persona and talk in a really low, melancholy voice while staring down at my chair, wallowing in misery and self-pity. Sorry I’m not a victim of “my disease” of alcoholism. Sorry I’m not standing on the edge of a cliff 10 years into sobriety. Sorry I don’t “get” your watered-down, do absolutely nothing form of AA. Sorry I don’t base my program on my favorite bumper sticker slogan and make my Higher Power the handle of the coffee pot. Sorry I dare to commit horrible and offensive micro-aggressions (lol) towards everybody by talking about my relationship with God, a relationship that taking the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous elicited. Sorry I don’t have that Holier Than Thou AA asshole vibe thing goin’ on. Sorry I don’t need a social club and a ready-made identity to make friends. Sorry I don’t succumb to your insecure, fraternity-like pledging protocols.

     I had some troll one time tell me that instead of “judging people” (believe it or not, I’m actually trying to help), I should be going to these poor meetings and trying to share my experience. Okay, well, that’s what I tried to do, which I’ve attempted a thousand times before, and guess what? You could literally quote the Big Book in the meetings around here and people still have no idea what the Steps are or how to take (do) them.

     Anyway, this is why I stopped going and stopped caring about meetings years ago. One, because nobody wants to hear about God and the Steps in AA. And why is that?! Because two, the truth is that most alcoholics in “AA” aren’t alcoholics at all.  

     What?!!! How could it be?!

     Because they can all stay sober on their own power, without having any obsession removed, and without ever pausing the complete shithead act for an amount of time that can be measured.  Ooooooo, don’t step on our AA toes! Don’t talk about the Steps in here boy! LMFAO. Sad to see what this program has devolved into, especially when the most popular slogans in AA – “Just Don’t Drink”, “Bring the Body”, “Meeting Makers Make It” etc. – contradict the very principles and fundamental truths that the program was founded on.

I’ll Send a Book to Any Treatment Facility

     I just thought of this after a recent correspondence, but if any parents, spouses, addicts or alcoholics, including those who have previously reached out to me, would like me to send a copy of The Privileged Addict and/or Anybody Can Take Steps to any treatment facility or sober house etc. where your child/spouse is staying or has stayed, or where you are staying or have stayed, please feel free to email me the address at capeabody3@gmail.com and I’ll have my distributor send them out immediately.

     Thanks.

ACTS Now Available on Amazon ;)

*Don’t forget to review the book on Amazon (unless you hated it;) Thanks!
 http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/capeabody3
*Also will be available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo etc. very soon

  “Recovery is not a function of time. It is a function of what actions we take and at what frequency we take them.”   

     Do you know an addict or an alcoholic? Is it your son, daughter or spouse? Is it you? Or perhaps you have lost power over something else such as depression, anger, food, sex or gambling? There are few words that can describe the pain that a loss of power causes – the toll it takes on our minds, hearts and spirits, the endless ripple effects and the victims that lie in its wake. Shouldn’t those we love feel the relief and the freedom that the recovered have procured for themselves? And don’t we all deserve access to these powerful and life-changing tools? Anybody can lose power and therefore anybody can take steps.
   
     The Twelve Steps are not just that poster hanging on the wall during a meeting or support group. This program gives us a rigorous set of actions based on universal spiritual principles that we find at the core of any religious tradition throughout time. Please use and share this groundbreaking Twelve Step guide for a profound and cathartic spiritual experience of your own. Ask yourself if it is time to regain power and to effect real and lasting change in your life. Ask yourself if it is time to let go, find peace and become free. Trust me, there is nothing better in this world than simply being okay… so go for it.

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*P.S. To all parent or spouse readers: I purposely neglected to add a 4th Step resentment inventory example as if I was a parent resenting my child or a spouse resenting my spouse for being an active addict for several reasons. 1) I’m not a parent with an addicted child or a spouse with an addicted spouse. The book is based on my experience, so I kept the examples authentic to my personal experience. 2) I felt it was best not to take anybody else’s inventory. It’s much better to find the answers on your own. That said, if anyone is still confused down the road and would like a very general example of what that resentment would look like “turned around”, so to speak, let me know and I’ll post it either below or in the comment box. 

Taking a Break

James 1:26 – If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. 
Matthew 6:1 – Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  
 
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     Taking a little break to work on myself a bit. I may even start a local Step meeting, if you can fathom. People like me need to step back from time to time and check ourselves. I personally need to make a greater effort to pray and meditate more, nourish myself and my family, and oh yeah, have some fun. Hypocrisy is one of the worst of sins.

     If you value this writing and message, please help spread the word to others about the blog and the books. The Privileged Addict memoir is my own story intertwined with the education I received up North, as well as the specific process I undertook to recover and induce a mind-altering spiritual experience. Anybody Can Take Steps attempts to universalize the Twelve Step process and extract the various tools and actions contained within it for practical application. The Privileged Addict Quotes is a collection of some of the best quotes and passages from writing and blogging about addiction for the last several years. I will publish new editions as enough new quotes become available. Finally, for everybody who just wants free stuff, there are 500+ blog posts which can be read and that will probably crack (or at least confirm what you intuitively feel in your gut) your perception of addiction and recovery wide open.

     May God comfort you all and help the many addicts and families who still suffer find their way back to Him.

A Vision For You

     “Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us. 

     Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
     May God bless you and keep you—until then.” – Alcoholics Anonymous p.164
     I used, drank and selfishly wallowed in various mutations of severe depression and dysfunction for 15 years. I wanted to get better long before the run actually ended, but was stunted by an all too familiar foe: mainstream treatment methods. I knew deep in my heart that none of it would work, but at a loss and having had no exposure to the real solution, what was I to do? In 15 years, nobody so much as whispered the contents of the Big Book or their value, and yes, that includes countless meetings I went to over those years. 

     So I tried. I went to see social workers and shrinks. I talked about my Dad, the abusive babysitters, my nutso grandmother and all sorts of messed up shit I had been through. Lol, what a joke. I saw some of the most ‘prestigious’ psychiatrists at McLean hospital who were convinced that I had some sort of severe chemical imbalance, that addiction was not my primary diagnosis (as if there’s such a thing as primary, secondary, tertiary etc. diagnoses – acute this, presenting that, disorder 3a not otherwise specified etc. Joke). I tried different combinations of science projects like the dutiful, blind and incapable guinea pig that I was. I tried group therapy, relapse prevention, trigger identification, role play, harm reduction, exercise, jobs, girlfriends, school, traveling, Outward Bound, art, music, herbal remedies, homeopathy, self-help books, visualization, crystals, polarity, past lives, psychic scars, new-age bullshit and entire belief systems. And what did I learn?

     None of it could fix or heal what ailed me. It doesn’t work that way, despite popular belief. It wasn’t until I realized that drugs and alcohol had me and that I’d lost the power to do anything about it that I finally began to change in earnest. When I understood that I was not the smartest, most amazing and powerful thing in the Universe, I finally began moving forward and growing up.

     Soon after, I realized that while there are some things I cannot do, such as fix myself, there is a great and unlimited Power that can. As I allowed the “scales of prejudice” and arrogance to fall from me, the entire world shifted. Humility and action changed my life… and then the miracles started occurring. When you take spiritual action and actually see results, that’s when you realize that God does in fact exist and that His great and unseen Intelligence is well beyond the scope of human comprehension. As my mind was suddenly and forever altered, I stood there thinking Holy Shit! I knew deep in my heart that the force of God was mind-blowing in its power – limitless and capable of anything.

     The truth is that there is nothing God cannot do, and when you witness His power to heal, you understand that the solution to ALL of your problems is to simply do things that will get you closer to Him.

     I left treatment still weak and damaged – bridges burned, countless hurt, no job and tens of thousands in debt. Within two years, I had made amends to every person and institution on my list, my debt was paid in full, my college degree was finished, and I had started some groups, spoken publicly, worked with guys in the Big Book, and chased a bunch of teenage addicts around at some recovery school. More importantly, I had become a trusted friend and resource, and after years of uncertainty, suddenly became a rock for my family. YES, my mom doesn’t worry about me ever. From once sleeping with the phone and panicked 24/7, she lives in peace and knows with every cell in her body that I am recovered and will never use or drink ever again. If you want to confirm that, email me and I’ll give you her email.

    And then after those first two years, that’s when my life really began. The foundation had been laid and it was takeoff time.

     I sit here today with a few gray hairs, surrounded by my lovely family. We have a little boy, a baby girl and a rescue lab named Tabitha. It’s been over ten years and I have done more than I would have done in a lifetime as a non-addict. What’s next? Who knows and who cares… but I can tell you one thing, and that is if any of you truly want to get better, you can. You just simply cannot give up and you cannot stop moving forward. There is no secret, no complex modality, no miracle drug and no special new formula. The answer is HARD WORK and GOD.

     And you know what? I am grateful for my addiction. I would never have the amazing life and this access to the spiritual realm had I not suffered the dirty depths of opiate addiction and instead drifted aimlessly through life as your average, clueless, mundane zombie.

     But until we admit what is really going on inside of us, there will be no recovery and no absence of spiritual illness. The idea that there are external solutions for addiction that do not require hard work and other-centeredness fails to account for the very problem we are suffering from. However, doctors, scientists and many others today refuse to confirm this. The status quo continues to deny the spiritual nature of addiction and the moral necessity of recovery and therefore, we are beginning to see addiction and our selfish behavior rationalized and even justified under the guise of the disease model, a model that has been extremely contorted and widely misunderstood.

     Physical loss of power is permanent. Mental loss of power is temporary and can be restored, and once this occurs, we have the power of choice back and can simply choose to stay sober and grow spiritually for the rest of our once shitty, now amazing, lives.

Lord, please show us the way to freedom… 

October 16, 2014

An Allergy and a Mental Obsession

AN ALLERGY AND A MENTAL OBSESSION 

From The Privileged Addict, pp.83-91 (Copyright, 2012):

      “I did nothing for the first three days up North but chain smoke cigarettes. The staff refused to treat me until some of the fog burned off. Finally, after ripping apart my perception of conventional recovery and mainstream AA, I was offered a solution that really works. They began reading the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous to me like I was a child, or rather, a student. They taught me that I could recover completely… and for good. I don’t have to live forever ‘in recovery.’ There is hope for me and for every addict in the world.
     The beginning of the Big Book contains a letter from Dr. William D. Silkworth, who repeatedly treated AA’s co-founder, Bill Wilson, at Charles B. Towns hospital in New York. Towns Hospital was once a giant in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. But the doctor admits to the public and concedes to himself that he cannot help most chronic alcoholics and drug addicts despite a slew of medical and pharmaceutical options. He admits that advances in science and clinical treatment cannot effect change the way this spiritual program can. Inherent in his argument is the idea that “moral psychology” must be administered to cause sufficient change in the hopeless drunk. Man-made remedies often fail to change an addict into a better person. He is filthy from negative and destructive behaviors, thoughts and words. He is a caldron of mental illness and spiritual decay. He may have to grow from deep within to fully recover. He may have to live by moral principles. He may need something that isn’t tangible.
     So addiction isn’t my fundamental problem. The problem is spiritual. To be less abstract, it’s a life problem. Addicts refuse to live life on life’s terms. They refuse to grow up and walk through pain that everybody feels. They feel entitled to remain in their comfort zones even if doing so comes at the expense of others. They refuse to do things that push them outside of themselves. And so if my illness is spiritual in nature, then so must be my solution.
     Two fellow losers and I sat in an old, grungy room armed with a podium and chalkboard. The staffer looked at us. Time to smash a 1st Step into our brains.
     “Okay, you’ve achieved physical sobriety. Now what? What are you going to do?”
     We shrugged our shoulders.
     “Now what?” he says? I have absolutely no idea. 
     “Okay, so you have two problems besides the underlying soul sickness. One is physical; the other is mental. Physically, you’re screwed. Your body is damaged goods.”
     Great, that’s nice. 
     “You have an allergy to drugs and alcohol.”
     Here’s the allergy: I put a drug into my body and bang! Something happens. I snap when a drug, any drug, enters my bloodstream and saturates my brain. It takes hold of every atom of my being. I experience what the doctor who wrote to Alcoholics Anonymous refers to as the “phenomenon of craving” – a biological craving that supersedes any desire to stop. Nothing matters except more. The idea of having two shots of booze and stopping is absolute torture. Why even start unless there is enough to get obliterated and pass out? My wife has a sip of wine and puts the glass down. What the hell is that all about? I just don’t get it. I hurl mine down, then hers, then yours, then the rest of the bottle in the fridge, then I break into Pa’s house at two in the morning to steal his booze, and on and on until I’m out cold, in jail, or dead.       
      It’s not your typical allergy where you break out into hives, fever, anaphylactic shock. Nope. I break out into ease and comfort. All of the sudden I feel normal. All of the sudden my mind slows down and I can handle life, go to work, listen to you tell me about your day. So I break out into more. Sober, I can’t handle anything. You talk to me and all I hear is “blah, blah, blah…” If anything does pass through my mind, it’s when are you going to shut up so I can go get jammed? 
     But the real crux of my problem was what the Big Book referred to as a mental obsession. One staffer defined it as “recurring thoughts or ideas that don’t respond to ration or reason.” You can simply define this as insanity. I’m going along, everything is okay, no problem whatsoever… then I’m in your bathroom and I see some painkillers and not even a thought passes through my head. I reach out, grab the bottle and throw ‘em down. No conversations with my better half. No debating. Like a gun firing, it’s all or none. In those moments, the mind goes blank and ‘choice’ is no longer an ability that I carry. In those moments, everything I know about my tragic history just disappears. In those moments, insane thoughts seem reasonable and normal.
     Well, it’s okay ‘cause I’m just doing Percocet and not OxyContin. 
     Then: Well I’m still okay because I’m only doing OxyContin and not heroin. 
     Then: I’m definitely okay because I’m not shooting heroin, I’m just sniffing it. 
     Finally: I know I’m okay because I’m not homeless, toothless, and rotting away in some crack house. 
     Yes I know that I shouldn’t blow heroin, yes I know it’s wrong and I’ll ruin everything, but I don’t care. And even if I do care and I don’t want to lose my wife, job, family, savings… I go do it anyway. Put a drug in front of me and I turn into a dumpster, consuming everything in sight. I can’t stop. Nothing can stop me. You can’t stop me. Mom can’t stop me. Doctors can’t stop me. Pills can’t stop me. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra can’t stop me. Nothing human or man-made can stop me. I’m basically screwed.
     Over the years, of course, counselors told me that I relapse because of triggers. Let’s be clear: There is no such thing as a trigger. Nothing has to happen to make me want to use. I want to use all of the time. In other words, everything is a trigger. Breathing is a trigger.
     A trigger is just a flimsy excuse. It could be anything. It’s 2:00 in the afternoon – I need to get high. Just took a shower – I need to get high. I’m happy – need to get high. I’m angry – need to get high. It’s partly cloudy – good reason to get high. It’s partly sunny – good reason. I woke up – definitely a good reason. Existing, you see, is the only trigger I need.
     Counselors are one thing, but the PhDs always loved to dig in and find THE REASON.
     “Charlie, there must be a reason why you use. What is it, son? Is it the depression? Your family? Abuse? Were you hurt in some way? Are you angry?”
     Doctors, counselors, social workers, families, spouses, and non-addicts will go on trying to understand why we use the way we do, despite the consequences. Let me save everybody the trouble: There is no reason why addicts use and alcoholics drink. It’s not because I’m angry, sad, anxious, depressed, shy, emotionally withdrawn, or feel so alone. It’s not because I have ADHD, or bipolar disorder, or major depression, or some personality disorder. It’s not because of my parents or my “crazy” family.
     It’s not because I was abused by babysitters who stuck me in an inch of cold water, or who called me a child of Satan for pissing outside, or who physically assaulted me, or who made me brush my teeth every time I ate a marshmallow, or who left me home alone, or who stole my money to abandon me and go out with their boyfriend. It’s not because the cool kid pissed on my head when I wanted to hang out with his group of friends. It’s not because I was jumped and attacked three times in Vermont during college. It’s not because my Dad is an isolated and depressed alcoholic who didn’t hang out with me much. It’s not because he was prone to fits of rage and dragged my sister around the house. It’s not because of my genes or any predisposition to alcoholism or depression. Even if that were scientifically true, which it now appears to be, I’d never have set it off in the first place had I not drunk over and over and over. Nothing in this world is responsible for me becoming a drug addict and an alcoholic besides myself. And I put a hell of a lot of time and effort into my achievement.
     The best advice addiction specialists and modern AA has to offer is to tell addicts and alcoholics to avoid people, places and things that make them want to use. Fantastic. Now I have to stay away from everything and everyone and I’m completely miserable. What a life! If that were my fate, I’d have to spend all of my time planning how to get from my house to work.
     Hmm… I can’t go down this street because my buddy lives there and I got high there once, but I also can’t go down that street because one of my dealers lives there. Hmm… I can’t go this way because there’s a liquor store on the corner, and hmm… I can’t go that way because I had a really good time using at that park one day. Gee, I guess I can’t go anywhere. I guess the only way I’ll be able stay sober is if I lock myself up in a cage and never go anywhere! 
     But guess what? That’s not the kind of solution I’m looking for. How about being a free man no matter where I go?
     That is precisely the reason why I wrote this book. For fifteen years, I have tried everything I could think of to get better and have failed. Why? Why do roughly one in thirty addicts actually stay sober after conventional forms of treatment? That is one horrible statistic.
     The first problem was listening to other people. Especially anyone who was not a recovered addict. Take therapy for example, a treatment method that allows me to continue doing absolutely nothing. Sure I gain insights about myself, but do I walk out of the door and apply what I’ve learned? Dad blew tens of thousands of sweat-earned dollars sending me to top of the line psychologists and psychiatrists. Poor guy. It may sound silly, but the reason it failed is because all we did was talk. Sorry, talking is not a solution. Addicts talk enough, in and out of therapy. I realize that talking is the therapeutic method, but it’s virtually useless for someone whose primary concern in life is obtaining drugs and getting high. I left my fifty-five minute sessions totally unequipped and with no instructions other than to show up the following week. How am I supposed to apply psychology without the tools or the power to do so?
     Next up, we have the self-help book method. I was a walking self-help book, with shelves that ranged from Buddhist meditation to healing the child within, from Christian mysticism to Ayurvedic remedies for depression, from creative visualization for my psychic scars to embracing the dark night of the soul. But will the books alone change me, or fix me, or make God present in my life?
     How many times did I sit in bed at night reading an old sage’s insights about not judging the thoughts in my mind and think, Yes, that’s it! I just discovered the sword by which to conquer all of my depression and addiction forever, only to wake up the next morning completely miserable and stuck in the same muddy pit of self-pity, frustration, and emptiness. Were all the books wrong? Of course not. It’s more like I didn’t so much as move an inch when it came to applying this stuff. Plus I’m not a Buddhist, or a born-again Christian, or a whatever. I’m a drug addict. I need a solution for drug addiction.
     What about Methadone maintenance? Doesn’t that at least keep me off the streets? What a tragedy. Still chained to addiction, there is no difference between Charlie on heroin and Charlie on Methadone. I’m jammed either way, so what happens really?
     How about some elaborate combination of psychotropic medications? Okay, how about I just put up a brick wall between me and getting better, a wall between me and God? There is no spiritual experience on drugs. Given the effects to my biochemistry, ingesting psychotropic drugs made it increasingly more difficult to heal or to be honest. What good is it to be blocked, numbed, and less than clear? Medications fueled my reluctance to do the hard work, let alone do it with purity, clarity, or thoroughness. Nope, meds weren’t powerful enough to expel this obsession. Besides, unless I take them forever, once I stop, I’m right back to where I started – insane and untreated.
     I also tried exercise routines. I got sober, went for a run, felt the endorphin rush, and thought I found the solution. I’ll just go to the gym everyday! Okay fine, but what happens if I can’t go one day? And oh yeah, I forgot that I’m still destitute inside. Soon I sink back into depression. Then I relapse again.
     I tried eating organic food, eating vegetarian, eating vegan. I tried St. John’s wart and a homeopathy called Lycopodium for the hole in my aura. I tried Outward Bound and being outside doing things that I love such as hiking and rock-climbing. I tried playing and composing music, writing poems and stories. I tried acting in theatre. I tried socializing more. I tried socializing less. I moved to Vermont. I moved back. I drove across the country. I drove back. I moved into Boston and got a job. I tried girlfriends. Maybe falling in love will get me better? But I relapse no matter what I try. Every imaginable remedy I have tried and failed.
     There is a fundamental problem with conventional treatment strategies: The thinking is backwards. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) professes to identify the faulty belief, change the belief, and act accordingly. Can we really expect an addict to change his faulty beliefs as he is? Do mental exercises really have the power to change the thinking of an addicted lunatic?
     Sometimes he must act his way into right thinking rather than try to think his way into right action. Crazy can’t think straight, but there’s fuel in action, and eventually the mind follows.
     That idea isn’t my own, as is the case with so many others. My sponsor is the one who worded it so beautifully, so for the record, he said to a group of people one night, ‘If I can’t think my way into right action… then I must act my way into right thinking.'” – The Privileged Addict, pp.83-91

Some Logic on Dopamine

Specialists now say that addicts lack endogenous opioids and need more dopamine (more drugs) and that is why they engage in drug-seeking behavior. The truth is that we need the exact opposite. We need to get used to being human. The frantic, neurochemical “let’s just medicate ’em!” crowd are not just dead wrong, but at this point they are becoming dangerous. Sorry.

*

     All drugs and alcohol act on the dopaminergic reward system of the brain. Neurochemically speaking, addicts essentially become addicted to increased levels of dopamine. Why? Not because of some shitty childhood or lack of connection, but because it feels good. Addicts like drugs and alcoholics like alcohol because they love the way it makes them feel. It’s purely selfish. We mutate ourselves into addicts and only we can mutate ourselves back into decent, productive, sober human beings, with the help of God, of course.

     At any rate, bio-chemical theories and pharmaceutical remedies will come and go, and all will fail miserably to heal, fix or change an addict, let alone prevent him or her from relapsing. While it is tempting to assume that drug addicts and those with depression just need more of what they seek, the fact is you are only perpetuating the addiction and depression by artificially raising levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.

     As far as addicts are concerned, behavioral neuroscientists, while certainly intelligent and doing their thing, are suggesting treatment models that are quite dangerous. This is a comment from some blog that advocates methadone et al, but sums up the lunacy that parents are being infected with today:

     “Some cases of ‘addiction’ are actually attempts to replace what is naturally missing in their bodies. In the case of opiate addiction, some, not all, are using it for legitimate mental health treatment [???]. While I do not advocate taking illicit substances to solve this, there exists a growing mountain of evidence supporting the notion that a lack of endogenous opioids inside of our bodies can lead to many illnesses, including depression [LOL. Wow.]. While not necessarily the case and knowing nothing of your situation, if your child has been suffering from depression for some time it may be worth looking in to.”

     Not only is that factually incorrect, but it is insane. Instead of supplementing decreased levels of dopamine with increased levels of dopamine, the truth is that we need the exact opposite. We need to get used to having and experiencing decreased or natural levels of dopamine, kind of like every other human being in the world who isn’t jammed 24/7. We need to get used to being human, and that means less dopamine and more suffering. Yup, more suffering. Trust me, addicts don’t need more opiates. Lmfao. 

     The notion today that addicts need more comfort and less humility is a degenerate and Godless philosophy that progressive, collectivist activists are infecting you with. It is wrong, it will fail every time, and it is a complete disservice to you and your addict to be swallowing this sort of bullshit and storing it up in the attic.

     Finally, the other half of status quo treatment today is from the sort of anti-stigma, kumbaya, PC crowd (clueless beyond words) and revolves around this notion that simply loving or getting addicts to feel “connected” is all they need. While that sounds great and all, it is also wrong.

     Addicts using and alcoholics drinking have absolutely nothing to do with not feeling connected or loved. Sure we (or anyone) will become disconnected by using or drinking year after year, but let me tell you, every actual addict I know basks in their dissociated, detached comfort zone. We much prefer our state of numbness and lack of intimacy… until we don’t. Most of us couldn’t care less about feeling connected. Dealing with people and relationships is quite frankly just a hassle for addicts and alcoholics. Trust me, we want to get high. Plus, addicts and alcoholics love chaos. We love sabotaging everything. We love building it up and then tearing it all down.

     From the preface of “The Privileged Addict” – “The active addict, or the sober yet untreated one, is a truly selfish being who harms nearly everything he comes into contact with. The ripple effect of his behavior is far reaching, as he gradually destroys all things precious in life.”

    I continue to hope and pray that addicts, families and all those who suffer find their way back home to the Lord. Addicts simply need to let go and accept life on life’s terms. By living in the moment and accepting everything, we can find some peace and just be okay with the way things are.