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Showing posts from June, 2012

Menial Tasks/Tactics

I now employ a slew of tactics to ward off the depression, anger, boredom, frustration and other spiritual demons. The Big Book refers to them as RID (Restlessness, Irritability, Discontent), and they occur when we remove the substances. In fact, they tend to occur when we remove any kind of distraction whatsoever. And besides the spiritual or psychological work that all of us addicts and alcoholics must do, I usually have to engage in all sorts of menial tasks to try to get out of my head and raise my seratonin/dopamine levels. Ultimately, however, there no is activity that can fix us or free us. We must turn to something much Greater. 

     But they sure are useful.

     Exercise is one. And sure it's like a form of torture to get up and go for a run after years of remaining sedentary. Making it a routine is near impossible, but I can assure you that once you motivate to exercise enough times, it becomes less difficult, and eventually it's just like eating or sleeping... or so…

Drugs For Drugs?

Guess what the best, Harvard educated minds gave me to solve my problem with drugs? Drugs. Yes, I'm aware that such advice sounds like a ridiculous joke. And yes, the best and brightest of an entire medical community know little more than nothing about addiction and treating addiction. Doctors and psychiatrists think that addiction is purely a bio-chemical issue. They also think that addiction should be part of a dual-diagnosis (hoax), sitting beside some mental illness. The truth is they haven't the faintest clue how to treat your addiction, so they just treat you for mental illness (and usually fail at that as well, especially since much of it is induced by the substance use).

     Take some of the drugs I've been offered just for the drug-related portion of my problem: methadone, suboxone, ativan.

     Methadone and suboxone are opiates, like heroin or oxycontin. The argument is that at least you're not buying dope off the street and we can ween you off in a cl…

Grand Canyon

One of the things that tortured me about being sober was the enormous space between who I was and who I wanted to be. Being jammed helped me forget about what I could do with my life, but sober, it hit me like a ton of bricks. All of my abilities stared me in the face. Ruled by fear, I never pushed through my feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity to just do what I loved. I never really pursued my gifts... yet remained convinced that I was put on earth to write songs and stories, play music and act.

     The great canyon between who I was in reality and who I knew I could be felt too overwhelming. Crossing this great divide was too far a journey. I barely took a first step without going to pieces. And it was this very gap that killed me. It ripped me apart inside. It was this predicament that caused me endless agony. It fed and fueled my depression. It maintained my state of sober paralysis. And finally, it convinced me that the easier choice would be to just become a drug…

Removing Substances

Fallacy: Once I remove the alcohol, I'm no longer an alcoholic.

     When we remove the drugs and alcohol, what is left? Well, let me tell you what is left: A living, walking, breathing nightmare.  We alcoholics are worse when you take away our alcohol, not better. If you think we were selfish when drinking, just wait until we try white-knuckling it. Our self-absorption reaches new heights, sometimes becoming pathological. Our preoccupation with self reaches new heights. Our minds become saturated with nothing but our feelings, our thoughts, our discomforts, our frustrations, our boredom, our anger and our depression. Our attitudes deteriorate rapidly. Our capacity for intimacy and friendship deteriorate rapidly. Our willingness to serve others becomes non-existent. To even think about others becomes a form of torture. So I hope there is no one else in a sober and untreated addict's life because they're definitely not getting any attention. In fact, they're most l…

Fear Inventory

(Also see Resentment,Resentment Inventory,Resentment Inventory Example and Sex Inventory.)

     Fear is selfish. It prevents me from being useful and from growing spiritually. I thought it was real and that feelings might actually kill me. But by avoiding things that scared me, the fear grew stronger. So to deflate it, I do the exact thing that frightens me. If I fear confrontation, I confront. If I fear public speaking, I speak publically. If I fear intimacy, I become intimate. To conquer it, do it. Doing it vaporizes the fear and gradually the action in question becomes easier. Someone told me once that I don’t have to let feelings stop me. Guess I managed to block that out for a while.
     Fear inventory. The instructions are: a) write down each fear I’ve ever had,b) write why I fear each one c) dig deeper to find why Ireally fear each one, and d) figure out why it’s selfish to have that fear. The task was to peel away and uncover what was really underneath my fears. Here are some ba…

Adopt A Belief?

One thing I tried to do to get better was to simply adopt a belief. I believed in all sorts of things. On top of that, I was a walking self-help book. I studied the spiritual principles of love and kindness contained within Buddhism and Christianity. Meanwhile, I was a liar and a phony. I manipulated people and abused them. I stole people's time, energy, love and trust.

     Belief without action is useless. You could be a pedophile or a serial killer and believe in God. Just because I go to church and believe in Jesus or Buddha or Yahweh or Allah or whatever, that means I am a righteous person? So I can go hit the Sunday service and pray to Jesus but then come home and beat my wife, beat my kids, pound a 12-pack and watch the football game while everybody is bleeding in the background, and it's all good??? That's awesome. No need to worry then because even though I might be a total piece of shit, I'm automatically going to be saved and go to Heaven just because I Belie…

Palpable Depression

Sinking into a severe depression is absolutely brutal and absolutely terrifying. It is intense and it is crippling. The terror is thinking and believing that it may never end. You don't know how to get out of it and nothing you try works. You think that the rest of your life will be filled with the agony of depression, void of all joy and pleasure. You feel like a veil of darkness covers every inch of your life experience. I know what this feels like. I've felt it many times. And when the depression lifted, I felt like it was gone and would never come back. And then it came back. Many times. It was the single greatest scar on my life experience, far worse than my alcohol and drug addiction.

     Depression stings. It bites and stabs and burns. It rips you apart. It paralyzes you. It numbs you in every possible way. It somehow grabs hold of your mind and robs you of your will, let alone your mere ability to function. It convinces you that there is really no reason to live life t…

Resentment Inventory

We write inventory to extract resentment, fear and sexual misconduct, which if left in the body will cause all sorts of damage, both spiritual and physical. Here we deal specifically with resentments, which block us from truly getting better, as they form a wall between us and God. But inventory is a miraculous tool and should be used by anyone seeking to grow and rid themselves of the various forms of spiritual poison.

     Before reading and using these instructions, please first read the post, Resentment.

(See also Resentment Inventory Example afterwards for an example, as well asFear Inventory,Sex InventoryMore InventoryHome Depot Inventory, Professor Masshole & Resenting Ourselves?.)

     So here are the instructions for writing resentment inventory:

     1) Write the name of the Person, Institution (place) or Principle (idea) that we resent. Just the name.
     2) Write the Specific Resentment we have towards that person, institution or principle. This could be what they…

Untreated Alcoholism

The problem with only achieving physical sobriety is that we may never get any better.

     Why?

     Because sobriety doesn't cure insanity, nor does it reduce selfishness. Sobriety doesn't stop us from constantly whining and complaining, from thinking about ourselves 24/7. How ridiculous it is to get sober but remain mentally and spiritually warped beyond comprehension. In fact, if you're gonna kick it and not really change, you might as well just keep drinking. At least you'd be making a small economic contribution.

     Most addicts are actually more annoying when they're sober yet untreated, if you can fathom that. We remain needy and obsessed with how we feel all of the time.

     Oh no, what am I doing in life?! What am I gonna do today? What am I gonna do tomorrow?! Nobody knows what it's like to be me. Me! Why do I feel this way? Poor me. Nobody has it this tough! The world owes me! I need a cigarette, I need this, I need that, I need to go to a me…

Service = Silver Bullet

Service is the best medicine...

     I remember plummeting off the cozy pink cloud I was perched upon after reading inventory and making some amends. I felt euphoric and invincible... and then all of my spiritual tools began wearing off. Eventually, there was no buzz anymore. Time to learn how to live life without always feeling good. Time to learn how to work on myself for the sole purpose of staying sane. So that's what I did. I wasn't going to become a coward again. I wasn't going to be ruled by fear. But despite the fact that I feel mundane and human, there is one thing that still works every time: 

     Helping others.

Every time I speak publicly at a meeting, school, sober house or hospital, I am filled again with a spiritual charge. It flows through me for several hours and I am reminded of this Power that exists beyond the scope of Self. Every time I sit down and take a sponsee through the Big Book, I am also filled with Spirit. The change is noticeable. You can see i…

AA Slogans

I hate to say it, but most AA slogans are pretty much nonsense. Imagine an AA bumper sticker that directly contradicts the fundamental principle of AA. I'm not sure you want to advertise advice that might kill the people you want to reign in, especially when you're attaching AA's namesake to a bunch of utter bullshit. Now, I'll admit there are one or two diamonds in the rough, so I promise to give them their due another time. But for now, let's just take it from the top:

"Just Don't Drink" & "Put The Plug In The Jug"

     These two slogans contradict the fundamental principle of the very 1st Step of AA - that we are powerless of alcohol. Having no power over alcohol means that alcoholics have LOST the ability to 'just not drink'. We have lost the power to choose whether we drink or not. It is an obsession, an insanity that we cannot fight alone. Sure this might work if you're not really an alcoholic, but for any certified…

Comfort Addicts

Suffering after getting sober is good. In fact, it's a necessary test...

     Addicts and alcoholics (same thing) are addicted to comfort. Finding and maintaining comfort is a compulsion and a preoccupation. The problem many addicts face is that once we get sober, we still need to feel good ALL OF THE TIME. So we start using the tools we have acquired (tools meant solely to keep us sane) to get a little buzz, albeit spiritual. Sure, getting a lift from meditating or writing inventory or speaking at a meeting is far better than jamming a needle into our vein, but it shouldn't be entirely ignored.

     If we do this spiritual work only to feel better, what happens when it doesn't work anymore? What happens when it no longer gives us that charge and merely keeps us from going insane again? What happens is that we start looking for more ways to feel good. We gradually become more selfish and more preoccupied with our comfort again. Sooner or later our minds begin to deter…

Accosting Religiosity

I used to accost Jesus freaks who hung out in the subway stations wearing wooden planks and passed out end-of-the-world pamphlets. I yearned for them to suffer the shame of hearing what I thought was the truth. I couldn't wait to show them how brainwashed and stupid they were, how IQ tests don't measure low enough to cover these neolithics. How do you like that? Sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it?

     Well, that's because it is... and this is who I used to be, which is amusing considering I am a Christian. But this is how pathetic and arrogant I was. I used to unleash rage against religious fundamentalists. I couldn't fathom the assertion that someone else could "save" them, positive that only we can save ourselves. I couldn't fathom their denial of certain anthropological facts and blind belief in things that may never have occurred. I couldn't fathom their certainty in thinking they knew the truth about God and how everybody else was wrong an…

Rushing Out

Addicts shouldn't be waking up and rushing out of the door first thing in the morning. If I don't wake up and take some time to pray, breathe, be still, read some passage... the rest of my day is a total, utter disaster. The days I rush out are the days that drivers cut me off sending me into a rage, the days creditors call and accuse me of being a deadbeat, the days that I cut myself and have to turn around and drive home to bandage myself up, leaving me late and stressed out to some appointment. Those are the days that I cop resentments about everything because everything pisses me off, the days my mind starts racing again and I feel myself going nuts, the days that remind me how NOT better I really am.

     On the other hand, when I remember to wake up and stop first before speeding out of the door, the day is entirely different. It's almost like magic. I just have to remember to get grounded and connected before subjecting myself to the endless noise of the world.…

Treatment

I had another topic for tonight but felt as though I should follow up on how to help the alcoholic or addict in your life.

     So if for some reason you have been able to get through the delusional head of an alcoholic or drug addict and they finally come crawling for help, then first things first.

     Get them to detox.

     Nobody can even begin to heal, grow and change without a clear head. Many hospitals have detox programs that can be accessed through their Emergency Rooms. Walk in and tell the intake nurse that you're an addict and need help. It's as simple as that. If the addict tests for cocaine only, the hospital may reject him or her based on the fact that there is no immediate danger from cocaine withdrawal. In that case, I hate to say it, but go get them drunk and then walk back in. This way they'll test positively for alcohol. Alcohol and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc.) are the only two classes of drugs that can be lethal to with…

How Not to Help Addicts

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Tell an addict what he wants to hear and you might as well sign his death warrant. In other words, the people who told me what I wanted to hear helped me the least. Conversely, the people who told me what I didn't want to hear helped me the most. If you care about someone and want them to get better, do not let them steal from you anymore, whether it's your time, energy, love, home or money. The trick is to treat them for what they are. Treat them like an alcoholic, a drug addict, a criminal, a child, or a selfish jerk who causes you nothing but pain. Addicts, of course, cannot be stopped. But spouses, families and friends can help their cause by putting their feet down as much as possible. You may not agree, but at least it gives you a hand to play.

     Do not shower addicts with love, affection, money, or any other "helpful" thing. Only by removing privileges will you have a chance to stop us. You must remove everything you possibly can, even your presence. Addic…

Resentment

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"Anger and resentment are like acid to a seeing eye. They burn and blind the eye so that it cannot see clearly anymore. As long as they inhabit the body, forgiveness is impossible. But when I become accountable for everything in my life, all of it magically crumbles and suddenly I can forgive anyone. I just don’t care anymore because there is nothing left to blame. Above all, I can forgive myself. That is a miracle." - The Privileged Addict, p.165

Why do I write inventory? 

     To extract resentment from my body.

What is resentment?

     It's a form of emotional poison caused by an inability to perceive things clearly. Resentment is not caused by anything external. It is not caused anybody else, contrary to popular belief. It is caused by me and me alone. Sure, some person may have wronged me terribly. But the birth of the resentment and it's growing presence within is caused by my reaction to that event. I caused it, own it, and therefore nobody and nothing ca…

Mental Obsession

Mental Obsession: Recurring thoughts or ideas that do not respond to ration or reason.

     Besides the physical allergy and the underlying spiritual illness, the other component of addiction is the presence of a mental obsession - a very unique form of insanity, and one that can manifest quite randomly and for no apparent reason. It is also otherwise non-existent except when it rears its demonic head.

     According to the Big Book, the mental obsession can manifest itself in two ways: randomly or deliberately. When we deliberately succumb to the obsession to drink or get high, we are justifying it. We suddenly believe that we have the right to get plastered because nobody feels the way we do, because our job is stressful or our boss is an asshole, because we feel anxiety or because our best friend backstabbed us, because we lost a parent prematurely or because the town we live in sucks. Whatever the case, we are convinced that we have the right to stick a needle in our arm beca…

Drug Induced Mania

I remember going to some dinner thing at my in-laws years ago. My poor wife just wanted me to act like a normal, sweet guy so her family wasn't absolutely terrified. That didn't happen.

     First, the one thing I never could help doing was to get jammed out of my freaking mind before any sort of social event. Then I dress up as if I was actually successful - some mix of a Wall Street hot shot / glamour model / Harvard intellecutal. Upon entering, all of the self-indulgent stories and jokes I rehearsed come barreling out of my mouth. I'm sure everybody is looking at me with awe and envy. Um, yeah they were looking, but only in disgust. The only person in the room who is actually comfortable is me. Everybody else is annoyed beyond belief and suffering my presence.

     Quick little reminder to any addicts out there who happen to be in one of your manic, show-off phases: Nobody is looking at you. Nobody cares what you're doing. Nobody cares about your intellect, you…

'Living' Amends

I was taught to distinguish between a 'contractual' amends and a 'living' amends. Contractual amends are the easy ones. You confront, admit your wrong, ask what you can do to make it right, and then wipe your hands and check it off your 8th Step amends list. Confronting one of your old bosses is easy. Walking into a department store you stole from is easy. Being accountable to an old friend or colleague is easy. Why? Because you get to walk away afterwards, cross it off, and probably never see these people again. Or if you do see them, the slate is clear. But not so with our families. The slate is NEVER clear.

     A living amends goes on until the day that I die. Those closest to me have no interest in hearing a quick "sorry" and then off I go. First of all, we don't say "sorry" when we make amends. Our spouses and relatives have heard "sorry" more than they can stand, only to see us repeat the same destructive and heartbreaking …