Charlie- Your story is just that — your story. I am 2 1/2 years sober and I do not struggle, I do not live day-to-day. I have my story and my experience. When I look back, I have to agree with the person that commented on your blog. For people struggling, and there’s more during the pandemic and its effects, I don’t think they should reject the “disease model” and embrace their selfishness simply based on your experience. There is a lot of work behind the disease-based addiction model and I found it meshed remarkably well with my experiences. I felt compelled to reply, which I seldom if ever do, because I think you may be unintentionally doing others a disservice and may dissuade them from getting the help from a science-based, medically supervised rehabilitation program that they may need to be successful in their story of addiction. Dave
I personally have never seen anyone become recovered by clinically addressing the so-called science of addiction with methods such as substitution drugs, relapse prevention or harm reduction, all while neglecting what lies underneath. Our problem is really not drugs and alcohol and whatever temporary bio-chemical changes that may ensue, as these elements are a mere side-show. Look deeply and you may discover that substances and substance use are byproducts or symptoms of an underlying soul sickness. They are a false solution to our true problem – Life. We don’t suffer from drug and alcohol use but from a spiritual/emotional malady that effects how we respond to nearly every aspect of life. Of course, part of this is simply the human condition, so we addicts are neither unique or special, nor do we deserve some sort of trophy or pat on the back for ceasing to do what we never should have done to begin with. All human beings suffer, but we are just a special kind of cowardice and obstinacy. I might also check with your parents, spouse, children and loved ones and ask them if they agree that you should be rejecting the cause/condition/presence of selfishness. I reckon you will benefit longer-term by what they might have to say. I would also read the Big Book, ‘We Agnostics,’ ‘How it Works’ and ‘Into Action’ etc. and if that does not resonate with your experience than you are most likely not an addict or an alcoholic to begin with. If you can stop and get better on a non-spiritual basis then addiction isn’t your problem. To simply run one’s life on self-will is selfish. No one is saying that is necessarily evil, but for the addict or the alcoholic, it does not work. We will fail each and every time. When we do not stop and ask God to guide us before rushing out in the morning, the rest of the day is, generally speaking, a complete disaster. Why is that? Knowing the answer to that question and what to do about it is the most important thing in the life of an addict. It is the very crux of our problem – self-will. Why? Because we are not okay. We are maladaptive. There is no neutral position for us. We are are either moving forward and getting better or moving backwards and becoming sick again. We cannot simply float by. Floating is sinking. Try asking God to direct you throughout the day. “But Charlie, that’s nonsense, why would I do such a thing? God has nothing to do with it. I don’t even believe in God!” Because regardless of my story or your story, He knows better than me and He knows better than you. Do me a favor and write me back in another couple of years and let me know how it’s going with the medically-assisted program and the removal of personal responsibility via the disease model. I’m assuming by medically-assisted you mean Suboxone or perhaps other psychotropics under another false guise of ‘dual-diagnosis,’ which, by the way, is also convenient propaganda for the pharmaceutical industry et al. Regardless, Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate you reading and commenting.
Alcohol use disorder/ substance use disorder/ severe depression are not caused by selfishness of self-centeredness. Those theories are rooted in old moralizing tales of how to treat addiction and illness in general. Unfortunately many of us are not only used to the stigma but we self stigmatize and start to believe things like that. It’s simply not true. Yea can working on humility help a person thrive/ live a more balanced life? Sure. Are we, as people who struggle with mental health problems and substance use issues, inherently selfish and immoral. Fuck no. Response: Let’s just take it from the top…
“Alcohol use disorder/ substance use disorder/ severe depression are not caused by selfishness of self-centeredness.”
There is actually no other cause EXCEPT selfishness and self-centeredness. Why do we drink or use? To ply ourselves with physical pleasure. The only thing that motivates drug and alcohol use is selfish desire, fed in part by self-pity, which is a form of selfishness resulting from self-centeredness. It is also fed by the desire to achieve greater comfort no matter what the cost. We are not victims, my friend. All people on Earth suffer and many do not indulge in pleasure that is self-destructive or other-destructive. But the very act of using or drinking is a selfish act and thus becoming an addict is literally caused by selfishness. Conversely, we only recover through unselfish action. Sorry but there is no way you or anybody else can intellectualize your way around that. Feelings are not facts… nor is ideology or what you are spoon fed by the media. I understand that it is instinctive to become defensive of your drug and alcohol use, to rationalize and justify it somehow, but there is no justification, and it is nobody’s fault but your own. Quite sadly, it is especially prevalent in the progressive, depraved, morally relative culture of today not to hold oneself accountable for drug use, or anything else for that matter. The problem with us is not drugs and alcohol, it is who we are, who we have become. The solution, therefore, is to fundamentally change the person and to expel the darkness, the filth and the sin that lies within. Trust me, all of the addicts out there who believe themselves to be spiritual or fundamentally good/nice people are acutely damaged souls suffering from delusions of grandeur. There is nothing nice about what we do to ourselves and to others. That does not mean that we do not have certain abilities or talents or some inherent goodness, but underneath the addiction is a sick person, a selfish person, a person who is clinically preoccupied with his life, his feelings, his thoughts, his needs, his wants, his ambitions and on and on. If you look deep enough and are completely honest, you will see that the person who uses cares not of others. His or her primary focus is on protecting his comfort zone etc. It is all about us and our agenda, and herein lies the primary issue. The person who drinks and uses is a narcissist of sorts, regardless of any good. Trust me, this is the truth. Reasons are a side-show. Reasons are excuses and diversion and distraction and bullshit. There are no reasons. It has nothing to do with mom and dad and spouse and this and that and anything else outside of ourselves. Once again, we are not victims of anything. Victimhood is a state of mind and it is a rather juvenile and ignorant excuse to drink and use drugs.
As for depression, sorry, but that is also a function of this pathological focus on self. The person who is obsessed with oneself – ones feelings, ones thoughts, ones life, ones relationships, ones worldly interactions and ambitions and successes and failures is the person who develops depression. Depression cannot exist without such an intense self-preoccupation to the point that we extract or leak vital energy from our beings. Self-obsession is agonizing and torturous, but it is self-induced. Self-consciousness and insecurity and other bitter and exhausting feelings are the direct result of excessive self-focus, self-seeking, dishonesty and fear. Just as addiction, it is a self-induced and self-maintained spiritual/emotional malady. Try God. It may be difficult to wrap your head around this and yes it may be painful and infuriating to hear, but underneath the labels, underneath the science and the chemistry and the symptoms and manifestation of it all, there is the truth. And the truth is that people who do not obsess over their selves, people who serve, work hard, have purpose and meaning do not become depressed. They are too busy living life. They also have enough maturity and intelligence to understand that even when life gets rough and feelings become strong and overwhelming, they do not resist (what you resist will persist). They understand that this is just human life. They understand that these are just thoughts and feelings and they are all part of us. They embrace them, befriend them, and continue walking through their negative, defeating thoughts and fears. They continue to work hard and do what needs to be done. In doing so, the feelings and thoughts move through them with haste instead of becoming stuck, swelling into a monster and eventually crippling them. Many people are simply too busy working to get depressed.
My advice to those who suffer from depression is to start working 80 hours a week and you won’t have time to feel depressed. You won’t have time to have enough thoughts to wallow about until you sink into a depression. Try getting busy enough and depression will not even be part of your vocabulary. It is generally a malady of the affluent, truth be told. Many working-class countries that are not Nanny States like America do not even have the term or malady of depression. Our deviant, Marxist culture of entitlement has produced an endless myriad of ridiculous mental and personality disorders. The entire DSM is the result of our cultural obsession with SELF. Sure I will get panned for this response, but I don’t care. My purpose is to call it like I see it based on my experience and the knowledge I have gained from my experience. Try Zen meditation for 2-3 hours a day for 1-2 years straight and you will alter your brain chemistry completely. Oh, and the rest of the time work hard and help others. Bye bye depression.
“Those theories are rooted in old moralizing tales of how to treat addiction and illness in general.” Hunh? I’m not sure I follow. Let’s just present this one without comment.
“Unfortunately many of us are not only used to the stigma but we self stigmatize and start to believe things like that.” So actually, the stigma of drug and alcohol addiction is a good thing, not a bad thing. What are stigmas? They are behaviors etc that as a society we collectively abhor because of their qualities and effects on self, others and communities. What good does using drugs and drinking do? Is it not indulgent, distasteful and grotesque? Does it not cause harm and heartache to ourselves and our loved ones? Do we not engage in vile behaviors such as lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving, manipulating and abusing? Do we not rip out the hearts of our parents, spouses, children and friends? Do we not exhaust them and stress them and suck from them every ounce of energy and love and time and resources? What is not to stigmatize about that? And who wants to be that guy? Who wants to be the toothless, STD-ridden crackhead under a bridge somewhere? We SHOULD stigmatize drug addiction so that it is something that WE addicts also abhor! We should stigmatize it so that we addicts seek to literally run the other way, so that we seek to repel drugs and alcohol as spiritual and emotional poison. By not stigmatizing this sort of behavior, we are tacitly re-defining it as benign, as not unattractive, as some sort of normal response to the stress of human life. This new-age medical model is beginning to justify and rationalize our atrocious behavior and doing so is the absolute antithesis of self-honesty and true recovery and change. Ridiculous.
“It’s simply not true.” Um, yes, it simply IS true. And the sooner you begin to embrace the truth, the sooner you will begin to actually grow and get better. The problem centers in the mind, not the body. Ask any recovered person and they will confirm this for you.
“Yea can working on humility help a person thrive/ live a more balanced life? Sure. Are we, as people who struggle with mental health problems and substance use issues, inherently selfish and immoral. Fuck no.” First of all, people who live in humility do not become addicts. It is a rare quality, to be sure. Second, the humbling of any drinker or drug user is literally the necessary foundation of any recovery. The act of growing and changing and recovering involves nothing BUT humility and the loss of selfishness and self-centeredness. Third, as far as addiction is concerned, I have never once written that we are “inherently” selfish and immoral. We make our choices after birth and become addicts due to the choices we make after birth. But if you want to have a philosophical discussion about our inherent nature, which I suspect you do not, the truth is, and I hate to disappoint you, but we human beings are indeed inherently selfish and immoral. Life is a spiritual journey to attempt to rise above our banal and primal instincts and to become more God-like. And whether we fail or succeed at this journey is our choice. Which choice will you make?
I appreciate and respect your courage to put yourself out there the way you have and your view on things. You have a good perspective on things and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. I am one of the few members of my family that isn’t an addict. I have dealt with addiction as a sister, daughter, care taker at a drug rehab facility and as a friend but now I also am dealing with it as a mom. Completely different ball game… My daughter has been clean for 3 years and is doing very good as far as not using. However she is so self obsessed it is creating a lot of problems. She was not self obsessed as a child or before the addiction. It was quite the other way around. She was always taking care of and thinking of everyone else and a very considerate and thoughtful person. So now when it has been hinted at that she is being selfish in some way she gets very upset and hurt. She hasn’t noticed or come to terms with the fact that she is so self absorbed. It is a VERY loaded subject and I am afraid it may be a trigger. How do you tell a person that used to be the most caring and considerate person you know that their addiction made them self absorbed? She deserves all kinds of props for kicking the drug habit. I just don’t think she knows that there were other ‘habits’ that formed while addicted, that need to be addressed and that can be kicked as well. Also how does a person stop being self absorbed. I really appreciate your time and hope you have some suggestions ~Julia
The very act of becoming an addict is selfish. Simply to ply the mind and body with a substance for an effect is selfish. People drink and use drugs to provide themselves with comfort, and thus you must begin using with a focus on the self. That said, years of alcohol or drug abuse will amplify selfishness and self-absorption to the point of pathological narcissism. So addiction and selfishness are synonymous. The pathological focus on self is one of the most devastating effects on those who surround the addict, most of all the parent or spouse. To have robbed our loved ones of their time, energy, love, tears and savings and then to continue to rob them and suck them dry once physically sober is atrocious. Trust me, I know this from experience as I am guilty of this myself.
To carry our narcissism into sobriety implies that she has only achieved physical sobriety, and unfortunately, achieving physical sobriety alone is not a tremendous accomplishment. It is just the very beginning. It is just a clinical event to expel the body of poison. To rid the addict of the spiritual and emotional filth which lies underneath the addiction is an entirely different undertaking. Drugs and alcohol are just a side-show, a byproduct of a much deeper and significant problem. The problem with the addict is not drugs, it is who they are and who they have become. We are very sick people spiritually and emotionally. Thus, all of the work begins AFTER achieving sobriety.
Therefore, she must engage in rigorous and lifelong spiritual and moral action. Since the problem with addiction is selfishness, the logical cure is to be unselfish, to get out of ourselves, to serve others and to give back. I would strongly recommend she engage in the Step process, but it must be done wholeheartedly, thoroughly and fearlessly. 99% = 0. The actions laid out in the Big Book will change the life of anyone. The 4th Step alone serves to expel and become accountable for an entire lifetime of resentment, fear and other spiritual and emotional poison. Furthermore, making amends to those we have hurt serves to humble us. Working with others and being deferent to God are other actions that induce a more humble attitude and frame of mind. The Steps are no joke. They involve tremendous ‘other-centered’ work and action. This will rid her of her self-absorption.
As far as telling her she is self-absorbed, just tell her. Her hostile reaction is pure proof that it is the truth. And if the sober addict still hates the truth, they are no better at all.
Thank you so much for the kind words and for reaching out. God bless you.