Showing posts from April, 2014

Don't Let Your Feelings Stop You

So this is one of my secrets to getting better. My entire life changed the day I began to apply this simple (and free) prescription. Of course, after first hearing this from a wise friend at the age of 19, I first wasted another 10 years cowering and more or less paralyzed by self-consciousness and insecurity. When the going got tough, Charlie ran the other way. Don't do that.

     I spent the first 28 years of my life crippled by fear, and I've learned that the only way to conquer it is to literally walk right into it... and then right through it. Do the very things we fear. If we fear public speaking, speak publicly. If we fear intimacy, be intimate. If we fear what we have done to someone in the past, find that person and make a direct amends to him or her.
     Contrary to popular belief, recovering from addiction is all about growing up. It's not about avoiding triggers and talking in individual or group therapy about your family or your feelings. It's not ab…

Methadone & Powerlessness

Let me help out a bit.

     Just read another blogger who is a staunch supporter of Methadone, as well as Smart Recovery (CBT and no God), which is perhaps useful if you're not an actual alcoholic or drug addict, but if you are, then call me from detox when you relapse.
     As well, it's pretty strange to purposely keep the presence of a Higher Power out of the program given that an attitude of humility is so vital for alcoholics and addicts to achieve long-term sobriety and inner peace. Generally speaking, the arrogance (not to mention the irony) of 'I can do anything, I'm not powerless' when it comes to chronic relapse and drug addiction is, needless to say, quite dangerous. Um, yeah, if you could do anything on your own power than you probably wouldn't be a full blown drug addict now, would you?
     Of course, the notion of powerlessness in recovery is widely misunderstood. Physically, we will always be powerless. Mentally, however, powerlessness is a…

Are You Recovering or Recovered?

If you are recovered, you don't want to use anymore.
     If you are recovering, you still want to use.

     If you are recovered, you no longer suffer from thoughts to use.
     If you are recovering, you still suffer from thoughts to use.

     So if you still want to drink or use, have thoughts about drinking or using, or still suffer quite a bit, then (no offense) there is something wrong with your program.

     Our program should be good enough to not only eliminate all desire and thoughts to drink or use, but to provide at least moderate peace, contentment and happiness. If it does not accomplish these things, then it is no program at all. We are not okay if we still want to drink or use, or if we still think about drinking or using.

     The only option is to become recovered. We owe it to ourselves, and more importantly, to our parents, spouses, families, friends... and the rest of the world. So if our program isn't working, we may have to turn to something much gr…

Don't Isolate

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch 

     This is perhaps the single most important thing for addicts to understand if we truly want to recover and conquer ALL of our demons, not simply drug and alcohol addiction.

     It was by doing the very things I didn't want to do that fixed me and made me stronger. Doing the very things that scared me and made me uncomfortable, insecure and self-conscious is what repaired my mind and soul, enabling me to go from recovering to recovered. Making a tough amends, running a group or public speaking are good examples.

     At times we all feel like isolating, shutting off, going inward and avoiding people, places and things that push us out of our comfort zone. But this is exactly why the most important part of the Step process is to go work with other people. When we get up and force ourselves to sit with another addict who is suffering, it thrusts us out of isolation and lifts us up inside. It shifts …

Think Through A Drink? Huh???

"The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power." - Alcoholics Anonymous, p.43

     These few lines are prophetic. And may I point out that they contradict one of the most popular slogans today, "think through the drink" or "think it through". Sure thinking it through would be great if we could do that, but we cannot. That's what alcoholism is. That's what addiction is.

"Think through the drink" contradicts the principle of powerlessness, which is a fundamental principle of Alcoholics Anonymous. That the alcoholic or addicted mind is utterly powerless leaves us with no mental defense. People with no mental defense cannot think through a drink or drug. Furthermore, this slogan is an example of CBT, which is useless for true alcoholics and addicts because it is backwa…

Reward = Not Being An Addict

The reward in getting better is not being an addict.

     Trust me, acting counter to our old addict self really works. Try it. Try acting normal. Try working hard. Try being busy and productive. Try being a good person and giving to others. Try being honest and strong. Try having courage. Just try living right and you will see that it's like medicine.

     This is why a spiritual solution works. When we act right, it cures what ails us, as it feeds and nourishes our spirit and fills the emptiness within. What drugs and alcohol falsely provided us, acting right actually does provide.

     Right action also replaces our addiction with something powerful. Action is powerful stuff. There is energy in action. And ripple effects. Doing right begets more doing right, and things being to grow up all around us. I personally had to stop thinking and theorizing so much and just begin doing things - healthy, productive things. Putting one foot in front of the other year after year has g…

Ever Consider Not Running To Meds?

Dear suboxone and methadone lovers, not to mention the countless mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and other Godless psychotropics they try to shove down our throats for the pharmaceutical elite:

    I wish I had tried meditating regularly before going to McLean hospital to become a psychiatrist's slave.

    With our culture in a seemingly terminal decline, so many of us addicts and alcoholics and our poor families have become conditioned and trained to do the easiest but most dangerous thing for either our own or our loved ones' mental problems, especially when addicts should be doing the absolute least easy thing. The best remedies for us are undoubtedly those that require the greatest amount of work, discipline, discomfort, diligence, courage and personal insight.

     Not only did practicing zen meditation everyday for a year conquer my depression and anxiety, but it completely altered my bio-chemistry, contrary to popular belief. Doctors told me I wo…

Sobriety vs Changing

The reason alcoholics and addicts don't get better is very simple:

     They don't want to change.
     Sure, some may think they want to change or cry out that they've had enough and must change, but real change is quite different and quite dramatic. Real change refers to not simply wanting to be sober, but wanting to change the people we are, wanting to change the course of our entire lives. And this is why so many never get better. They either don't really want to change, or they want to change, but not completely.
     To recover, we have to be willing to drop everything, to rearrange everything, and to completely uproot ourselves if that's what it takes. We must be willing to do an entirely different type of job, to sever relationships or to cultivate relationships, to sacrifice our time, to do what we may not want to do, to never ignore our conscious and to never ignore another addict who is reaching out for help.

     To recover, we essentially have to …

Make It a Challenge

We've spent so much time focusing on our comfort and doing what's easy and soft, why not try the opposite? Instead of focusing on how many drugs you can take, focus on how much pain and reality and real life you can take.

     Think of it as the ultimate challenge, and we all know how much we hate losing things. As pathetic as we may be, we are still stubborn and obstinate and want to win. So make it a challenge, and know that with each problem we face, our character grows, we get stronger, and we build a reservoir of peace, freedom and relief. Make it your new form on intoxication, knowing that those who do this are strong and courageous. And since we are so self-seeking, know that these types of people are admired by others, and are considered quite a bit more attractive than emaciated junkies or falling down drunks.

     I remember having this attitude of like 'bring it on', back when I first grabbed onto this thing because I knew that I was only freeing myself…

Why I Do This

It's not because I want to eviscerate modern AA or tell people that what they're doing is wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. If what you're doing works then that's awesome and wonderful and God bless you. I just know how much I still suffered after only achieving physical sobriety and I want others to know there is a solution. You don't have to feel that way. You don't have to struggle.

     It's not because I want to be 'public' or because I want to violate the First Tradition, as some of the bashers like to assert, foaming at the mouth and so forth. And regarding the First Tradition, there is nothing private about AA or its history, or its founders, or the twelve step process, and even so, it doesn't matter because I'm not affiliated with AA in any way, shape or form. I simply took Steps to recover and choose to bring them to others in any way that I can, albeit with some additional commentary on the side. But don't f…

Moral Psychology

"We doctors have realized for a long time (not anymore, mind you) that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception (um, yeah, you can't give someone a pill to change them into a better person)." - Alcoholics Anonymous, xxvii

     What is moral psychology?

     Moral psychology is treating the soul through moral change or moral action. Thus, the desired effect that healing morally has on one's soul is procured through the application of moral psychology, and it is crucial to the recovery of an alcoholic or drug addict. Without moral change, we cannot heal spiritually, and if we cannot heal spiritually, we are doomed.

     The Big Book saved my life... and there is a very specific reason for that. It taught me that while there is no hope of achieving lifelong sobriety without healing and changing both morally and spiritually, there is hope if I do. This was prophetic to me, and I…

Establishment Puppets

I know I go off on the Establishment quite a bit, but the medical and academic hubris of certain doctors and the sort of obstinate, childlike understanding of addiction should be exposed in an effort to change conventional treatment programs for the better.

     The Establishment will never get it. In an article last year about my story, the twelve step process was challenged by some of the 'top' PhDs in the field of alcohol and drug addiction. It's difficult to fathom the intricate link these guys have to policy decisions given the lack of understanding or insight into the nature of addiction and the power of the spiritual solution. Not only that, but for all of the supposed cognitive prowess, the knowledge and understanding displayed about AA and the Steps was quite deficient. If we're going to comment on something in a national article, is it too much to ask to know our facts?

     Yes, Charlie, that is far too much to ask. And don't question us either, we a…


"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 scales 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.

     Believe it or not, but this is exactly how I felt after finishing about half of my amends. I came home one night from seeing some…

Addicts Are Self-Created

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."  - Aristotle

     Don't tell my family this, but the #1 reason I got better wasn't them. It probably should have been, but nope. Sorry.

     I was sick of being a coward. Sick of being a wimp. Sick of ravaging and murdering my soul. Additionally, I was sick of being selfish. I was sick of being fake. I was sick of being a loser. I was sick of being a victim. I always knew that I was lying to myself and others about being a victim.

Addicts are self-created. If I repeatedly drink and use drugs like an indulgent pig, that's what I become. Conversely, if I repeatedly pray, meditate, love, create and serve, I become a good, useful person. If there is one thing I've learned, it is that we make ourselves into who and what we become. Nobody else is responsible for that. Nothing else is to blame. If I am a success, it's because I made myself a success. If I am a failure, it's because I…