Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Addiction Is a Spiritual Problem

     Addiction is a spiritual problem.

     Yes, I understand there are physical and mental components, but these elements manifest themselves after we have become spiritually ill. Addiction is a symptom of spiritual malady. That is the truth, regardless of what anyone may say.

     Before moving on to the solution, it is imperative to explain the mental component to better help non-addicts truly understand what it's like to be an addict. The mental problem we have is why once we get sober, we cannot stay that way. People have to understand that there is nothing that can stop us from using once that switch goes off in our heads, even if we've been sober for months and months at a time. This is what it means to have no power, to have lost the power of choice. Perhaps a brief anecdote may help to describe the curious phenomenon of having a broken mind, if you will.

     Years ago, while working in Boston, I writhed in bed for days like a coward before finally kicking OxyContin and heroin. I withdrew all substances from my body and was totally clean and sober. About five days later, as I began to feel better, I remember having a conversation with myself as I drove home from work. I was done. I knew it in my heart. I went over my entire life and came to grips with the tragedy, loss and heartache my addiction had caused everyone around me. I felt strong and confident. I wanted a better life. I committed to never going back. I was done for good.

     Then the phone rang.

     It was my one of my dealers.

     This you must understand: As soon as the phone rang, for all intents and purposes, the car drove itself off of Storrow Drive and straight to my dealer's house. I didn't think for a split second. I couldn't. Why? Because it was just a reflex at that point. I saw my caller ID and the entire 20-minute conversation I had with myself seconds before just vanished into thin air and I ripped the steering wheel around and sped to his house without a single thought entering my head (except what's the quickest route?). And please don't mistake my phone or the dealer's number as a trigger, because it's not. Breathing is the only trigger. If the dealer didn't call, I wouldn't have made it out of the city anyway. The phone is irrelevant.

     To note, what I just described was purely a mental phenomenon and had nothing to do with the physical disease of addiction, or rather, the physical compulsions associated with addiction. The 'disease' portion of our addiction only manifests AFTER we begin using. When we are completely sober, what occurs is purely mental (and spiritual, of course).

     And that, my friends, is the mental obsession. We have no defense against it. Trust me, no doctor, pill, therapy session, call from a sponsor or relapse prevention program can do anything at all once an obsession of this sort manifests itself in our minds. That is a type of insanity that cannot be fought and conquered by any human force. We are completely, utterly defenseless. That is addiction. That is why we can't stay sober. We go insane.

     So what is the solution?

     If our problem is spiritual than so must be our solution.

     The solution is spiritual action, or practically speaking, SERVICE. The very moment we become other-centered is the very moment we begin to change and recover permanently (mentally, not physically, as we will never be safe from actually drinking or using drugs of any sort. Our bodies are permanently damaged). But the secret to addiction is service, which is why the entire Western medical community has no clue how to treat it. They try and they try but they just can't seem to crack it. Plus there's no financial incentive in telling drug addicts to simply give of themselves. But if we really want to get better and truly change, we have to serve others instead of ourselves. Service is the SILVER BULLET. Best thing for addicts, by far.

     And why does spiritual action and service work? Because with each right action, we are brought closer to God. And GOD, of course, can heal anybody of anything.

7 comments:

  1. thank you for sharing your experience it gives me insight to perhaps what my AS son may experience ''mental obsession'' but permanately damaged?

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    1. I read your earlier post. Are you saying that if a person is addicted to say Cocaine - he has to stay away from all substances - he cannot even have a beer - even though that person never had a problem with alcohol? Its a tough cross to carry - if even a glass of wine can send you down the slippery slope or a blown relapse?

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    2. Senta-the worrisome thing about addiction, is that is is simply that-addiction.I have seen drug addicts turn into alcoholics after giving up drugs, over eaters turn into gamblers after getting their food addiction under control,compulsive shoppers turn into porn addicts, once they have decided to sat home instead of going to stores.The addiction is the core problem, and what needs to be addressed-not necessarily the substance.

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  2. Amazing post, Thanks Charlie.

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  3. I just found your blog last week...my daughter is 21 been an addict since 2008 beautiful smart cheerleader she was suppposed to go to mass pharmacy and health science collegein Boston. ...fast forward to now she has prostituted herself worked in strip clubs, lives in out motels, shelters, stays with any guy she meets...wanders streets of Holyoke ma....I brought her to detox 6 times since september have sectioned 35 sectioned 12 befire that...its heart breaking...I dont know what to do I see her once a week let her know I love her and see what her "plan" is..but anyways I can go on and on but ill spare you...I love reading your blog and love your attitude on your recocery...

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  4. Addiction is not solely or even chiefly driven by spirituality or lack thereof. Its causes are far more complex than that, as behavioral medicine is discovering. If it were so strongly related to spirituality, AA and other 12 Step groups would have far greater success rates than saving 5-8% of people who enter either program. The time has come for recognition of other approaches to the illness of addiction, beyond what was written by Depression-era evangelical Christians.

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    1. Bravo, bravo. Lol, kidding. I guess we can assume you've never witnessed a scientific miracle. I think we can also assume you're not an addict. Often people talk like this when they have no direct experience with the subject matter. This sounds much like a removed academic observation.

      For one, AA as you know it is an entirely different program from the Step process, though for the typical academic, the Steps are just a poster on the wall in the church basement. The problem with doctors & scientists and their followers is that it's difficult to get them to see beyond their narrow and linear frame of mind regarding addiction. More importantly, they talk about addiction with such certainty while having zero personal experience with it in the real world.

      The presence of the mental obsession proves that doctors and academics are completely wrong about addiction treatment. The body of an addict and the physical symptoms of addiction are irrelevant. The problem of staying sober centers in the mind, and unfortunately, pills and science cannot repair the broken mind. They cannot restore an addict to sanity, nor can they change a person fundamentally, which is quite necessary if we have any chance to really recover.

      If your unfounded stats are true, which I'll just assume are not because your models appear to be broken, it is simply due to the fact that 92-95% of people in AA don't take Steps. People who complete and continue the work required in the Steps do not fail, and said actions have nothing to do with 'Depression-era, evangelical Christians.' Writing inventory, making amends, being a good person and helping others is a fairly simple, timeless and universal recipe.

      P.S. Ironic that we are in a Depression now, and have been since 2009... and yes, there is math as well as a plethora of facts to prove that. However, thanks for chiming in. Appreciate the argument, however weak it may be ;-)

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