Early Privileged Addict Quotes – From TPAQ Chapter 1


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


“Recovery is not an exercise in assessing what others did to us. It is an exercise in assessing what we did to others.”


“Achieving physical sobriety is not an accomplishment, it is a requirement.Becoming recovered from alcoholism or drug addiction is not an accomplishment, it is our responsibility.”


“Resentments are like acid to the seeing eye. They burn and blind us so that we cannot see clearly.”


“We make amends for the object of our amends, not to clear our conscience.”


“When I get out of my own way, what fills the space is God’s will.”


“Why should we reward ourselves with sobriety chips just because we stopped hurting other people?”


“The absence of Self is to the benefit of anyone, addict or not.”


“It’s useless to study or understand the 1st Step intellectually. We must feel powerless in our hearts, our guts, our cells. Once we have done that, we can take a 2nd Step and our loss of willpower has become temporary.”


“If you can’t pray for someone you resent, you aren’t cut out for the Steps.”


“There’s no such thing as ‘missing out’. If you are okay and at peace inside, it doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing, what you have or who you’re with.”


“Talking is not a solution.”


“Having horrible feelings isn’t a novelty.”


“Our problem isn’t really drugs and alcohol, but what happens to us in their absence. Our problem is who we are. Getting better therefore is purely a function of changing the person we have become.”


“If we have the capacity for honesty, we have the seed of God within, and we can nourish that seed into a fountain of strength.”


“Drug addicts should be roasted and humbled beyond belief, and then built back together one spiritual brick at a time.”


“True freedom meant I had to forgo the psychotropics. I needed to change my bio-chemistry without one of corporate America’s science projects… and yes, it can be done. In fact, it is necessary to recover as spiritual experiences and miracles can only occur in the absence of drugs. The term ‘miracle drug’ is an oxymoron. “


“The secret to life can be seen in nature, letting whatever comes, come and whatever goes, go. It doesn’t resist the forces acting upon it, nor does it fight against what is happening. It doesn’t expect.”


“The moment we begin bronzing trophies for ourselves, it’s game over.”


“Knowledge doesn’t get addicts better, nor can it keep us sober. Power does.”


“Power, once lost, must be reacquired from a source of power, and since we are no longer that source, it must come from outside of ourselves. That source is God.”


“Spirituality isn’t about trying to achieve constant rapture. It’s about facing reality and being human.”


“If your knucklehead sponsor told you to wait to take Steps or to only take a Step a year, you should probably remove their phone number from your rolodex before you die, or worse, continue hurting people.”


“Nothing outside of ourselves is responsible for us becoming drug addicts.”


“Feelings have nothing to do with getting better. To get better, we must do one thing and one thing only: take right action.”


“Triggers and reasons don’t exist. Both are just flimsy excuses, as nothing makes us want to use.”


“What matters is what you do, not what you believe. Intellect and belief are entirely useless without repeated action.”


“The only healthy fear is the fear of doing wrong… otherwise known as the fear of God.”


“Inventory doesn’t let me off the hook, an unfortunate leniency afforded me in therapy.”


“You cannot fix an alcoholic or an addict without fixing him morally and spiritually.”


“There is no access to God without the absence of drugs and alcohol.”


“Alcohol and drugs act as wall between us and God.”


“Privilege and resources will neither prevent us from becoming addicts nor will it fix us once we get there.”


“What I once thought would be amazing to achieve is now small. As we grow and succeed, we keep moving the goal posts, and if that doesn’t happen and you are still hanging on by a thread ten years later, there is probably something wrong with your program.”


“You can’t change your inner reality by changing your outer reality, as our outer lives are merely a reflection or our inner lives. Likewise, we can’t try to fix some external problem without changing ourselves.”


“Always remember that we cannot control other people’s lives.”


“Once we cross over that line, we are all equally screwed and the mountain we have to climb to recover is the same exact height. There is no ‘worse than’.”


“Everything good that I do and that I have is from God and is God.”


“If, as a byproduct of doing this work, we find peace, strength, happiness or joy, then great, but that isn’t our priority. Our priority is the achievement and maintenance of our sanity such that we can serve others and respond to their needs. Our priority is to serve God.”


“Stillness, prayer and meditation are crucial for the mind and heart of an addict.”


“No one can escape Karma.”


“If we cannot swallow our pride and make an amends to someone who has also wronged us, we have no business in the Steps.”


“Binge drinkers are some of the worst kind, as you basically have a demonic, coiled spring just waiting to explode. At least the daily drunk is constantly soothing and escaping his lunacy. He makes what takes place in his mind a bit more bearable.”


“When we become recovered, people no longer see us as alcoholics. While in recovery, we still act like children and remain enslaved by our self-centered frame of mind. Recovered, we act like adults who can tend to the needs of others.”


“Meetings don’t get people better. Neither do sob stories, war stories, sobriety chips, instant coffee and sober dances. Taking enough spiritual action to induce a fundamental psychic change is what gets people better.”


“What is sponsorship? Is it approaching some newbie at an AA meeting and telling them that they need a sponsor and you’re the man to do it? Is it then dragging your sponsee to AA meetings day after day after day? Is it calling your sponsee on Saturday night to make sure he isn’t drinking? Or is it fielding frantic and desperate phone calls from your sponsee as he teeters on the edge outside of a bar? Is it providing a social structure for your sponsee by taking him out for dinner, a movie, or some bowling? Is it telling your sponsee where to work, who to be with, or what friends they should have? Is it getting all militant and beating the shit out of him? Better yet, is it telling your sponsee what kind of clothes to wear? Is sponsorship determining what colored socks to wear on Monday? Sponsorship is none of the above.”


“It is not my job as a sponsor to be your friend or to listen to you blab all night about your feelings or struggles, allowing you to validate yourself as some sort of victim. It is definitely not my job to call you. If you want to get better, then it is your job to call me and I can tell you what I did to get better. I will take you through the Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book. And by the way, your feelings don’t matter. I really don’t care how you feel. Sound harsh? Well, it’s really not so harsh when you consider that our pathological focus on ourselves and our feelings, our constant engagement with self-pity is the exact thing preventing us from getting better.”


“Not sure why, but folks in AA look at me like I’m evil when I say I’m a recovered alcoholic. This is especially fascinating considering the title page of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states, ‘The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism’.”


“If we are “recovering” or “in recovery”, then we have achieved physical sobriety but continue to struggle. We are ‘restless, irritable and discontent’, as the Big Book notes. We still want to drink. We fight to stay sober and get through each day. Terms like ‘dry drunk’ and ‘white knuckling it’ are reserved for those who are merely recovering. Why does this sound harsh and why make a fuss about the distinction? Because being in recovery is not the solution that AA prescribes. AA makes no mention that its program is intended to leave an individual suffering, craving, fighting and utterly miserable. The truth is that AA is a rigorous program of action that brings a sober alcoholic or addict from ‘recovering’ to ‘recovered’.”


“Addicts who I sponsor say, ‘Yeah the Steps are great but I also want to dig into my stuff, my feelings. You need to know how I feel, man!’ No, I don’t. And fine, call me a sociopath but I really don’t care. I also don’t care what you believe. All I care about is what you do. What actions are you going to take? How are you going to fix yourself and the damage you have done to equip you properly to help others.”


“Bottom line: Getting better truly has nothing to do with our feelings and our self-pity. In fact, this sort of focus quite often prevent us from getting better. The most important thing any addict wanting to get better can do is to drop his preoccupation with self and drop it permanently. Do yourself and others a favor and stop focusing on how you feel because the truth is it doesn’t matter and nobody cares anyway. We need to be able to walk through our uncomfortable feelings without broadcasting them on the nightly news. Feelings should not stop us from doing what we have to do.”


“The good news is you can literally change your bio-chemistry without any medication whatsoever. I changed my brain and rid myself of fear, depression and addiction by, yup, praying, meditating, writing inventory, helping others and living by spiritual principles. Don’t worry, I make mistakes constantly. I’m still a complete dick sometimes. I freak out, get angry, act like a psycho behind the wheel, hurt people’s feelings and mess up my head on a regular basis. But I did enough work to conquer my clinical depression and activate a line between me and God – like a telephone line that I can tap into anytime, anywhere.”


“None of my psychiatrists believe that I actually cured myself of depression and addiction without medication of any sort. They don’t know how to wrap their heads around the fact that certain spiritual actions and certain spiritual realities can cause scientific changes.”


“Why do addicts sabotage everything… over and over and over?

One, because being happy is such unfamiliar territory. They’ve gotten used to misery and drama and negativity. They’ve gotten used to destroying everything. They’ve become pain-dependent. Being happy, successful, fulfilled and at peace is far too strange a feeling for addicts. So when things start going our way, it’s much easier to just tear the whole thing down.

Two, sabotaging all of the good things in our life is also a defense mechanism, oddly enough. If we’re always screwed up and making a mess of things, no one will expect that much from us. It takes the pressure and the focus off. More importantly, it allows us to use the way we want to. It allows us just enough moral relativity to do whatever we want. We can justify doing the stupidest shit in the world because we’re ‘just screwed up that way’. Great excuse, huh? So sabotage is a defense mechanism because it allows us to keep the standard lower. When we succeed, we will gain back your graces sooner, but when we relapse and destroy everything, nobody is surprised.”


“I don’t care what you believe. It really doesn’t matter… compared to what you do. We can believe in the most noble, lofty principles in the world and still be useless sacks of shit. We can believe in every good thing known to man and not evolve spiritually in the slightest. We can have our doctrines of choice memorized front to back and never change at all. We can be religious show-offs who can throw passages around like no other and still be deranged monsters. What matters is what we do, not what we believe. It is action, not feelings or beliefs, that will ultimately give us freedom.”


“For sure, there is a difference between knowing God and having God. To know God, we simply have to believe, or read some doctrine, or perhaps drop by Sunday service and potluck. But to have God, we have to perform. We have to take actions that bring God into us and expand His actual presence.”


“When we engage in self-will, we try to force things, control things and exert ourselves to achieve some specific end. Attempting to design our own lives, we may accomplish anything and everything yet come home to find chaos within. Letting go of self-will is an effort to get out of my own way and stop relying on my screwed up mind to guide me through life. Instead, I step back and pray and allow something much greater to guide me – God.”


“Victim is a state of mind. Victims believe that their feelings and their circumstances are all caused by something outside of themselves. They are ignorant to the fact that they are 100% responsible for how they feel. It should come as no surprise that victims have no interest in your life. They will blab on for hours about what so and so did to them without ever thinking that it might be appropriate to shut up and ask you about your own life, feelings, or struggles. When good things happen to you, it’s like a dagger in the victim’s heart. Success for you means jealousy and resentment for the victim, as they quickly dump their woes on you to divert attention away from your blessings. If you do not agree that they are victims, they will turn on you viciously. They will only reach out to you with charm or kindness when they want something from you. And you better give it to them to avoid incurring their wrath. They have no shame. They are desperate.”


“When we engage in projection, we are in a state of delusion. Projection is when we transfer or “project” our own defects onto someone else. We accuse others of the very qualities, behaviors and attitudes that we own ourselves. So when I’m screaming at someone, or judging them, or calling them names, or ripping them apart from every angle, I should be screaming in a mirror because I’m really just talking about myself. I tend to think that when we lash out angrily at others, most of what we say is projection. Addicts, narcissists and crazy people who are incapable of assuming any responsibility for their words, thoughts and actions engage in pathological projection.”


“To recover, we must step out of the darkness and understand that we are not victims. Nothing outside of us makes us feel the way we do. Who we are, what we feel, what we do, and what happens to us are purely our own responsibility.”


“Alcoholics and addicts hurts others because their addiction comes first before everything. And if our addiction is our very top priority, then we will do anything it takes to use the way we want, even if that means lying to you, stealing from you, manipulating you, deceiving you, abusing you, hurting you and breaking your heart.”

“Many of us probably don’t want to hurt you at all, but if we are addicts, then our addiction comes first, and that means nothing and nobody will get in the way of us drinking and using to our little hearts’ content. The truth is that you will never come first, because even if we recover, we will have to put our spiritual health above all else. But don’t worry, because if an addict actually puts spiritual growth above all else, then our relationships and every other facet of our lives will end up in the best possible condition.”


“The reason why we can’t stay sober has nothing to do with the bio-chemical illness of alcoholism or addiction. The reason why we can’t stay sober is because we have a spiritual problem. We have a moral problem. Yes, a moral problem, along with the insanity of the mental obsession. Do me a favor… go out there and try to stay clean while acting immorally. Try to stay sober while lying, cheating, manipulating or being selfish, angry, depressed and abusive. Good luck with that. You will need luck because it doesn’t work.”


“Once we become addicts and realize that we have a serious problem, the only thing keeping us actively using is doing the wrong thing. If we were living by spiritual principles, there would be no need to use.”


“Who really gets us better? I pretty much figured that if I was going to recover, it was ME that was going to do it. Arrogance. I couldn’t even wrap my head around the idea that something else could fix me, especially something intangible and other-worldly. Enslaved by my ego, I became saturated with pride and self-love. I could only conceive of my own power. When I stopped trying to get myself better, that’s the moment I began to really change.”


“Addicts love to take credit for every good thing that happens to them, for every accomplishment no matter how minute. They simply can’t handle the possibility or even the idea that something else may be responsible for what they have achieved or what they have been blessed with. If they land a great job, it’s all them. If they make a bunch of money, it’s all them. If they meet a loving, loyal spouse, it’s all them. If they are showered with good friends and abundance, then yup, it’s all because of them. They create everything… unless it’s something bad of course. Then it’s suddenly someone else’s fault. This is the sad result of our narrow mind and pathological self-centeredness. We’ve become too small and too dumb to see greater powers at work. We need others to see what we can accomplish, how brilliant and talented we are. As long as we remain trapped in this sort of frame of mind, we will never get better.”

“I don’t take credit for what changed me, for what removed the obsession to drink and use drugs. I don’t take credit for the things I’ve accomplished since I got sober. I don’t take credit for all of the miracles and blessings in my life. I don’t look around to see my wonderful life now and think, ‘Wow, look what I did! I’m so the man! I’m so amazing and talented and strong! I can conquer anything!’ You know who is strong? Our Lord. So if you’re an addict and you are tempted to tap yourself on the back for something you just did, try not to. Chances are you didn’t have too much to do with it.”


“Why do I still need a trophy every time I do a good deed? That’s absolutely pathetic after getting sober so long ago. I forget that it’s okay to do the right thing without broadcasting it to the world. It’s okay to help someone without being awarded a medal of honor. In fact, altruism doesn’t involve trophies. An altruistic act isn’t really altruistic if we need recognition for it… or if there’s any other selfish motive attached to it.”


“The best thing for addicts is to do something helpful that no one sees, that doesn’t feed our conscience, that doesn’t get us a pat on the back, that doesn’t fit into our schedule, that doesn’t give us a spiritual buzz, that doesn’t fuel our pride, ego and self-esteem. The best thing for addicts is not to receive trophies from people just because we did the right thing. Addicts shouldn’t be getting trophies because then they expect trophies every time they do a good deed. Then they stop doing good deeds unless they get a trophy. Then they become preoccupied with feeling good again, even in sobriety. Then they relapse.”


“We alcoholics and addicts shouldn’t be awarding ourselves, getting claps and recognition, or patting ourselves on the back just because we stopped hurting other people. This is what we do with small children. Do we really need a gold star because we stayed sober today and didn’t rip the hearts out of our entire family? Ridiculous.”


“If you’re an alcoholic or an addict out there and you plan on staying sober after you pat yourself on the back for going to detox, you better change the person you are. You have no chance of staying clean if you do not embrace spiritual principles and live a moral life. Drinking booze and using drugs is 100% connected to morals, or lack thereof. Do you really think the average alcoholic, heroin addict or crackhead out there is living right? Please. So when you get a pamphlet or an article that some clueless PhD wrote about how addiction is not a moral problem but rather purely a physiological phenomenon, you are absorbing information that will undoubtedly lead to relapse, and perhaps your eventual death.”


“There is no pill nor any expert that can remove this obsession. There is no pill that can make an insane man sane. And most importantly, the addict himself is not capable of removing his obsession. The combination of his insanity and his total loss of willpower leave him incapacitated. If you don’t believe me, feel free to try going from a chronic and hopeless drug addict to completely and utterly free inside for the rest of your life on your own volition.”


“There is no such thing as using in a vacuum. The moment we lose control is the moment we begin to hurt others. Love is not a switch that can be turned off, so every time we hurt ourselves, we are breaking the hearts of all those who love us. And even if we have no one in our lives, drinking and using is still harmful (and therefore wrong) because as human beings we are responsible to act in a way that we would recommend for all others. Just imagine if everybody on earth was a crackhead or a falling down lush – what an F-show that would be. So no matter how you slice it, drinking or using drugs is selfish. We do damage whether we like it or not. We do damage whether we’re all alone playing solitaire or whether we’re out in the world being an ass to everybody. If we have lost control, then every time we use, we hurt others.”


“Imagine for a second that you came home everyday to find your mom or your spouse sitting in a corner cutting themselves because they were so depressed about their lives. How would that make you feel? Yup, that’s right, it would break your heart. Well that’s how your mom or your spouse feels every time you use drugs or go out drinking.”


“Blind faith is the key to getting better. Alcoholics and addicts are stubborn, obstinate, and tend to worship their own minds/intellect. We think we can get ourselves better if and when we choose to, which is a fallacy. And no matter how smart we think we are, our minds have instead become narrow, limited and ignorant. We demand to see results. We demand to know exactly what it is that will fix us. We want to see it to believe it. But that may be the one thing standing in the way of getting better.
Until I read my inventory (5th Step) and recited the 7th Step prayer, I didn’t know if any of it would work. Sometimes it was difficult to embark on this mountain of work without knowing the end result. There was no guarantee I would have some profound psychic change. There was no guarantee I would recover. This is exactly why us addicts need to take a leap of faith… to break a lifelong pattern of never trusting in the unknown. We always have to know. We cling to our own self-will and sense of control because we don’t trust in letting go. We don’t trust in God’s will.
So in the Steps we are asked to step into the darkness, unsure of where we will land. We are asked to just do the work on faith and see what happens. It’s like a trust fall. You don’t know that all of those people will catch you when you fall back. You have to trust that they will. Faith is trust. Trust that it will work. Trust that you will be okay. Trust in your recovery. Trust in the unknown. Trust in God. And hey, why not?”

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