Intent

     If we are serious about our recovery and about growing, then we don’t want to put up any walls, even thin ones, between us and spiritual health/freedom. That means we don’t mess with anything. That means we don’t take Tylenol PM, Sudafed, or any mood or mind-altering substance whatsoever, regardless of how subtle. That means we don’t take prescribed painkillers during or after surgery. Why, knowing that our bodies are permanently damaged, knowing that the allergy we have crosses all lines, and knowing that ANY mood-altering substance will set this allergy off, would we screw with anything? Plus, if we wuss out after getting a tooth pulled or some other nonsense, then we really can’t be much of an example to anyone we might help or sponsor now, can we?

     But whatever we do or don’t do, the most important thing is intent. Is our intent in taking something to feel good, to feel different? If it is, even to the slightest degree, then it is of ill intent, it is wrong, it is dangerous, and by taking it you have without question relapsed. And remember, lying to ourselves is basically equivalent to relapsing as well, so we must be sure that we truly know our intent. Are we deceiving ourselves, thinking or believing our intent is pure when it may not be? Remembering that we are warped, isn’t it better just not to mess with anything at all?

     For the record, you can have surgery without taking narcotics like a baby. I’ve had an abdominal surgery and a wrist surgery (that included a nerve block procedure) without any pain meds whatsoever. Sure it hurt like hell, but it’s possible, and I’m not willing to lose what I have now. We have to ask ourselves, how serious are we about our addiction, our recovery, our spiritual health? How serious are we about about living it, about setting an example for others? How serious are we about our lives, about getting closer to God? Shouldn’t we be making choices and living in a way that we would recommend for all others, especially for other suffering addicts? So if we get sober and really want to change, then we will abstain from any and all mood-altering drugs, even during and after surgery.

     To note, for major surgeries, such as my abdominal surgery, it is necessary to be unconscious. However, that procedure is non-narcotic and has no affect on the dopaminergic (reward) system of the brain or central nervous system.

Walk Right Into It

     “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, pp.83-84

     I remember making an amends to an old boss, one of a long list of people whom I swore I’d forever avoid like the plague. I was bubbling over with shame, humiliation and disgrace after driving company trucks around jammed out of my skull, stealing pills from people’s homes we entered, selling drugs to other employees, and threatening my poor boss in an effort to extort thousands of dollars out of him. Walking into his office that day I could feel streams of sweat trickling down the back of my arms… and just to add some insult, the ass of my pants was soaked through as well. Nervous, shaking, heart-pounding and gut churning, I approached him and became accountable for my wrongs.
     This is how we change. This is how we turn from insecure, cowardly boys into strong, confident men. Recovering from drugs and alcohol is the process of growing up and becoming an adult. To do that, we have to first understand that suffering isn’t a novelty. Then we have to roll up our sleeves and do that which frightens us the most. We simply walk right into it. And we should also do so without announcing it to everyone we know or expecting a trophy afterwards.
   
     I also remembering waking up one day after years of non-stop action and realized, Holy shit, my life is incredible. It is full of blessings and miracles, loving friends and family, purpose and power. It’s not complicated, it just requires some actual work. Think of it as the new high. See how much fear and discomfort you can walk through. Challenge yourself. That’s what I did. And I HATE losing a challenge. I hate being a wimp.
     You see, because we addicts are dishonest phonies, we should generally be doing exactly what we don’t feel like doing. To get better, we must do the very things we fear. If we cannot fathom that, we aren’t cut out for the Steps. If we aren’t willing to follow our gut (conscience), then we should probably just start drinking and shooting dope again. And if we don’t even have a conscience, or if it doesn’t return once sober and engaging the steps, then drugs and alcohol are the least of our problems.
     Walking into fear dissipates cowardice, depression, self-pity, and fear itself. Again, this is how we get better. When we walk through tough feelings in order to do what is right, we grow. In fact, it is absolutely necessary to take action while suffering, while we are afraid and in pain. Only by having courage during tough times do we then get this relief and this peace within. God will reward us with serenity and give us more power to take even more action. As our conscience expands with each right action, we become a shield against spiritual poison. We begin to repel that which is wrong and destructive. That’s why addiction is most certainly a moral problem and why the solution is right action. 
     If we come to naturally repel what’s wrong, we have reacquired the power to stay sober. That is the name of the recovery game. That’s the trick to getting and staying better – caring about what we do, caring about the consequences of our actions. Without a conscience that is in tact, do you really expect methadone maintenance to work? Lol, please. Some of this stuff I read on other blogs is so backwards, I sometimes feel that there is little point to continue doing this. 
    At any rate, if it seems difficult to climb that mountain of fear and discomfort, that’s because it’s supposed to be. We don’t get to recover and have inner peace without some hard work. But when it seems impossible and when we cannot find the willingness and courage to walk into our fears, ASK for it. Sincerely ask God for willingness, strength, courage and power. If we ask for these things for a righteous and selfless cause, He will deliver them to us. Why wouldn’t He, for their is nothing more selfless and pure then wanting the power to get better so we may serve others and do God’s work.
God, be with me…

Self-Knowledge

     “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.39

     That is why psychotherapy is pretty much useless for an alcoholic or an addict. Knowledge doesn’t get addicts better, nor can it keep us sober. Power does.
     Think of it as a missing chip. When we become addicts, we lose the power to choose not to drink or use drugs. No amount of self-knowledge will replace this chip. In fact, we ourselves can’t even replace it. Power, once lost, must come from a power source, and since we are no longer that source, it must come from outside of ourselves. That source is God. To note, another fallacy perpetuated by conventional treatment programs is that we get ourselves better. Not true. God does.
     Alcoholics without power are subject to go insane at any moment, at which point all ration and reason disappear. When this occurs, any self-knowledge or information we may have accrued is completely useless. Nothing short of a miracle can fight off the obsession to drink once it hits us. If we think we can get better or stay sober just because we learned something about ourselves, think again.
     So when we are without the power of choice, it needs to be re-inserted back into our brains and our beings. Knowledge is great, but alone it is useless. Knowledge with Power will change lives.
God, knowing that I must take rigorous spiritual action, please restore me to sanity and give me power back…