"Can the Brain Heal Itself From Prolonged Pot Use?"


Comment:

     Charlie, this is a really good post. Thank you for having the guts to say things as they really are. It’s so refreshing to hear someone talk like this, with zero fear of being politically incorrect.

     I have a question for you, please and thank you: Do you think that if someone has smoked pot for a really long time (say 30 years), that is has done irreversible damage to their brain? Or can the brain heal itself from even that long a period of abuse? 
Response: 

     Hey Matty, It’s funny because when I saw the subject line come in on email, I thought it might be someone to bash, but then I was refreshingly surprised. 

     With respect to prolonged pot use and brain damage, I think ultimately you’d have to take it on a case by case basis, depending on the individual who has it and the degree and type of damage.
 
    That said, anything is possible. I mean listen, brother, I did enough drugs and drank enough alcohol to kill a small town and I’m basically okay, having no lasting brain damage to speak of, by the grace of God. Measured against the first 28 years of my life, the last 13 following the Steps and consequent spiritual experience, I’ve been able to perform and succeed at a much higher level than before. 

     More importantly, I was also able to alter my brain bio-chemically and change its homeostasis, and I give credit not just to personal effort but to the power of God. Through repeated actions such as prayer and focused meditation, I changed what doctors believed was a permanent chemical situation. That is, I no longer suffer from depression (which is actually just a voluntary leaking of vital energy) and other such imbalances. There are no more wild swings, both high and low. And then cognitively, I can absorb, process and remember information as well as I did before, if not better. In addition to consistent meditation, prayer, service, inventory and education, vigorous exercise and eating properly can also help to repair the brain. Food can be the best medicine for a host of issues, though I’m certainly no nutritional hero, to say the least.

     So brain damage is not necessarily irreversible. Sure some damage is more difficult than others to reverse. Huffing certain inhalants, for instance, can cause significant damage to the hippocampus and other parts of the frontal cortex responsible for motor ability. Prolonged pot use also damages the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, but I think what’s important to remember is that when a person recovers from his or her deep-seated spiritual malady, they can suddenly become guided and driven by an entirely new set of guiding principles, attitudes and willingness to act. In this way, the previous effects of drug use can be mitigated by an opening up of other areas of his or her brain… and soul.

     Finally, the individual in question is the by far the most significant variable. How much work is he willing do to to repair himself? Is he willing to sit still in meditation everyday for two hours? Is he willing to pray? Is he willing to exercise his brain vigorously by continuing to read, write and learn? Is he willing to ask God for help? Will he ask God sincerely to repair his brain? Is he willing to serve others and in doing so, serve God. For the closer he or she gets to God, the more healing is possible. The power of God is unlimited and capable of anything, and thus, a person can certainly by touched just briefly by this power and be restored in full. That kind of miracle doesn’t always happen, but it does happen. And it generally happens to those who truly want it, who reach out with everything they have, who give up their self-will and who are willing to work tirelessly for it. 

     The final line in my book was, “So to dispel the false cliche and myth people don’t change, people do change: I am living proof.” Thus, if there is one thing to take away from this, it’s that anything is possible. Anything.

     Thanks for writing and God bless you, brother.  

"How Does One Get Through the Mental Obsession?"

Comment:

     This is really great stuff…but how does one get through the mental obsession? Is it best to just ‘watch’ the thoughts and recognize the addictive voice and let it pass? I would love to hear any solutions you have tried or know of…thanks.

Response:

     Ideally you want to have it lifted from you and rid yourself of it completely. We do this by having some sort of spiritual experience. When I began to engage in the Steps, I was engaging in a spiritual experience, and this can indeed lift the mental obsession from you. 

     Personally, I threw myself wholeheartedly into the Step process. I tried to be as thorough and fearless as I could be. I knew there was something spiritually wrong with me and I truly wanted to change and be okay. After writing the most thorough and honest inventory I could, I read it aloud to another, meditated for an hour, and then got down on my knees and recited the 7th Step prayer. The moment I finished, something inexplicable happened. I remember laughing and crying simultaneously and saying to myself, “Holy shit, it worked.” 

     I was touched by something so powerful and loving – God. I felt a this rush, this force of energy or power flow through me and from that point on, the obsession just disappeared. I sort of instantly stopped caring about drugs and alcohol and in fact began to repel anything that kept me from growing spiritually, anything that pushed me away from Him. I believe that if we really want to change and heal and be free, if we really want to be okay and we are willing to work hard for it and do anything it takes, God will lift the obsession from you. So by giving myself to the Step process and by earnestly giving myself and my will over to God, by letting Him direct me, the obsession was removed in return. Do the Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book and do them as thoroughly and fearlessly as humanly possible.

    That said, life and the world are tough. We will suffer and be challenged. And when we neglect the ongoing work, or perhaps when we begin to sink emotionally and choose to fight and resist those painful feelings, the obsession can perhaps creep back in. If that kind of thing happens, I used to pray…

“God, please remove the obsession to drink and use drugs.”
“God, please keep me close to you.”
“God, please help me turn my will over to you.”
“God, please teach me how to love you.”
“God, please help me to want to put You and my spiritual growth first.”
“God, please bring me the opportunity to help others.”

     That sort of thing. But don’t let your feelings stop you. Painful feelings are simply part of life. Don’t fight them or resist them. Instead embrace them. Sit down next to them and put your arm around them, as they are part of you. Love them as you love God.

     In addition to praying (pray hard), one fail safe is working with others. Go and take someone through the Big Book, or go speak somewhere, or find someone to help in some way. Service. When you engage with someone, it takes you out of your selfishness. Since you are actively giving and focusing on someone else and on God, you cannot stew and focus on yourself. Service takes us out of ourselves, and since self-focus is the process by which the obsession occurs, doing anything to take you out of yourself will usually do the trick. We get in trouble when we focus on ourselves too much, so go serve and give to others and you will be free. Don’t isolate. 

Thanks for writing and God bless you. 


Nothing Gets Done Without Action

“Action is the only truth.” 

– Marcus Aurelius. 
     Who we are and what we become is not defined or solidified by personal philosophy, academic knowledge, words, thoughts and beliefs. Character is purely a function of what we do and the purpose behind what we do. For addicts, and I suppose everybody else as well, we are only so much as we act. We can talk a good game, we can recite glorious platitudes, we can muse and contemplate, we can attend speeches of new-age faux gurus, we can become a walking self-help book and go to endless therapy sessions, we can whine, rant and shout, we can absorb so-called knowledge or propaganda from some loony professor, we can feed the ego in a tangled myriad of vaporous ways… and guess what? 
     Not only will none of it change who you are, but none of it will define you. We can only define people by what they actually do. Action is the only truth because it is the only process that ignites and effects real change and molds us into something solid and consistent. Nothing can truly be accomplished without action. This is not only true with recovery but all of life. You cannot acquire a skill set without ever doing it, and doing it repeatedly. You cannot live a life of service if you never actually go serve and help others. You cannot undo addiction simply by learning about it or acquiring self-knowledge. Addiction must be manually extracted, if you will. In other words, if addiction is acquired by way of a series of selfish actions, there is no ridding oneself of it without a series of selfless actions.
     So you cannot educate yourself better. Sure you must know what to do, but there is no changing until it is actually done. You cannot think yourself better. You cannot talk yourself better. You cannot will yourself better. You must act yourself better. I’ve noted before why CBT therapy fails to effect change in someone as broken as an addict. CBT is essentially identifying the faulty belief, altering the belief, and then changing the way one acts. The problem is addicts are so damaged, our minds cannot possibly think straight. Addicts have to just start acting first and then the mind will eventually follow. The mind cannot shift, bend or change fundamentally without repeated action. So we cannot think our way into right action, we must rather act our way into right thinking.
     I’m sure anyone who has tried to think their way better or somehow think their way into a different human being can attest to its failure. You can read the answer in a book, but you will still wake up in the morning stuck in the same old rut – depressed, angry, confused, anxious and unmotivated. You don’t just magically become motivated. You get up off your ass and simply do one little thing, and the act of doing something will generate motivation. The more action, the more motivation. The more action, the more change. The more action, the more character. The more action, the more strength, stamina, courage, honesty, appeal, effectiveness, success and contentment. 
     And for all of the selfish addicts out there, the good news is the more action, the better you will feel, as for addicts it’s all about feeling good. Or perhaps that doesn’t just apply to addicts anymore, what with the tragic snowflake generation of today. I would say I’m deeply disturbed if not altogether terrified of the future when observing the mellenials of today, but I’ve learned that we cannot control that which lies outside of us. We can only change what lies within. It is infinitely more peaceful to accept life and the world the way it is. Accepting what is happening is an indication that we believe in and accept ourselves. We can still comment on it, as I enjoy doing, but when we go to pieces and start screaming at the sky in agony and feigned moral outrage, the only thing we really hate is ourselves. That, I’m afraid, is the truth whether you want to believe it or not. Much of the hysteria you see is just self-loathing.
     I can’t find the exact quote, but Marcus Aurelius also said something to the effect of, ‘There is no impediment which prevents a man from doing what needs to be done… and if there is one, it is only his own mind.’  This is what addicts and those treating them must understand. Anything is possible. Addiction is not a terminal disease nor is it a lifelong curse. It is but a temporary state of spiritual sickness and loss of willpower. And there is nothing that prevents any addict from getting better other than his own cowardice, laziness, weakness and narcissism. Why is anyone surprised by the failure of an addict to get better who fails to put down the pity pot, who blames anyone and anything but himself, and who truly believes he or she is a victim. They only thing preventing such a person from recovering is not the fact that he is addicted, but the fact that he is delusional and refuses to stop behaving like a child who flops to the ground crying and screaming when it’s time to get dressed and go to school… like my 3-year old this morning.
     Marcus Aurelius understood this nearly 2,000 years ago, yet still today we are doomed to repeat history and fall prey to the same blindness today. We still think we can get better and change and become someone or something without action. This is in part the result of the poisonous, depraved and degenerate philosophy of envy, blame and victimhood you see being promoted today by those who do not understand the backwards idiocy and failure of Marxism. It is in part the result of the disgusting identity politics and political correctness of today that is destroying our country and tearing apart the very fabric of society. They will never see the error in their thinking so long as they remain so arrogant and smug, convinced they are the smartest one in the room, convinced they are right simply because they feel right and feel superior. Ironically, the moral and intellectual superiority has actually made them ineducable, almost brainwashed, and is sort of dumbing them down to the point of total ineffectiveness. Many of them actually appear to me to have gone insane.
     If you want something, WORK for it. You don’t just change things and get what you want by crying and screaming like an infant. You don’t just walk into your first job serving coffee and demand a $20 minimum wage and then cry injustice and discrimination and racism and sexism and ten other isms and then take the poor business owner to court because you don’t get exactly what you want or because his rules and policies make you feel uncomfortable or challenge you. You work your way up, like everybody else has to do. What is happening to us? Well, I know what is happening, but I feel like I’m in the minority.
    Apparently now, along with the ever-expanding list of things that are racist, sexist, bigoted and hateful such as Dr. Seuss, oompa loompas, yoga, math, grammar, English class, grilling hamburgers, cows farting, singing Jingle Bells, farmer’s markets, biological pronouns, last names with “-man” like Newman, any noun the “man” in it like “mankind,” certain street names, buildings, statues, hiking in nature, hiking gear, skiing, wearing latex gloves, having friends, having a best friend, Halloween (cancelled at a local school and renamed Orange & Black Spirit Day to be inclusive enough), daughter-father dances, mother-son dances, my 3-year old daughter’s Else dress (also her Moana dress), my 5-year old boy who likes dancing and being tickled but was born a white male (no doubt a racist – liberals say he was born racist. He also doesn’t like wearing dresses and prefers a binary pronoun when addressed so there must be something wrong with him), me because I exist, the Christmastime cups at Starbucks, Christmas trees, Christmas, Christians, Christ, God, freedom, free speech, free thinking, working, making money, wanting to keep the money you make, having money, having a job, having a house, starting/having a business, painting your house white, painting your house black, wearing a white t-shirt, wearing a black t-shirt, any hat with the flag on it, any hat that is partially or fully camouflaged, discussing Islamic doctrine, not bashing Christians, using facts when arguing with a liberal, winning an argument with a liberal, referring to historical or economic facts, mentioning the cyclical output of the sun’s energy output or cloud theory, football, college football, the national anthem, anyone who doesn’t kneel for the anthem, NFL owners (i.e. “slaveholders”, even though these guys make millions of dollars a year and bang supermodels every night for throwing a ball – horribly oppressed), the solar eclipse, anyone who doesn’t want to have sex with a transgender person, anyone who doesn’t want a dude to whip out his junk in front of my little girl in the girl’s bathroom, the nuclear family, family in general, getting married, eating three meals a day, having babies, white cars, black cars, buying gas, buying food, feeding the poor healthy food in place of food stamps/cash, not including pet food in the snap program, going to church, having both white friends as well as non-white friends, the American flag, liking the country (even a little), using the word America too much, asking a girl out, telling a girl they look nice, referring to your students as girls in an all-girl school, referring to your students as boys in an all-boy school (your supposed to say, “good morning humans” or “good morning persons” or “good morning people” or “good morning they, theirs, xe, xie or xen”, otherwise you’re a bigot), referring to your wife as your wife, not giving your kid a trophy when they lose their soccer game (or temper), giving your kid a trophy when he wins his soccer game (or behaves like he’s supposed to), expecting people to show up on time, a store locking frequently stolen items in a glass case (my God, they are so stupid. Um, I’m pretty sure Walmart doesn’t give a fuck who steals the items; I’m pretty sure they just don’t want people stealing the items. They issued an apology but shouldn’t have. A local stop and shop does the same thing with baby formula. They don’t lock it up because they are racist. My town is 85% white, 8% Asian and then you do the math. They lock it up because people with no money need baby formula. They lock it up because people with no money and no job have a shitload of kids, and when they do, refuse to breast feed so their beasts don’t lose shape even when many if not all of them could breast feed, which is better for the child and oh they wouldn’t have to steal formula from stop and shop) etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…

     …coin tosses are now racist, too. An Olympian who recently lost a coin toss to carry the torch claimed it was due to racism. I guess the coin flippers thumb was racist as he must’ve known exactly how many revolutions it would take to land on the head or tail. Doesn’t matter that coin tosses have a statistical probability of 50/50. My God they are so stupid. In the mind of a liberal, facts don’t matter, especially facts that don’t fit into their breathtakingly insane ideological fundamentalism.

     Oh, and apparently now rotten tomatoes is banning any reviews of the new Black Panther movie that are not good reviews, so even if you genuinely didn’t like the movie and gave it even a somewhat negative review, you’re a racist. That’s right. You now have to think exactly the way liberals want you to or you’re an evil, facist, Nazi racist… even though that’s exactly what fascist Nazi’s did. One comedian remarked that she didn’t want to buy tickets the opening weekend for she did not want to “suck the black joy out of the theater” and asked how long was appropriate to wait before she went. Um, wait, I thought segregation was bad. Guess not. Oh, and the current new media darling is Kim Jun Il’s sister, the sister of an “actual” tyrant whose regime has engaged in rape, torture, starvation, murder, gulags, and imprisoned people who weren’t sad enough when his father died. Yeah, okay. 

     Have they added liberalism to the DSM-V yet…? If they haven’t, I think it’s time. The funny thing is none of those things are racist, bigoted, intolerant or hateful except the people claiming they are.

     Lol. Forgive the rant. They’ve just become so annoying these days and, quite frankly, nuts, I really couldn’t help it. They all seem to be under some kind of spell. 

"My Son’s Therapist Told Him He Shouldn’t Be Working" Seriously? Does He Need A Blanky, Too?

Comment:

     I remember when my son’s therapist at his first rehab told me that he should not be working and he needed to focus totally on his recovery. My response was, well that would be nice, but it’s not an option, I cannot afford to support an adult child. My son even disagreed with the counselor telling him that idle time was his worst enemy. So many people I know with addicted adult children bear the financial burden of taking care of them for years…… I just don’t see how staying home, sleeping late and doing NOTHING all day helps them recover. Then there are the 90 day rehabs then onto a sober living home for a year or more. I could not do that for my son, I did not have the financial means. Maybe I am crazy but I wanted him working. When crises happen in my life and there is addict drama and I am having a meltdown it isn’t an option to leave my job to “recover”.

Response:

     Well said.

     Working is a part of recovery, and an integral part at that, especially when we have been walking backwards for so many years and owe financial amends to many. In fact, failure to make amends to our creditors, our friends and our families in this way is a direct path to relapse. The entire point of recovery is to finally stop depending on and taking from those who have had to carry our weight for so long.

     Sure at times we must go heavier in one department vs another, but our recovery is wholistic and involves working, spiritual and family. We must balance all three, but neglecting either is not an option. This is why therapists have no business working with addicts. They do not understand addiction. They have not recovered themselves, nor have they sufficiently studied the Big Book.

     And I agree with you profusely about your last point. We addicts get sick by our own selfishness, tear everything apart, break your heart and then it is we who get to go away to our cushy treatment centers to nourish our souls and work on ourselves, when the truth is that our families deserve a retreat more than we ever will, and yet, they are the ones who must remain to trod on and deal with everything.

      It’s very similar to the way the government treats the middle class. He who works the hardest and does the right and responsible thing gets screwed the most, despite the fact the taxing people is deflationary and therefore depresses economic growth. 

     To note, I’m no example and have never claimed to be. I make mistakes constantly and have a lifetime of work to do on myself. In fact, I’ve often pleaded with readers not to follow me or take my advice, that we must all find our own answers. I’ve simply come to understand my own addiction and recovery through bitter experience and eventual success. So don’t listen to anyone. You know in your gut what feels right and what feels wrong. You know what makes sense and what smells like total bullshit. 

     Getting a job, however, is something I think we can all agree is somewhat fundamental not just to recovery, but to, um, being an adult. I know that’s tough for the youth to understand these days when they need exams cancelled due to emotional stress and free counseling sessions and cry-ins at the mere thought of a conservative speaker coming to campus, but somewhere out there, the real world exists and it’s probably more useful to enter it rather than throwing tantrums and angrily demanding to rest easy in their allocentric, ideological bubbles and safe spaces. At some point the pacifier needs to come out, don’t you think?

Recovery = Dealing With Your Shit

“Escaping consequence is no privilege or blessing.”

“Sorry Mom, sorry Dad, I have a disease!”
     The above caption is just one of an infinite number of excuses, none of which, like so-called “triggers,” have anything to do with reality. Asserting that your “disease” made you steal your grandmother’s Oxycontin is the same thing as saying a cardboard box triggered you to go drink. See “Excuses of an Addict” for a good laugh.

     That said, to go from a physically sober nightmare to a recovered person, the addict must, to put it lightly, deal with their shit. The physically sober addict is not only a child, but is also a ticking time bomb. He or she is filled to the brim with emotional and spiritual poison, having racked up a lifetime of resentment, fear and sexual misconduct. As well, patterns and behaviors such as dishonesty, manipulation and selfishness that destroy relationships and tear hearts apart have essentially become hard-wired in the addict or alcoholic.

     So does anybody think these things are just going to magically disappear when the addict gets sober? Moreover, for anyone who thinks any kind of therapeutic program that simply complements suboxone or methadone use will lead to anything but disaster is sorely mistaken. In fact, addicts on methadone are actively growing sicker on every level. All of them WILL relapse, and when they do, the run they go on will be epic, if not end their lives, as we are dealing with a coiled spring. Good solution. Oh, and the idiotic progressives in government actually have to audacity to make taxpayers subsidize methadone clinics. Truly, we live in a fallen world.

     Dealing with our shit is to identify and understand the mountain of both inner and outer work that lies before us. A written inventory, if done fearlessly and thoroughly will encompass resentments, fears and sexual misconduct that goes back to the earliest of childhood memories. We must then peel back layer upon layer of bullshit to find the truth about how we ourselves birthed these resentments and fears. Though we may pull our hair out and scream that we were the victims of some event, somewhere in the ether of truth is our culpability. It is our own self-seeking, selfishness, dishonesty and fear that caused our resentments. And if this stuff isn’t expelled via shining the light of truth and personal responsibility on them, they will destroy us as effectively as drugs themselves. Resentment and fear are emotional and spiritual poisons.

     Of course, writing about three to five thousand answers on how we caused our own anger and resentment is just the icing on the cake. We have left a behind us a wake of destruction – relationships, bridges, debts, personal failure and unfinished business of all sorts. We are stunted, and haven’t progressed and matured as we should have… and thus the amends and rigorous work begins. Amends, by the way, to our family and friends, especially our parents, never ends. The last thing they need is some rehearsed soliloquy of remorse. I’m quite sure they’ve had enough of us talking and blabbing on and on and on. How about we shut up and let them do the talking at their own convenience. I’m sure they might have a few words for us at some point.

     What they want is for us to change, to grow up, to act like a decent, kind, respectful, honest and helpful human beings day after day, month after month, and year after year. And they should. After walking backwards for so long, we certainly have a tremendous amount to give back. Addicts on methadone or suboxone are going to be absolutely useless to anybody. And recovery is synonymous with being useful. I personally had to work 24/7 to recover. It was imperative that I try to repair relationships and broken hearts, get out of debt, finish school, work my ass off, take other addicts through the Big Book, run groups, write, educate, etc. etc. etc.

     Furthermore, we have a plethora of unfinished busisness – school, jobs, the acquisition of skill sets, knowledge and life wisdom have all taken a serious hit. The sober addict must work and progress constantly, running full speed ahead and never looking back. Fuck ten years of therapy and being coddled like the mellenials of today who are taught they never should have to feel discomfort or suffer rejection of any kind. Forget this nanny state nonsense. If you want your addict to act like a whiny little child who expects everything for free with the least effort possible, then yeah, keep giving them participation trophies and sobriety chips.

     Recovery = dealing with your shit.

     Trust me, the worst thing you could possibly tell an addict is that his addiction has nothing to do with the selfishness ingrained in his personality or his willingness to do the wrong thing to others (and subsequent indifference). This MUST be considered a real part of the problem. 
     If all we do is tell addicts they have an innate, involuntary disease and that all associated behaviors are but symptoms, they will happily excuse themselves of any and all accountability when it comes to the wrongs they have committed, and if we do this, we are perpetuating the very sickness which haunts them and causes pain to so many. 
     By explaining (excusing) all aspects of addiction to brain chemistry (a brain which, by the way, we destroyed ourselves, as the process of losing choice is very much a choice) we are simply biding time until the next relapse, allowing addicts to immaturely glorify the SELF while continuing to hurt people. I truly doubt you are looking forward to more of the same.
     Clearly, the progressive and morally relative implications and assumptions made by the modern disease model are ruining treatment in America and they are pushing addicts to repel all sense of moral responsibility and any connection to God as radical and inappropriate. Sorry, folks, but that’s what you get when you allow the pendulum to swing this far towards collectivism and cultural Marxism, and away from freedom and personal responsibility.

     “I don’t need no 12-Step, do-the-right-thing bullshit, Ma! I just need my freakin’ dones and seroquel bitch… and someone bettah pay for that shit son! Now gimme some money, bake me some cookies and shut the fuck up, ma dukes! Oh, and please don’t say get a job or none of that shit to me ’cause that’s like a really offensive micro-aggression yo. That’s some racist bullshit khed!”

     LOL. Right, okay.