Why Take Steps?

      Anybody can take Steps, and it’s probably not a bad idea. The actions involved in the Step process work to extract the toxic baggage within – the build-up of fear, anxiety, resentment, anger, depression, discontent, dissatisfaction, vanity, arrogance, self-centeredness and selfishness. By extracting negative perceptions, beliefs and behavioral patterns, by smashing attitudes, ambitions, motivations and delusions that have been driving us our entire lives, we become empty and free to allow something better to come in. Once cleaned out, we can become filled instead with humility, sanity, peace, positivity, responsibility, tolerance, other-centeredness and freedom. We can replace the darkness with light, with Spirit.

     Of course, addicts, like most people, will only try something if they know exactly what it is, how it works, and if it will work. We want results, we want them quick, and we want it to be easy. And when we fail, we LOVE to blame anything and everything other than ourselves. But when we fail in the Steps, it is not the Steps that failed us, nor is it the fault of anything or anybody else outside of ourselves. Your success in the Steps is entirely up to you. It is between you and God.

     By the way, if your sponsor has any clue at all, he will never tell you to do something that he hasn’t done himself. That is not our job as Step sponsors. Our job is simply to tell you what we have done, what worked for us. Our job is to take you through the process laid out in the Big Book. That’s all. And we are not responsible for your results. Again, that is entirely up to you.

     So what you get out of this process is directly proportional to what you put into it. If you give everything you have, if you are thorough and fearless, and most importantly, if you really want to change, then you will. The universe will conspire to bring you opportunities to change. You will strangely bump into people you owe amends to from years ago. Chances to help others will drop out of the sky, especially if you pray for them. It is mystical.

     If you let go of self, of needing to do everything and control everything on your own, freedom is yours. Take the leap. Have blind faith. Challenge yourself, give back and do the right thing. We owe it to the people in our lives. We owe it to the world. So go ahead… change.

God, please bring me the opportunity to help someone today…

Peace Flows

     The secret to recovering from addiction is so simple it hurts: HARD WORK. This along with adopting spiritual principles and staying close to GOD = guaranteed success. The feeling of internal peace is like no other, and it is achievable to anyone. My hope is that all those who suffer somehow find their way to this freedom. Experience has taught me is that I could not get there without taking rigorous spiritual action, opening myself up, and reaching out to God.

     So the reason I am somewhat aggressive about this stuff is 1) because this is an aggressive illness and we must be aggressive if we intend to recover… and 2) because of what happened to me, I feel compelled to expose the bullshit regarding mainstream treatment methods (MTM).

     About 1 in 32 addicts actually get sober and stay that way, though it could be much worse. The combination of academics, psychiatry, and state/federally funded treatment programs shape mainstream thinking and attitudes regarding addiction and recovery, and this has directly resulted in rather bleak outcomes. The ever-expanding myriad of treatment options (few of which have much of an effect, if any at all), the onslaught of new medications and the glorification of therapy models is only hurting addiction treatment, not helping. By continuously specifying and categorizing every character flaw into its very own disorder, you will soon wind up a complete zombie, popping pills morning, noon and night. But let’s face it, the simple truth is we’re either ILL or NOT ILL. It’s really that simple.
   
     The advent of psychology and psychiatry in the West is a business, with its very own business model, marketing and advertising division, PR department, and various media networks to pump a great lie: That your problems are countless and complicated, and you will need to buy a heaping pile of untested meds until you are flat broke and wind up right back where you started – in need of ever more help, of course! It’s a scam, along with the scumbags charging our poor parents half of their life savings to pamper us at over-priced, cushy treatment centers, as we engage in little more than cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse prevention, topped off with tenderloin and Swedish massage at the end of a hard day in paradise. And don’t forget the hot tub.

     Addiction and recovery are really quite simple, so why are we complicating them? How long are we going to ignore the crucial spiritual component underlying both the illness of addiction and its solution? Truth be told, it is a great tragedy that so many of these programs ignore the spiritual truth about addiction and the existence of God as a solution. So many could get better who never do… and for next to nothing in terms of cost.

God, please help us as a culture understand addiction better and what is necessary for lasting recovery, namely You…

*Please note that while I cannot reply personally to comments on the blog, I welcome them and I’m with all of you in my heart, mind and spirit… and will forever remain to pray for you and your loved ones.

Want To Stop But Can’t

     As I stood, emaciated and dope-sick, staring into the broken bathroom mirror of the shithole real estate office I worked for, I finally wanted to change but had reached the point of no return. When you want to stop but can’t, that’s when you know you’re screwed. No hope, no will, no energy, no power… and worst of all, no solution. I’d already tried every imaginable remedy to get better and fix myself but failed miserably every time. I tried therapy, pills, relationships, traveling, jobs, herbs, homeopathy, self-help books, AA & NA meetings, and on and on.

     I drank and used for fifteen years until I was sick, spiritless, incoherent, numb and careless. My depression was so great that it wouldn’t let me go. It was like I had fallen in wet cement and woke up one day to find myself immovable. Officially unsalvagable.
     It was only because I was financially broke that I finally dragged myself to detox. Once physically sober, I decided to go up North, but that was mainly because my wife, mother, and some bitter social worker lady wouldn’t stop bitching at me. So to shut everyone up, I went. Perhaps I knew deep inside that if I walked out of detox, I was a dead man. Or maybe it was a simple case of divine intervention.
     It wasn’t long before my entire attitude changed. After meeting a recovered addict for the first time, I not only wanted to change, but for the first time in my life, I became willing to do anything it took to accomplish that. No thought, feeling, relationship, circumstance or life event was going to stop me, regardless of how dark or horrifying.
     So my advice to addicts is: At some point it will really help your cause if you WANT to change. I believe with all my heart that if we truly want to change and are willing to go to any lengths, the universe will conspire to bring us opportunities to make that happen. God is there for us… we just need to get over ourselves and then humbly and wholeheartedly ask Him for help.
     I was reading Proof of Heaven the other night and it amazed me that the same thought came into my head as I faced death. In 1996, after being hit by a drunk driver plowing the wrong way down the highway, I regained consciousness some two days later in the ICU unit at Mass General. I couldn’t move or see. I knew something was terribly wrong. After realizing my predicament, the first thought that went through my head was, God help me. I suppose the Big Book is right when it says that God or God-consciousness is simply fundamental to our make-up as human beings.

God, please teach me to let go of Self…

Cause & Effect

     For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction… – Isaac Newton

    Addicts and alcoholics must be careful about the universal laws of cause & effect, for these laws are also alive and well in the mental, emotional and spiritual realms. There is an effect to everything we do, whether physical or mental.

     If we think angry thoughts, chances are we will attract angry people to us who come and piss us off even more. If we embrace and indulge our resentment towards others, chances are we will reap ongoing negativity and outside judgement. If we choose to lash out verbally, there is no doubt someone will return the favor. If we distract ourselves constantly and fill our minds with say, the garbage on E! Television, we will probably suffer from boredom, frustration, apathy, and indifference. Even if we neglect ourselves spiritually or emotionally by slacking off on certain right actions that we have committed to take consistently, rest assured we will suffer in a multitude of ways. We will become depressed (a form of self-absorption) which will effect our ability to be present with others, to give to others, to love others.

     And it’s just the same with positive actions, thoughts and words. There is a positive effect, whether it’s good people, or worldly blessings, something unseen, or most importantly, peace inside. The effect of goodness is goodness, and vice versa. Cause & effect can destroy us or it can save us. This is a lesson I have learned intellectually yet I continue to violate on almost a daily basis. Addicts and alcoholics will always make mistakes. We will always act, think and speak negatively. It’s what we do about it that matters. Making it right will gradually effect our character and change us slowly over the long run. Are you in it for the long run? And do you want to just get sober or do you really want to change? Sometimes I have to ask myself these questions. And it’s in the answer that I eventually find the results.

God, please give me the willingness, strength and goodness to honor the laws of cause and effect…

This State Doesn’t Work Either

     I used to think that all I had to do to snap out of my depression was just to get out of my freakin’ house! I have to get out of town, man, and move across the country, yo. Breathe the fresh mountain air! Oops, no wait, now I have to drive back home to breathe the cool ocean air! Nope, wait a sec, that’s not working either. Okay, I think I should change schools or jobs or relationships. Yup! Nope. Hmmm, nothing works. What the hell, man?

     Gee, maybe because changing our external reality does absolutely nothing to change the way we feel inside, nor will it cure what ails us. One of the only good slogans I heard in AA is how when you try to escape your problems by driving from state to state, each welcome sign that you pass should say,

     “Welcome! This State Doesn’t Work Either.”

     Our problems will follow us wherever we go. Our fears, our depression, our anxiety, our alcoholism and our addiction will tow right behind us. To get rid of our demons, we must change, not travel. We must take action of a different nature… action which effects profound and fundamental change on an internal or spiritual level.

     Personally, I took Steps to get better, although there are many other ways we can change or grow or become sane once again. I took Steps because I am an addict. If I were something else, perhaps I would embark on a disciplined meditation routine, or perhaps I would do service of some sort. Volunteer somewhere. Teach others a skill that I have, or a talent.

     Usually changing involves giving. That is the only thing I am certain of when it comes to changing. No matter what our problem is, the solution must involve getting rid of SELF.

God, please bring all my fellow addicts who still suffer to the depths of despair and hopelessness, that they may begin to embark on real change…