Showing posts from January, 2013

Don't Care How You Feel & Don't Care What You Believe

Spirituality isn't about trying to achieve constant rapture. It's about facing reality and being human.
     Charlie, we really don't care how you feel. Getting better has nothing to do with feelings. It's all action...

That is by far the most helpful thing anybody has ever said to me. Often when I start working with someone, they go on endless rants about how they feel - "Yeah but this, yeah but that..."It's always that somehow their addiction makes sense because of how they feel. And the best is that I don't understand. I don't understand how they feel so screwed over by someone, so unheard, so misunderstood, so alone, so weak, so useless, so depressed, so not living up to their potential, so blah, blah, blah. Um, yeah, I get it. I whined too about how nobody understands. I justified using drugs and alcohol like an absolute pig because of the way I felt. "Well, you would be drinking and sniffing heroin too if you went through what I wen…

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, bu…

AA Has Lost Its Way

I don't go to meetings anymore.

     One of the reasons is the guy who came up to me in the gym today and told me that I definitely need to go to more meetings, that I'm not gonna make it, and that I must not be an addict if I don't need meetings to be okay. If he had done some work on himself, like say, taken Steps, he might have refrained from taking my inventory. To state the obvious, going to meetings doesn't get people better. Right action does. Spiritual action does. And sorry, but I got better to take care of the people I love and to live the life I was supposed to live, not to go to meetings all day long.

     Most people in and out of AA think that the program of AA is going to meetings, though nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when people ask me if I'm in AA, they ask me if I go to meetings and how many I go to, to which I reply, "None." Then they freak out and tell me I'm going to relapse soon. I have been a recovered a…

Progress, Not Perfection

Um, just for the record, I make tons of mistakes and usually on a daily basis. I still lose it on idiot Massachusetts drivers who generally have such low self-esteem that when they do something wrong they regress into children, yelling and swearing at you because they nearly slammed into you while texting, thereby killing your wife and infant child sitting on the passenger side - yup, somehow that was my fault. Sometimes I lose patience with my wife for no other reason than I'm not basking in my comfort zone, so I figure I'll just take it out on her - like the other day when she was graciously helping me with some publicity stuff and I said in return, "Enough comments for now, thanks..." I still judge and criticize and generalize. I still make false assumptions and project my own flaws onto others. I still sometimes resent the very things that I do myself. I'm still sometimes a mouthy jerk who is petty, self-seeking, and almost pathologically selfish.


The Privileged Addict: How Not To Help Addicts

I came across a blog today for parents of addicts, the Addiction Journal Blog and the book, The Healing Game, and from what I've read, it struck me as a great resource. So in honor of the many other efforts out there, as well as the parents group I was privileged (no pun intended) enough to speak at the other night, here is my reply to their discussion about one of my posts, followed by the post itself, entitled, How Not To Help Addicts.

  Hi Bill and Everyone, Charlie here, author of The Privileged Addict book and blog... I just got home and saw Bill's generous post and ensuing discussion, and as requested, will try to contribute something worthwhile. Let me preface what I am about to say by honoring and respecting that we are all different, and different things work for different people. I am certainly not here to judge. 
  For me, though, a recovered drug addict, those who loved me the most helped me the least. All the love, support and 'frothy emotional appeal' …

Best of Times

"Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs." - Alcoholics Anonymous, p.20

     It was usually during the best of times that I wanted to get high the most. Why? Um, why not? If you can amplify the good times by getting jammed, then hey, load up. The whole myth that bad shit happening is what makes us HAVE to go out and drink or get high is all bullshit, trust me. Nothing bad has to happen to make addicts use. We want to use all the time, and especially when everything is going great.

     Why do we like to drink and use drugs like pigs during even the best of times? Simple, because we are the most selfish creatures on the planet. We will do anything to make ourselves more comfortable than we already are. The addict's life is about feeling good ALWAYS. We believe it is our divine right to remain in our comfort zone every second until the moment we die... and pathetically, even if that comes at th…

Why Addicts Can't Stay Sober

1) The mental obsession. A mere sober addict is still completely insane and subject to relapse. Sober-only addicts will experience thoughts to drink or use that do not respond to ration or reason. We can, however, remove this obsession through spiritual action and achieve lifelong sobriety, free from the danger of relapse. But if we don't change, if we don't restore ourselves to sanity and re-acquire the power of choice, we have no chance in hell.

     Usually the removal of such a condition requires divine intervention. To be more accurate, the result of our sincere work and desire to change may induce the power of God to remove our obsession, as man-made remedies simply aren't capable of such a task. There is no pill nor any expert that can remove this obsession. There is no pill that can make an insane man sane. And most importantly, the addict himself is not capable of removing his obsession. The combination of his insanity and his total loss of willpower leave him i…

To Parents, Spouses & Codependents

If you are living with an addict, you are living with a crazy person. If you read Melody Beattie's Codependent No More (which every spouse & parent of an addict should read), you will realize that by living with a crazy person, you can become some degree of crazy yourself.

     Therefore, parents and spouses of addicts may also be quite ill. If they have been preoccupied with our addiction all of these years, chances are they have been avoiding anything and everything inside themselves. If and when the addict recovers, what happens when this once ongoing distraction is removed? What happens is that all sorts of pain, anger, sadness, resentment and a mountain of other unresolved stuff comes bubbling to the surface.

     In some cases, parents, spouses and codependents might use someone else's addiction to avoid doing work on themselves. And sadly, when the addict does recover, their resentment sometimes grows much stronger. Their own flaws suddenly become more apparent…

Triggers & Relapse Prevention

I know I've said this before, but it's important...

     If an addict is honest with himself, he will admit that triggers don't exist. Breathing, waking up, the fact that we're alive - these are the only triggers. Everything is a trigger, or rather, nothing is. We don't need a reason to use. Triggers are flimsy excuses that allow us to avoid taking responsibility for relapsing. The truth is that so long as we suffer from the mental obsession, anything could be a trigger. The overwhelming thought to use will come for any reason or for no reason at all. So avoiding triggers is a useless endeavor. You cannot escape the mental obsession. The only way to free ourselves from triggers is to undergo a psychic change that fundamentally restores our minds, hearts and spirits.

     That's why relapse prevention is a joke. It assumes that triggers actually exist and as such, treatment amounts to avoiding people, places and things that make us want to use. Sorry, but t…

Question Everything

Even this.

Befriend The Darkness

Feelings don't have to stop us...

     We addicts need to learn to sit down beside our dark feelings and befriend them. We cannot let our feelings control, overwhelm, or have power over us. We must stay in the middle lane, do what we would normally do, and let our feelings fluctuate around us. Our feelings will always change, up and down, but they do not have to stop us and they do not have to have power over us. Whether good or bad, painful or joyful, the trick is to walk right through our feelings and push forward.

     Winston Churchill said astutely, "If you're going through hell, keep going... Never, never, never give up." Precisely. What are we going to do, stop in the middle of hell or turn back only to start all over again? I'm all set with that. If you fight your thoughts and feelings, they will only persist, and perhaps grow stronger. But if you let them just be, they will gradually dissipate and move on. And by letting them be as they are, by acce…


As addicts, it is very important for us not to engage in any sort of "I am a victim" attitude, as if life is so tough for us, and oh the burden that we have to endure being addicts. Um, we made ourselves addicts, remember?  We chose to use over and over again like a pig until we broke ourselves. So nothing made us addicts except for our cowardice. It is equally important for us not to pat ourselves on the back or give ourselves medals for getting better, or rather, for choosing to stop hurting others. And finally, it is imperative that we do not take credit for what we have done. The truth is that we BARELY deserve what we still have, and if we have any chance of rebuilding our lives, we must live in humility. We must forever remain under God, repelling arrogance of any sort.

     The moment we begin bronzing trophies for ourselves, it is game over. The moment we begin taking credit for recovering and for the blessings in our lives, it is game over. This doesn't mea…

Frothy Emotional Appeal

"Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices." 

     Translation: People can't keep us sober or fix us. That is, nothing anybody says has the power to restore us to sanity... so trying to plead with an addict is entirely a waste of time.

     "Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives... Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive, that while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks... and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery."…

Pills & Science Can't Help Addicts

"We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception. With our ultra-modern standards, our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our synthetic knowledge." -Alcoholics Anonymous, The Doctor's Opinion, xxvii

     Translation: You cannot fix an alcoholic or an addict without fixing him morally and spiritually. Pills and science cannot change addicts, turn them into better people, make them act right, or give them what they truly need to effect lasting recovery. Does taking a pill give you meaning and purpose? Do taking a pill give you principles and morals? Do taking a pill give you God? Nope. There is utterly no hope for alcoholics and drug addicts to get better if mainstream treatment methods and attitudes continue pumping medication as the solution.


Caution! AA Sponsor Approaching

My job as a sponsor: Hook you up with God and then get out of the way.

Action to Take: The Twelve Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Not my job as a sponsor: Call you, Drag you to meetings, Take you out bowling on Saturday night, Talk to you for hours on end about your problems and feelings.

Am I your friend? No.

Will we become friends? Perhaps, if and when you recover.

Will I ever tell you to do something that I haven't done myself? No.

Will I make decisions for you? No.

Will I tell you what colored socks to wear? No.

Should people who haven't taken Steps and recovered become sponsors? Absolutely not.

Do they? All the time, unfortunately.

Why shouldn't they become sponsors? Because their advice might actually kill you.

God, please take my will and make it Your own. Teach me how to be useful to others...

Reasons Don't Exist

Just like triggers, reasons don't exist either. The choice to use is a selfish one. Nothing makes us want to use. Regardless of what's happened to us or how miserable we are, WE choose to use and therefore WE are the reason. Nothing else and nobody else is the reason. This is why therapy is useless for a drug addict. Finding reasons why we use just gives us excuses to keep using.

     Wanh... I'm sad, angry, depressed, hurt, abused, victimized, blah, blah, blah... so I HAVE to use. See, now you know why I do what I do. You would do the same exact thing! Wanh, wanh, wanh...  
     Drug addicts use because they are selfish and want to use. Go ahead, send them to a therapist to work out their emotional issues. Trust me, once they've got it all figured out, they are going to go get high. Addicts don't need a reason, nor the resolution of a reason,to use. I'm telling you that even the happiest kid from a loving family will turn into an addict for no reason at al…

Tao Wisdom 22, 24

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn't display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn't know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn't stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

-Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu

Any Lengths?

"Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.58

     Sad that this paragraph from the Big Book has become a common preamble in AA meetings. Why? Because its rote recitation further diminishes its meaning and interpretation... and therefore its implementation.
     We "disclose our stories in a general way..." Really? Because the laundry list of war stories and sob stories I hear spewed out so often doesn't sound too general - "I did this, and I did that, and can you believe I did this, and could you believe I did that! Man, I used to drink a 30-pack a night!" I never heard general anything when I used to go to meetings, unless by general we refer to a lack of sophistication and understanding of one's problem and what to do about…

The Privileged Addict, pp.154-155

     “What can I do? I’ll do anything. We’ll do anything. What’s it gonna' take? You name it, any doctor, treatment, medication, rehab, anything. There must be something I can do!”
     Back then I didn’t know how to tell Mom that there was absolutely nothing neither she nor anyone else could do. There was nothing I could take, nothing I could learn, nothing that could be beaten into me, nothing that all the money in the world could buy that would cure me. My problem wasn’t even really drugs and booze, but what happened to me in their absence. The truth? I was missing something, and it was now time to fill up the abyss. It was time to rely on something other than my fucked up head to guide me through life. It was time to evolve and to learn how to pray.
     So I took a 3rd Step. I wrote it out on a piece of paper to make sure I did it perfectly, and then met some fellow junkies in the chapel. I brought a pillow for my bony knees because I was still a little wimp. We knelt down and…