Tag Archives: relapse

Free Will In Addiction Recovery

23 Dec


A drug is a drug is a drug… the question asked was if “I am just an addict, does that mean that I can still drink alcohol?” While this question always leads to a heavy debate of life experience, personalities and sheer ignorance, my answer to this question would be No.  If followed the logic of this statement – that would mean that since I am ‘just’ an alcoholic I can go and use other mind altering substances to my heart’s content because they aren’t my drug of choice.

Flawed logic.

Powerful. Cunning. Baffling.

Alcohol & drugs are all of these things.

Of course I would love an excuse to use a mind altering substance… why wouldn’t my disease convince me that it was okay to do so. My disease thrives on this… it’s a form of chaos, confusion and justification for unhealthy behaviors that I know will feel good. The only reason I put addictive substance into my body is to feel good, numb, with a false sense of control.

If you are asking yourself if drinking is okay because you are an addict, not an alcoholic… then your relapse has already occurred.

My drinking was an external manifestation of my disease. It was a symptom of the spiritual sickness that existed, and still exists, within me. Drifting into the land of complacency and justification for behaviors and actions that we know are not healthy for us is frightening. How far will we push the boundaries of what is acceptable, permitted and healthy for our recovery?

I know that many will disagree with me, but if I don’t have the truth of ‘a drug is a drug is a drug’ imbedded into my psyche, I will quickly slide to a place that I never wish to return to again for the rest of my life. For me the answer is total abstinence. For you the answer may be different. Try some controlled drinking… see how that works for you.

If I could drink like a normal person I’d drink every day. Let that last statement sit with you for a short period of time. See if you grasp what that statement of supposed fact actually means.

Then… . you will realize that saying you are ‘just’ an addict and therefore can drink alcohol… is nothing but your disease whispering sweet nothings into your ear.. Your disease is hoping, praying and working damn hard to be actively alive. Whether or not it succeeds…well… that’s up to you.


Addiction: The Eternal Trickster

23 May

The face of addiction is a trickster. Much like the legendary stories of Coyote, Loki & Crow, addiction takes on many forms.

Definition of a trickster:  the one given by Lewis Hyde: “trickster is a boundary-crosser” (7). By that, he means that the trickster crosses both physical and social boundaries– the trickster is often a traveler, and he often breaks societal rules. Tricksters cross lines, breaking or blurring connections and distinctions between “right and wrong, sacred and profane, clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and dead” (Hyde 7). The trickster often changes shape (turning into an animal, for example) to cross between worlds. In his role as boundary-crosser, the trickster sometimes becomes the messenger of the gods. Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

Unlike its folklore counterparts, the addiction trickster does not have a culturally heroic aspect of its personality. The addiction trickster lives in your mind, whispers in your ear and controls your dreams. The addiction trickster fools you into believing three heinous thoughts:

  • You are wiser than your addiction
  • You are stronger than your disease
  • You have the power to control every aspect of your life

The addiction trickster will hand you a warm and cuddly blanket of complacency in order to reinforce those false beliefs. The addiction trickster delivers a false sense of reality, leading one to believe that consequences do not exist. The addiction trickster wants the recovering individual to believe that becoming complacent is safe. To be complacent is anything but safe.

Complacent Is A Dirty Word

Complacent is one of the most dangerous words in the dictionary. A slippery slope exists between authentic comfort and the illusion that all is well. If we end up in the pit of illusion, our saving grace is passion. Passion reminds us of why we are blessed to be on this plane of existence. Passion fuels our desire to make a lasting impression on the planet. Passion is what breaths fire into life. The flames of passion are not always extinguished in one fell swoop. For many in recovery our flames slowly die out as complacency breathes in the oxygen needed to fuel our passion. Does this mean that one must be obsessed with addiction in order to conquer the addiction trickster? Obsessed No ~ Vigilant Yes!

Vigilant VS Complacent

I adhere to the belief that addiction is a disease. I have a disease. My brain and my body do not react to alcohol in a “normal” fashion. Every morning I am thankful for another moment of reprieve. For me, addiction is a manageable disease. My disease is manageable IF I do the work. There is no cure but there are measures I can take to maintain sobriety. The most universal tool in my toolbox is vigilance.

Vigilance encompasses being aware of your emotional response while obsession feeds off of your emotions. The addiction trickster’s goal is to elicit an emotional response of hubris, by tricking you into believing that you have a “hold” on your addiction. If the addiction trickster wins, the recovering individual is fooled into believing they are in control.  The cold hard truth is… you are not in control.

Vigilance empowers you to be mindful of your emotional response and take responsibility for the decision you make. For example, if a person is “obsessing” over environmental factors that may “trigger” them to use, chances are, they will use. Take this same individual but replace obsession with vigilance. Now they are aware of their environment, aware of their emotional responses and able to discern the best way to solidify their recovery foundation.

Consciousness To The Rescue

By simply exchanging “vigilance” for “obsession” your mindset shifts in a direction that will prove beneficial. While those in recovery will never achieve “control”, we can develop a “conscious”. Having a conscious that serves you is priceless. Don’t let the addiction trickster gain more power in your psyche ~ the addiction trickster can’t afford the rent.

Purpose & Clarity: Two Blessings In Recovery

2 May

Reality Shows Involving Addiction

There are many opinions regarding reality shows that put the spotlight on addiction. The top shows are Celebrity Rehab and Intervention. My view on if these shows are helpful or hurtful doesn’t apply to this specific blog post. This post deals with one show, Relapse, which premiered this season. The premise is that a sober coach intervenes on an addict that is active (having never stopped or having relapsed) and this coach has one week for the addict to make the decision to enter treatment. The show follows the day-to-day activities of the addict, including the obtaining and use of their drug of choice. The sober coaches that are on this show are professional individuals, not actors, not doctors, not medical professionals but people that have decided to make it their mission to help those that are unable to help themselves. The sober coach enters the addict’s life when everyone has given up on them.

The gutter is where these individuals exist, the utter bottom of society. They do not see any hope and they are at their bottom. These addicts are truly at the juncture of life and death. They are unable to do anything but use, they exist to use, their soul is lost to their addiction. The sober coaches understand exactly where these addicts are. Several of them have been addicted themselves. I admire the work that they do. This is the work that I am being called to do.

Why I Watch

My purpose or goal in life has never been as focused as it is at the current moment. We are all survivors of something; we have all endured our relative hells. I didn’t intend for this to be the path that I would choose. I always assumed that I would finish my degree and work a regular 9-5. I should have known that my life would take a different turn.

I have never felt such passion for a goal. I have never worked as hard as I work now, with the desired result being to work as a sober companion. It may sound cheesy but it just feels “right”. I adore the recovery community. While my roots are in traditional 12-Step philosophies I love the different approaches that are available. I love reading threads on articles and stories about addiction. The opinions that differ from mine only strengthen my resolve that what I have done has worked for me. Recovery is unique and I do not approach it in a cookie-cutter manner. I truly believe that help is available and hope is a possibility for anyone who is ready and willing.

One of the reasons I enjoy watching reality television that deals with addiction is that these programs remind me of where I was. The knowledge that I never want to return to that place is reinforced. While watching Relapse, I am encouraged that there is a specific occupation that involves my purpose. I do not know when I will have the right amount of training, resume, experience and sober time to achieve this goal, but I am patient. I am willing to listen and willing to learn. It is by being willing that I know this lofty ambition will indeed become a reality. I know that my sanity, my sobriety and my recovery will remain possible, if I work in the addiction field.

A Future Of Hope

I am enjoying this journey. The individuals that I have met on and offline offer encouragement, experience, hope and strength. They are what keep me sober. I’ve been dry, I’ve been sober and now I am in recovery. It is the most amazing experience in my life. For the first time, in a long time, I am looking forward to a future filled with possibility. Nothing compares to that and nothing ever will.

No Shame In Recovery

18 Apr

Shame And Recovery Do Not Mix

I have noticed that there are a high percentage of individuals who use the word “shame” when reflecting on their behavior when they were using. Do I feel shame because of my actions and choices that occurred while I was active in my disease? The answer to that is No.

Shame is a useless emotion. Feeling “shame” does not serve you in a positive way. This emotion creates massive amounts of guilt and can induce feelings that in truth are rather self-serving. If I fill myself up with shame for the things that I have done, where is there to go? Shame does not offer a solution, it only offers heartache.

As human beings, we will all inevitably do something that we regret. We all have made choices, made decisions or used our actions and words in a way that, upon reflection, wasn’t the right thing to do. The power that we have is in our ability to not repeat the same action again. We can make amends if it is possible, but we cannot change what is now a cold hard fact that will never change. To live in the land of “what can I do to make it right” or “how do I make it better” or “how can I fix this” is fruitless. You cannot change what you did in the past, even if the past was earlier today or twenty years ago. You live, you learn, you forgive and you move on.

Once you can accept and forgive yourself for not being perfect, you can get down to the truth of what you can control. Addicts live in a land of delusion where they feel they have power and control over their lives. Recovering addicts sometimes fool themselves into thinking they have control of their addiction and power over their disease. Occasionally, recovering addicts suffer from the mindset that they are superior because they have “beat” their addiction. The only control you have is you decision to any given situation. You have control over your reaction and the words that come out of your mouth. You cannot control another human being and you cannot control your past. It simply is what it is.

When we release the outcome of a situation, we realize that we have done our part, made our contribution, added our two-cents and what will be – will be. As we are entitled to nothing in this life, we are not guaranteed our desired outcome. The simplicity of keeping your side of the street clean is powerful. Take care of your business and live your life to the best of your ability. So you screwed up, you hurt people, you committed atrocities that you can barely stomach thinking about. We all have. The weight of our sins is relative. It’s what you do with the knowledge you have gained, by the choices you have made, that will impact the quality of the rest of your life.

I don’t become obsessed with the horrors of my past. I made amends when and where I could. The outcome of whether or not those people forgive me or understand me or commend me for being sober is irrelevant. I can’t control that. I did my part and I moved on. I continue to make mistakes and continue to make amends on a daily basis. The way that I find peace and why I can sleep at night is because I have accepted that I am a fallible, living, walking, and breathing human being with a purpose. I try to move forward and live a life that makes me proud of myself. I answer to God and feel that only he has the true right to judge me. If some people like me along the way, that’s just gravy for the day. There isn’t a soul among us who is better, holier, smarter or superior to any other person. We make mistakes; we pick ourselves up and do our best to not repeat them.

That is why shame shouldn’t be in the vocabulary of a recovering addict. It serves nothing and no one. Be mindful and vigilant of your actions now. Regret and have remorse for some of the actions of your past. Keep your side of the street clean and smile. You should find some sense of peace knowing that you have already won a battle that no one, especially yourself, thought you could. There is power in being a survivor; shame only continues the mindset of a victim. And you are not a victim.

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