Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Arrested Recovery"

     The problem with trying to explain the Steps on paper or a screen is that it isn't yet REAL for the addict. There is no actual experience of it on the inside, as writing, reading, studying and talking about the Steps is simply an intellectual pursuit. Who cares about any of that if the addict still feels like shit inside, if his or her inner life is still smothered in darkness, grief, pain, boredom, depression and fear?

     It is true that all any addict or alcoholic needs to do is to find God, but that is much easier said than done. A true catharsis is necessary to propel us into this new fundamental mindset, this new and permanent conviction. A true conversion resulting from a profound spiritual experience must often occur to drive a person to suddenly put their spiritual growth and their relationship with God before all else.

     Truth be told, I am frightened of nothing anymore except messing with my relationship with God. What God has done for me... how selfish and stupid I would be to try to live by self-will and do whatever I please. God came out of the Great Unknown one night and briefly touched me with His infinite love and power. That brief encounter was enough to instantly restore my mind, heart and soul and enable me to suddenly put Him first before everything. I probably don't have the balls to pull an Abraham, but I do take this stuff pretty seriously.

     And this is where we see 'arrested recovery', which was astutely coined by the guy who turned up North into up North many years ago and which refers to some combination of a refusal to continue growing, searching and acting beyond the Steps as well as substituting our addiction for vanity, ego, prestige, sexuality - something empty and fruitless. Unfortunately he is no longer there, which leaves quite the hole in the intellectual gravitas of the program.

     At any rate, a lot of guys and girls will take Steps and be lucky and blessed enough to be touched by the Holy Spirit, and then what do they do? They come home on a pink cloud and stop doing the work. They take their spiritual condition for granted, stop taking Steps, and relapse. Then they blame the Steps, they blame the treatment center, they blame family stress, they blame 'worldly clamors', they blame social injustice (lol), they blame anything but themselves.

     But the truth is that if we deteriorate mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it is no one else's fault but our own. It is because we became arrogant, lazy and unwilling to meet "a few simple rules" as the Big Book notes. If these guys would simply finish making all of their amends, continue writing inventory when resentments and fears crop up, continue to pray and meditate, continue to help others when possible and continue to expand their program and evolve, they would all be fine.

     What, is that too much to ask? Too much work? Actually, given the amount of effort we put into becoming a junkbox and taking selfishness to a whole new level, I would say it's a pretty small effort and a pretty small price to pay, wouldn't you? 

     I will continue doing this because it helps parents and spouses, the people who deserve help and relief more than we ever will, but the point of this has always been to help people find God. Finding God is the solution for addiction and alcoholism, followed up by a lifetime of spiritual action, but again, the problem is neither I nor anybody else can with any justice explain in words what needs to happen to an addict. Addicts need to somehow find the willingness to give themselves to this process and have a REAL INTERNAL EXPERIENCE for themselves, which ignites the spiritual fire inside.

     It is possible to shift your entire frame of mind and attitude towards life, self and others, but nobody can do that for you. You can't 'get it' by just reading or talking about it in group. It can't be bought or beaten into you. You have to earn it through rigorous effort. You have to reach out from deep within and ask for it. Ask God to help you earnestly and He will help you... so long as you are willing to back it up with some action.
     
     God, help me always to remember the point of everything is to do Your will and help people find You. Teach me to care about nothing else. Remind me that this alone has driven me from the very second I recited the 7th Step prayer back in 2005. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ten Years... Yeah, So?

     My day starts around 5:30 when my 3-year old wakes up, runs downstairs and jumps on my head, asking me if it's TV day in a loud, whiny, tired, hungry voice. After that it's non-stop until about 10:30pm when I'm finally allowed to be unconscious for a few hours. The point is that I completely spaced it was 10 years last week. Guess what I did to celebrate 10 years?

     Nothing.

     I didn't dress up and go to a meeting to collect a chip, eagerly anticipating my moment of glory as everybody clapped for me while I proudly walked up the isle. I didn't have a party with all of my friends and family to recognize the occasion.

     Why?

     Because it's not an occasion. It's not anything. Sobriety isn't an accomplishment. We don't need trophies because we finally grew up, took some responsibility, did some work and stopped acting like a garbage disposal. We don't need to announce anything.

     We need less announcing. More doing.

     The idea is to forget all about our sobriety date because we are busy living life, as opposed to sitting around, holding on by a thread, waiting to collect a sobriety chip. If we simply put one foot in front of the other and continuously take right, productive action, sooner or later we forget we were ever an addict to begin with and simply rejoin normal life where people get up, go to work, have a family, pursue some dream, whatever.

     P.S. By the way, I know so many people on psychotropics who were not mentally ill and let me tell you, now they are mentally ill! Psychotropics are poisonous. The effect on both brain and body is toxic, not to mention the fact that you are rewiring something that shouldn't be rewired. You can only play God so much before the shit hits the fan and some poor guinea pig goes apoplectic, has a psychotic break and brings on some death just to relieve himself.

     Hey, if you want to experiment on your brain, fine, knock yourself out, but what do you say we leave the kids out of it? Is it really necessary to medicate our children to the point of catatonia because they don't want to stare at a chalkboard and be dumbed down and de-individualized all day long by some overpaid, robotic collectivist at his or her local government school.

     Give the kid a fucking paintbrush, a guitar, or a soccer ball instead, Jeez. ADD is a social disease (like so many others). Most of the R&D is funded by pharmaceutical companies and/or government grants, which should tell you all you need to know. They get the results they need. They get the results they are looking for.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How Does One 'Smash a Moral Compass' & Get Rid of Self?

From Addicts & Alcoholics Will Suck You Dry.

Comment:

I both hate and love posts like these Charlie...they are hard for me to read but at the same time I know they are exactly what I need to hear.

Of course, the hardest part is not simply accepting that we can't let our addicts suck us dry any longer...the hardest part is actually doing something about it. I would love to "smash a moral compass" into my addict, but how on earth to do that? Letting them lose us seems like the only road to take, but it's a risky one because there is no guarantee at all that they are going to come around - for some people being "abandoned" is just going to give them an excuse to descend deeper into darkness.

These matters are so difficult. Thank you for providing guidance to us, the parents and partners, who struggle and suffer so much.


Response:

Thank you and bless you. You're right, it's certainly a tall task to smash a moral compass into an addict and one I've never seen accomplished by a non-addict/alcoholic. One of the reasons why the Steps can be so powerful and mystical is because they seem to only work when brought to us by another alcoholic or addict, as only he or she can instill the sort of confidence necessary to get through to us about the moral issue. We don't listen to non addicts. We listen to those who used and felt the way we did and then recovered.

Regarding letting go, remember that you're abandoning the addict, the addiction, as opposed to the person you love. Addicts are essentially possessed. When people use drugs and alcohol, they become vulnerable energetically and open to all sorts of evil entering the body. At any rate, sure there is no guarantee we will come around, but there is no guarantee anyway. At least by letting go you have a hand to play, as we at least suffer the consequence of losing something that perhaps we don't want to lose, i.e. you.

I know it's tough, believe me. It's confusing because addicts become so insane. Who would act in such a way? But the bottom line is this: Those of us who get better are those who deep down want to change, those of us who want to evolve and grow spiritually. Those who don't recover and commit themselves to this work simply don't want to change. 


Comment:
  
Okay Charlie, thank you. It is hard to know what to do with this information but I understand what you are saying. It's just hard when the addict is *mostly* sober and has improved the way they treat people *somewhat* - they feel they're doing an awesome job. How can I convey to them that they need to go somewhere and have a "moral compass" smashed into them? I mean they just don't get how self-centered they are...don't get it at all. My addict is not going to go to a meeting when they feel their addictions are already conquered. Even though they need the Steps like you wouldn't believe.  

Response: 

"I mean they just don't get how self-centered they are...don't get it at all."

I hear you. And the only remedy I know for this is diving head first into the 12 Step actions as they are laid out in the Big Book. I'm sure there are other methods to achieve the same goal, but for addicts and alcoholics, the Steps are by far the best remedy we have to address our two central problems: self-centeredness and spiritual sickness.

My only other suggestion is for families and spouses to engage in the Steps on their own, for their own relief, especially to utilize tools such as the 4th Step resentment inventory. Putting resentments to rest can give family members and/or spouses a tremendous amount of peace and freedom, peace that they so richly deserve. As well, prayer and meditation are both crucial.


Response: 

The other best remedy for all this stuff, for addiction and selfishness in general, is simply service. Go help people. Volunteer. Go to the soup kitchen. Help family. Help friends. Help neighbors. Serve. Anything to help others and get outside of self is the secret. That's really why the Steps work. It's ALL about the removal of self. That is the silver bullet that slays addiction, and yet, the mainstream never admits or acknowledges that. Give an addict a purpose that involves helping people and it will save them... and yes, that goes for all of them. The solution for addiction has nothing to do with pills and science. Regardless of what people think or how mad they get at me, that is the truth. The solution for addicts and alcoholics is service and honesty. God.

Working with Others 
Why Service Works 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Human Responsibility Beckons

Addicts should get better...

     ...because we have officially given up the right to drink and use.
     ...because we have maxed out how much we can take from others.
     ...because life is not about us feeling good 24/7.
     ...because it's okay to suffer a little bit. It's called being human.
     ...because the demeanor of an addict is as unattractive as it is annoying.
     ...because we are so stuffed with bullshit, we don't know where the truth ends and the lies begin.
     ...because cowardice is no recipe for worldly success, not is it an indicator of future happiness.
     ...because as human beings, we have the responsibility to act in a way we would recommend to all others.
     ...because nothing and nobody is to blame for our addiction. Addicts are self-created.
     ...because the world doesn't owe us anything.
     ...because we have become morally and spiritually destitute.
     ...because our attitude has devolved into all manner of delinquency.
     ...because there is no such thing as a "trigger."
     ...because there is no excuse for being an addict, whether genes, depression, rough childhood, you name it.
     ...because we alone made ourselves addicts and therefore we alone are responsible to get better.
     ...because we have given up the right to whine, complain, and pretend to be some sort of victim.
     ...because life is not about pathological self-focus.
     ...because when what we do begins to affects others negatively, it becomes wrong to continue doing what we are doing.
     ...because we have stopped giving a shit about anything or anybody except ourselves.
     ...because it is wrong to abuse drugs and alcohol.
     ...because we are no longer concerned about your needs, only what we need from you.
     ...because nobody likes to be around a loud, obnoxious, emaciated, sweating, lesion-covered addict who can't stop itching himself.
     ...because remaining this sick and this selfish when there is a solution is an insult to our loved ones and an insult to God.
     ...because we have no right to continue breaking our parents' hearts, our spouses' hearts or our children's hearts.
     ...because if we don't, we have spent our entire lives doing nothing, contributing nothing, becoming nothing, and wasting natural resources, not to mention robbing taxpayers. No substance abuse program, medication or therapy session should ever be subsidized. Ever. Taking money from others for something we did to ourselves by our own selfishness and stupidity is a moral crime. Haven't we already stolen enough? Haven't we spent enough time being comforted by medication? Haven't we already done enough incessant blabbing about ourselves in therapy?  

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

Addicts Don't Understand Being Human 
Does Your Program Really Work?
Make It a Challenge
Courage or Cowardice?
Are You Free?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why Addicts Should Get Better...

     ...Besides, of course, never selfishly robbing the life, love, time, energy and money of our loved ones ever again?

     Some people think all I do is rail on addicts, but that's not quite accurate. I'm trying to push addicts (including myself) to get better so that we can give the world all we can possibly give. Many addicts and alcoholics are/were very bright, talented people. Some are intellectual or artistic geniuses. You wouldn't know it, of course, because instead of giving ourselves and our talents to the world, instead of being responsible, we chose to act like complete dumbasses, letting fear, selfishness and physical pleasure get the best of us. At any rate, below is an old post about why it's so important to get addicts better, so don't say that all I do is abrasively rip us to shreds, 'cause that's only like 99% of the time ;)

 *

GET AN ADDICT BETTER...
(From February 5th, 2013)

     ... and he or she can do incredible, amazing things.

      Like the teenaged kid I know who overdosed from shooting heroin and was pretty much dead until he was shot up with two loads of Narcan, took Steps, recovered, asked me for a ride to make amends to a sporting goods franchise he stole from, made a slew of other frightening amends, started multiple groups and ended up managing a sober house, all while sponsoring several others.

      Or the girl I know who took Steps, recovered, began speaking all over the place, sponsored countless other girls, and then went on to run a women's sober house while working another full time job. Just as strange is how happy, content and at peace she is. You would never know she was/is a drug addict.

     Or the other guys I know who took Steps, recovered, and then went on to open up multiple sober houses after sponsoring piles and piles of other guys, all the while starting groups, running other groups, and working intensively with individual family members and parents.

     [Or the relative of mine who recently gave himself wholeheartedly to this program, dedicated himself to his spiritual growth, recovered, and now he's getting a Masters of theology at the Harvard Divinity School.]

     Huh?

     Don't selfish, lazy, deranged, piece of shit drugs addicts get sober only to hold on by a thread, frantically running from meeting to meeting, chain smoking butts and nursing iced coffees all day long? Don't they retain most, if not all of their personality flaws, still acting like defensive, jaded, victims? Wait, I thought we were all pretty much toast once we become chronic, hopeless addicts.

     Nope.

     The truth is that many alcoholics and drug addicts are talented, ambitious, and potentially incredible people. Every drug addict who not only achieves physical sobriety but who recovers fully in his or her mind, heart and soul, can re-join the world and do amazing things. They can help countless others, or contribute in other untold ways. Recovered addicts can effect great change in this world simply because they are now glowing within and powered by the limitless strength and wisdom of GOD.

God, please help addicts who still suffer find their way to the Steps and to You...   

Monday, July 20, 2015

How Do We Get Young People Into God? - Part Two

     The other thing we can do to get young people into God is to help make it real for them. Many teens and adults alike have a problem with God because it has been reduced to a social construct, a detached belief system, or a simple academic concept. It's all intellectual. We are taught about God via sermon or in class on a chalkboard, but there is no real experience of God on the inside. So the idea is to teach kids and show them ways in which they can feel the power of God and expand His presence within.

     We need to show them how to pray and meditate, for instance - two actions that will lift them up and get things flowing. We need to present them with opportunities to speak publicly about their experience with addiction, and other opportunities to work one on one with others. Rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty ignites the power of God within. Through action, we feel lifted up and begin to have a real experience of God, not just some removed academic experience.

     If the force of God is harnessed through action and we feel that glow of warmth inside, we will know how worth it this path really is, but if there is no experience, no payoff from this spiritual journey, no young person is going to be interested. I remember working at a recovery high school years ago and taking a few kids outside during the after-school program and guiding them through a meditation. When we finished, opened our eyes and came to, they looked at me and said Holy Shit, I feel, like, high right now. No, I wasn't trying to get them high, but I was trying to give them a REAL tool they could use to change the space they were in, to change their inner experience.

     As opposed to sitting in church or listening to some addiction specialist blab on about triggers (that don't exist), young people need actual things to do, actual actions they can take to induce real spiritual experiences. We are a selfish clan and want to feel better, so if we can develop an arsenal of tools that help change the way we feel, as we begin to use these tools consistently, we begin to really evolve, get stronger, more balanced, calm and centered.

     Praying earnestly to oneself in one's own voice, meditating, speaking publicly, running a group or a meeting, taking others through the Step process, helping family and friends with some project, writing inventory, reading it, making a tough amends, exercising, hobbies, gardening, golf, having fun, you name it - the more action, the more we will change, the more we will actually feel God, and the closer to God we will get.

     Many of us don't really get close to God by reading about Him or having someone lecture us about Him. We draw closer to God by DOING THINGS THAT BRING US CLOSER.

See Knowing God vs Having God

How Do We Get Young People Into God?

From About the Meds...

 Comment:
 

"...if you treat what lies underneath the addiction, you address everything, you address ALL of our problems - you address our addiction, our mental illness, our chemical imbalance, and our life malady, as it were." What do you say regarding teenagers who are from a stable and loving family? My son may tell you that his underling issues were struggling in school with ADHD and being in the wrong sort of school (catholic for middle school 6-8) which caused him to become depressed. Recently he has said this is why he is the way that he is, but I see that as justification for bad choices and drinking and using pot. I feel as if right now he is adding more reasons to justify his using. So that in a few years he can add strained relationships with my parents to to the mix. I guess, I'm saying that right now he doesn't have many underlying issues. You commented to me before that he just hasn't suffered enough (but he actually has had some very messed up things happen in the past year). He is just using drugs and alcohol because he likes the way they make him feel. I'm so lost and heart broken. And I know things could get a lot worse and could be a lot worse.

Everyone has to find their own spirituality in their own way and time. Can you offer any advice on how a parent can encourage a teen to turn to God to be healed? I suppose, I have to keep praying for his heart and mind to open. Teenagers by their very nature are difficult and stubborn with little capability to look to the future - then add in the compulsion to abuse alcohol and drugs and it's a flippin' nightmare. I enjoy your blog and have learned a lot in the short time I have been reading it. Thank you for your reply on my last comment (POA post). We have quit giving our son money and taking away comforts. Your advise about using and abusing pot and alcohol needs to correlate with an uncomfortable life makes a lot of sense.

Sorry for the long post. Thank you for reading and for your prayers. 


Response:

Thank you, and I agree entirely with your assessment of his justification being absolute nonsense and simply an excuse, as there is no justification to use once we have lost control. Plenty of people have been through shit and don't mutate themselves into emaciated drug addicts or even dumbass potheads. But moreover, it is wrong to use anyway, regardless of what we've been through, and we give up the right to drink and use the second we lose control and the second we begin to hurt others.
 

That being said, the same two people can be thoroughly loved while one becomes a great success and the other becomes an addict. Conversely, the same two people can be thoroughly abused while one becomes an addict and the other becomes a great success. Family is irrelevant. Reasons are irrelevant. There are no reasons. None of the school stuff etc. has any relevance whatsoever as to why he uses in my belief, and I'm quite sure that deep down he also knows that is BS. He uses because he wants to use and he like to use, and he doesn't prefer they way he feels sober, which is simply called being human. We all suffer.
 

I do not believe there are any actual reasons that can be blamed for why we use. We are the only ones to blame. Saying all that stuff is just a way to justify and rationalize using the way we want to use. And if we can get you to feel bad for us, that we are a victim, it gets you off our back and nourishes or strokes our conscience while we simultaneously do the wrong thing. But we are not victims. I recommend that nobody believe such a thing about an addict or an alcoholic.
 

About God and young people, there are several things I might say, depending on who I'm working with. I might remind them that they've tried several things and failed, so clearly there is something wrong or missing in their approach. I might ask them, 'Why not try this? Go ahead and and prove me wrong... let's see what happens.' I might also remind the young person that while he or she can do all sorts of other things, when it comes to drugs and alcohol, they react abnormally, which means they obviously lack the power to control this particular part of their lives... so where are they to get the power if they do not have it?
 

Another way might be to tell them to forget all about the word God and the religious aspect of it and just simply dive into this program of right action and moral action and see what happens. We could also play a game and temporarily suspend our disbelief in God, jump in, and see if something hits us along the way.
 

And finally, sometimes I just point blank ask my sponsees, 'Who are you to say that God cannot get you better? You can't really prove it because you haven't tried yet, so go ahead and prove me wrong out of spite and maybe you get zapped along the way and then suddenly you just proved yourself wrong and then you can see how obstinate and wrong you were and I can call you a dumbass again.' ;-) 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Define Alcoholism, Addiction & Loss of Power

     Simply put, if you can't stop once you start and/or if you can't stay stopped when you stop, you are alcoholic or addicted.  

     The phenomenon of craving is responsible for not being able to stop when you start, whereas the mental obsession is responsible for not being able to stay stopped once you stop. Losing power does not refer to the physiology of addiction, but rather the loss of willpower, the loss of choice, the loss of our sanity. The 'mental obsession' is defined as recurring thoughts or ideas that do not respond to ration or reason.

     Our physical problem is quite different, in that the body of an addict reacts differently to drugs and alcohol than does the body of a normal person. The only way to stay sober for good is to regain our sanity, and then we can simply choose not to drink or use. But that does not mean our bodies ever change back into reacting like a non-addict, because they don't. Once the body of an addict is broken, it is broken for life, so sorry, using safely down the road or just smoking pot all day is not an option. There is no going from a hardcore, chronic addict to one who can safely and moderately use from time to time.

     And that is not to excuse us from drinking and using like a pig, which is a very fixable mental/spiritual problem, it's that the way we physically crave drugs and alcohol once they enter our system supersedes any desire to stop. For example, I loved drugs with every fiber in my being, whereas my wife hates being and feeling out of control. Let's face it, addicts and alcoholics are not victims of some evil force. We just love drugs and alcohol. They are the loves of our lives. I know it's hard, but it's true. Addicts love drugs.

     To note, now that I am recovered, I also hate being or feeling out of control. Anything sedative, anything that makes me feel weak sickens me now and makes me feel like a useless, lazy coward. So when I say recovered, I mean that we have come to repel drugs and alcohol like the plague. It means that I don't want to use anymore. I have no desire. It just left me. And if you want it to leave you, work hard. There is no easy or comfortable way out, and that is as it should be. There is no miracle drug for addiction. It is the 'addict mind' that must be crushed, so hanging out jammed on methadone and sucking down butts all day is not gonna cut it ;)

     Smart Recovery and certain doctors pump the message that addicts and alcoholics can use or drink moderately at some point, which is just insane, and trust me, if you take that advice, you will most likely wind up dead, and you don't want to do that to poor mom, do you?

     Also, what sort of attitude is that? Isn't it better for some entitled, rip-roaring alcoholic or addict to firmly believe he or she can never safely drink or use, whether it be the case or not? What are you missing out on, chugging vodka and speedballing into your aortic valve? Gee, bummer. What, there's nothing else to do in life? Trust me, having a more humble and less arrogant attitude about our limitations when it comes to drugs and alcohol is a good thing, but hey, if you think you can handle it, be my guest. Stay sober for a year and then go out there and see what happens. 

     Doctors and scientists don't get addiction because they only see it one way. In fact, they see everything only through the lens of science, which is ridiculous, especially if the science is crock science, and there is plenty of crock science out there. You would think that such a collection of highly educated people might be able to broaden their horizons, but for some reason, the more intellectual and prestigious we become, the more narrow, rigid and fundamental we also tend to become.

     The smartest people in the world are not walking encyclopedias. They have inner knowledge, they see things as they are and the world as it is. They listen to everyone and everything. They know themselves and therefore understand everything. They are smart enough to be open to things that have not or cannot be proven. They are smart enough to realize that we humans and our human minds are limited, that we have intellectual limits. They are smart enough to realize that there are forces we cannot see, hear or touch. Those who need proof of everything are incapable of opening their eyes. Sure they may be book smart, but they are simultaneously ineducable.

     The one thing science has donated is to confirm that the body of an addict clearly reacts abnormally. If you have this thing, at least if you are anything like me, you cannot get sober or even recover for years and years and then use moderately again. Addicts do experience craving differently than the average person.

     But the central problem with doctors and scientists is that they also see the solution to everything through the scientific lens. In other words, if there exists a scientific problem than the solution is also definitely scientific. It has to be. There is no other way. But when it comes to addiction, while you may be able to explain some physical changes scientifically, you must look outside of science for the solution.

     Why?

     For one, because our problem to begin with is NOT scientific. Unfortunately for everyone out there being misled by addiction specialists and family doctors who prescribe suboxone and methadone but don't know anything at all about addiction, there is no solution to be found in science, and in fact, there never will be, as our fundamental problem is not scientific.

     So to repeat, sure you can explain certain things about addiction scientifically, but those are just changes that occur from using or drinking repeatedly. If all you do is look at the side effects or symptoms, you are missing the point ENTIRELY. You are focused on some detail when the real problem is looking down on you going,

     Man, that guy's a dumbass! I'm up here!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Who Teaches Addicts If Sane People Don't?

     If you have a kid who is stuck behaving like a child or a spoiled brat, what do you do? You teach them, show them, and push them to grow up mentally, emotionally and socially - not just physically. If my 3-year old continues to whine about candy bars when he's a teenager with hair all over his body, let's face it, we got a problem.

    It is no different with an addict, and we can liken addicts to children who are refusing to grow up. You may think they're not capable of growing up, and perhaps some are not, but most of us are, so do not use the disease nonsense as an excuse for our childish and self-centered behavior or for our refusal to develop into mature adults and all that entails, such as taking care of oneself, working hard, reaching out to others, being available to our families, and taking responsibility for any habits we may have, especially when they've gotten out of hand.

     The contribution of social work to the problem of addiction is to let you all know that the addict already feels bad enough about themselves and doesn't need any more criticism. Wait a sec, uh, we feel bad about ourselves because we mutated ourselves into drug addicts. I don't think we should be excusing someone from the effects of something they did to themselves. What message does that send? That's like when the fed excused the banks by bailing them out after they gambled away your retirement, and guess what that accomplished? Nothing. They're right back at it, and the next downturn will make your head spin.

     Criticizing ourselves may be the one shred of clarity we have left. In my quiet moments when I was in the thick of it, I got down on my knees before getting into bed and asked forgiveness for what I was doing, for manipulating and betraying my wife and family. It was a brief moment of honesty in an otherwise sea of lies.

     We're also assuming that addicts feel bad about themselves, which is not necessarily true. Some of us simply went to have our wisdom teeth pulled and some idiot orthodontist gave us OC 20s to take home for the pain and whoops, what do you know, now we have a habit. Six months later, we have done nothing about our habit and we start buying dope instead. In another six months, we have spiraled into a full blown junkie. Done. Simple as that.

     We are cowards, and cowards, like children, who are scared of everything, need to be pushed out into the world of adult responsibility if they have any chance of surviving. You do not let some whiny, bratty child walk all over you and do whatever the hell they want. You need to teach them, discipline them and add some tough love to the mix, which is quite frankly the loving thing to do. Meeting a child where they are and coddling them when they are doing the wrong thing only validates, reinforces and perpetuates the behavior as well as his or her way of thinking.

     Ultimately, however, it is best for the adult child to assess and judge their behavior on their own. For addicts, this is what the Steps teach us. It's about being honest with oneself, and there is no better elixir than that. And besides, the sad truth is that you really can't do anything to stop an addict anyway. But trust me, doing nothing at all is much better than showering your addict with frothy emotional appeal and empty platitudes. 

     There is nothing wrong with tactful criticism. How do you think I got better? I got better when other addicts who used and felt the way I did and who are now recovered deconstructed the never-ending heap of bullshit that was sitting in my brain and perpetually coming out of my mouth. You can be loving and firm and wise all at the same time. An addict, remember, is lying to themselves 24/7 and needs to be jolted out of their delusion. They need to hear the truth about themselves, about addiction, about what they are doing and how it is affecting others.

     Criticism is just saying, man, you're a piece of shit! I've never advocated any such thing. I'll challenge you and your lack of courage by describing addiction and breaking down my experience, and then offering you a solution as well. Do you see? I'm not criticizing addicts, I'm trying to be honest with them just as someone was honest with me. Sure I'll choose to be more gentle at times depending on the person, but you can certainly be critical of an addict in a loving way. You can even be nice and critical at the same time.

     By the way, the sponsees I've been toughest on respect me the most. You have to ask yourself why that is...?

     So if we never hold addicts accountable, show them, teach them firmly, and then offer them a solution that really works, how are we ever going to see through the BS we have been feeding ourselves and everybody else ever since we first began to rationalize drinking alcohol and using drugs? Since addicts certainly cannot, if nobody ever teaches us that what we are doing is wrong, how are we ever going to get better? How are we going to even consider meaningful change?

     You have to remember that the addict's conscience has shriveled up like a prune and is virtually non-existent. Trust me, they are not going to just magically figure it out on their own. I would be dead in the ground right now if the boys up North never sat me down and shredded all of the ridiculous notions about my self and my addiction to bits.

     Being taught how to properly judge and criticize myself is the very thing that vanquished my addiction and saved my life. If someone can find me one shred of evidence that falsely empowering an addict and blowing smoke up his ass in therapy actually works, I'll happily retract, but it doesn't. I know it sounds good, but it doesn't work. Only through rigorous self-honesty and awareness do we find the courage to act.

Also see, Real vs False Self-Esteem

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Reality Check

     Trying to force your will on an addict or chase an addict around is an entirely fruitless endeavor...

     Nobody can change an addict or fix his or her broken mind. Most addicts need some sort of conversion, spiritual experience, or divine intervention to recover fully and for good. Beyond that, only we ourselves can act with courage day after day, taking rigorous, consistent action until we are changed people.

     And yes, we can change. Yes, our brains can change as well. We cannot hide behind the disease model to rationalize wreaking havoc, to avoid accountability, to justify being coddled and spoon-fed comfort meds, all of which keeps us weak and perpetuates our addiction and our mental frailties.

     I've said many times that the disease model as presently constructed is basically delusional. The truth is that your brain chemistry changes all day long. Eating changes your brain. So does meditation, prayer, exercise, sex, breathing, you name it. Addicts cannot stay sober because their minds are fucked. Fix your broken mind and stay sober forever. The problem is not physical, it is mental.

     I cured myself from depression by meditating twice a day for a year. I cured myself from addiction by inducing a spiritual experience via the actions of the Steps and then working my ass off year after year after year. Hard work isn't marketable, however, so treatment centers will continue to send your kids home totally fucked and let you know that relapse is part of recovery, so make sure to save some money for when they relapse and you need to send 'em back for another inflation-adjusted tune up ;)

     We fix our minds through action, which over time changes our attitude towards self, others and life itself. But no one can act for us or hold our hands. This is what current thinking on addiction is trying to profess, but it is wrong. No one can, nor should they try to think, speak, feel, or act for us. If you let other people or some pill make decisions for you, you will fail each and every time.

     Let's be clear on this though. It is only we who fail ourselves. If you blame somebody else, or some pharmaceutical company, or the system, or lack of funding, well, sorry but that is just clueless. Addicts are brightly glowing idiots who are devoid of any rational or coherent thoughts. If you have a brain that is as incompetent and as backwards as the contents of the US congress (both sides) and the white house, does anyone really think therapy sessions and psychotropics are going to teach us how to think properly, let alone act properly?

     Nope!

     Even if you wind up zombified on Methadone for a few years, you are just a coiled spring, waiting to explode. I've been beating a dead horse and now finally people are starting to get it and understand that the new-age scientific approach to addiction is just nonsense and keeps us sick. Only by repairing ourselves morally and working hard day after day for years and years do we addicts have any real chance of success.

     It is an internal rearrangement that needs to occur. Once you change, you are done with addiction. You just go on living life and make sure to maintain your spiritual fitness, so to speak.

     Of course, we addicts/alcoholics will be needing a practical solution, and this is what the rigorous and lifelong program of spiritual action of the Twelve Steps give us. Today, very few understand the original Step process and the mystical power behind it. Today people, usually pompous intellectuals, bash the Steps just as they bash anybody who is responsible, works hard, saves money, has faith or trusts God. It's sad that so many medical elitists fail to even understand the fundamental principle of powerlessness, which is but a temporary state, not one where we rest permanently. These are the first few lines from my new book, Anybody Can Take Steps:

     "Many people today falsely believe the notion of powerlessness to imply permanent defeat, but defeat is by no means where the Twelve Steps intend us to stay. In fact, the very purpose of understanding what we are powerless over is to regain power."

     Needless to say, addicts must first achieve total physical sobriety, meaning that you don't stay jammed out of your skull on Methadone, Suboxone, Seroquel, Clonidine, etc. You really have to get over all of that shit before anything real or lasting can be accomplished. Then we must become educated on the malady, which is generally non-existent in mainstream addiction treatment. Following that, we must write a thorough moral inventory of our entire lives, make every single one of our amends, be of service to other addicts and alcoholics, and do our best to be decent people in the world, especially to family, friends and colleagues.

     Don't worry, I'm not a complete asshole megalomaniac with some hero complex, preaching away on my soap box. I fail at this stuff all the time. But that's the deal, on paper anyway. Also, just to note, the tone of the new book is inclusive and universal. The potty mouth and aggression is really just what my blog has devolved into for some reason. Sorry, can't help it... although people seem to find it useful.

     P.S. Apparently the Charleston shooter was on Suboxone - oh wait, sorry, my bad... that's a miracle drug, right? Lol. As well, someone just sent me an article about how the APA quacks are now attempting to declassify pedophilia as a mental disorder and suggest that it is simply an 'orientation' and how pedophiles have rights too, blah, blah, blah. So this is what the industry of psychiatry has done to us: turned depressed kids into mass shooters, validated pedophilia as an 'orientation', and justified drug addiction as an organic need for opiates to satisfy our bio-chemistry, and thus opiate-seeking behavior is perfectly natural. Here, let me give you a script for opiates to treat your opiate addiction. What a bunch of clowns.