So is desperation a gift? It certainly can be, depending on the individual.
A good anecdote is a cocky teenager who drinks and gets high and is still having fun with it. Why would a clueless adolescent ingrate get better while he’s out there having a blast and hasn’t suffered any profound life consequences yet? They have no need nor any will to change because, let’s be honest, they don’t really have to yet. They are still in la-la land, and even when they have legal trouble, they usually get to walk right out. They haven’t lost their families, their bodies, their minds, and they have no understanding of money and the world, so they don’t feel the weight of survival and adult responsibilities. The twisted irony is that we don’t want to stop until we can’t stop – until we’ve completely lost control and no longer have the ability to stop.
I only wanted to stop when I could no longer stop on my own willpower. Some of the younger ones can still stop as they are not too far gone yet. But me? There is no way. I only became willing to change when I was so ravaged spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically that I actually believed I could not recover and would die like this. This is why hopeless addicts truly require some sort of divine intervention. Most of us cannot make it without spiritual help and without accepting both the presence and the power of God.
I only went to detox and eventually up North because I was out of options. I was broke and in tens of thousands of debt. I was emaciated and my body was finally breaking down. Mixing coke and heroin was soon going to blow my heart out. I was miles beyond hope and no longer believed it was possible to get better and live a life again. The level of my depression and spiritual destitution was seemingly terminal. I was unrecoverable. At the bitter end, I was only using to stay out of continuous withdrawals. It wasn’t fun anymore. Nothing was fun. I’d lost nearly everything – friends, some family, respect, meaning, purpose – my soul. If I hadn’t been this beat up, I can promise you that I never would’ve even considered going to a detox.
The sooner that using no longer becomes fun and is only a way to fend off withdrawal, the better. Sure you don’t have to wait until you’re rotting away in a crackhouse with 5 STDs and one tooth left, but the truth is that the worse we get (and not just with drugs but every other facet of life), the closer we are actually getting to recovery. This is why enabling doesn’t work. Why would we ever change or stop when we have everything we need, when we can sort of manage our addiction year after year, when we have you wrapped around our dirty, greedy fingers? Do not help erect any walls between us and God, whatever they may be. I’m sure you can figure out what those walls are. There are many.
So I for one will pray that any active addicts out there become as hopeless and desperate as hopeless and desperate gets. Only then might they see the futility in drugs and alcohol as a solution to their lives. Only then might we finally put aside our stubborn pride and selfish disbelief and reach out to God with everything we have left within. Only then might we begin to realize that our problem is not drugs and alcohol, it is life. Only then might we realize that not being okay is simply part of the human condition, that none of us are really okay, and that we do not have the right to drink and use drugs simply because we are human. Only then might we realize that it is okay to suffer. And when we embrace our suffering, that is the moment it begins to dissolve.