Saturday, January 30, 2016

Watered Down AA

WATERED DOWN AA

From The Privileged Addict, pp. 51-55 (Copyright, 2012):
 
     "The first order of business up North was to turn my previous exposure to Alcoholics Anonymous upside down and then knock it flat on its face. But in yet another failed effort would soon emerge great hope. For me, AA had been nothing but a meeting room where I sit in a chair, listen to sob stories, drink lukewarm instant coffee, depend on others to keep me sober, and maybe run up at the end to get a sobriety chip while people clap. Perhaps I even raise my hand and tell a story of my own. But stories, sobriety chips, and Maxwell House didn’t get me better. I didn’t need a social club. I have plenty of friends and let me tell you, they can’t keep me sober. I also didn’t need to reward myself with a thirty-day sobriety chip just because I stopped hurting people. What I needed was to change, and that doesn’t always involve feeling good or patting myself on the back.
     Before going on, let me just say that I mean no offense for my views on modern AA, but I would be doing readers a disservice by not honestly describing my personal experience.
     The first AA meeting I ever went to in Boston did little but fuel my desire to get plastered. How could I forget it? Sitting in my Fenway apartment one night, depressed from having to work with a mere six-pack, I began to flip through the small pamphlet advertising meeting times and locations for regional groups. I should have scrutinized the meeting symbols a bit more (OS = Open Speaker, CD = Closed Discussion, NS = Non-Smoking, M = Men, W = Women etc.).
     It was a cold and rainy night. Wind gusts ripped through Back Bay streets. At the time, this was a tremendous effort towards my recovery. I was so proud when I found the meeting and made my way up the stoop of the Arlington St. Church. Peering around for a quick scout, all I could see were men in leather. Heads turned, eyes glowing. Chairs were offered. I sat down and realized that I was smack dab in the middle of a Men’s Gay AA Meeting (M, G). A speaker on the verge of breakdown unloaded about his life, depression, bills, eviction, boyfriend, blah, blah, blah… I couldn’t deal anymore. I left and walked into the Pour House Grill a few blocks away for a vodka tonic and a round of Golden Tee Golf.
     Trying to avoid dismay, I walked into another meeting at the Berkeley School of Music - a Young Person’s Meeting (YP). Nothing useful. More stories. While sinking deeper into a funk, I spotted a blue book lying on the speaker table. No one referred to it. No one opened it. No mention of it at all. I asked the treasurer if I could have it and was charged five dollars, which had already gone to the Pour House bartender. They gave it to me anyway and it sat in my studio for the next two years serving as a coaster. If someone told me what was contained within that book, I wouldn’t have wasted another five years killing myself and hurting people. But that didn’t happen. Here’s what they told me.
     “Oh, you don’t need that shit. It’s just a bunch of stories. All you gotta' do is put the plug in the jug and just keep comin’.”
     Translation: keep holding on by a thread because no one here can actually help you.
     Young people are great, aren’t they? They get emotional and say things like, “Yeah, today was really tough. I almost didn’t make it. My selfish, asshole roommate pissed me off so much that I almost needed to drink, but I didn’t! I mean, my alcoholism isn’t even my fault; it’s my fuckin’ genes, man… It’s my Dad! I think I need anti-depressants.”
     There’s a guy I know from the north shore who goes to AA meetings all day, everyday. He’s one of those biker types, you know, with the bandana, leather black pants, tank top, and braided red hair down to his ass. He gets up at the end and says, “Meetings, meetings, meetings… Go to meetings until you’re blue in the face, and when you can’t take it anymore and you can’t sit through another meeting… go to a meeting. Meetings, meetings, meetings…” I hope this guy doesn’t have a family at home because going to meetings all day would, yup, take up the whole day. In my local groups, I learned that it was all about me. Up North, I learned that it was all about others.
     But I think the most baffling AA slogan is “Sit down, shut up, and wait for the miracle to happen.” Okay, so I’ve tried waiting and guess what happens? I go get high. Plus, miracles don’t zap me in the face while I’m sitting on my ass doing nothing. And why drag myself all the way to AA just to keep my mouth shut? I’m going nuts here. I’m the guy who needs to open his mouth to ask, “How do I get better?”
     I met staunch resistance in local AA groups. I dropped bombs all over the place once I’d been educated up North. Rarely was I called on to speak. And double dipping is especially frowned upon. After a downtown Beverly gathering, a seemingly docile young female speaker accosted me outside a meetinghouse known as the White Whale. Her once humble countenance deteriorated as her mouth opened.
     “What are you, a fuckin’ idiot? I didn’t call on you ‘cause the guys around here will beat the shit out of you for speaking twice!”
     Sounds like a tremendous way to recover.
     A day later at a Manchester gathering, I found the speaker-turned-stand-up-comic rather unamusing. It was more like amateur comedy hour than a forum about alcoholism, and I was the only guy not laughing. Returning from the cigarette break, I found my chair removed and facing backwards on a stage behind the speaker podium. Now that is one wildly effective way to help people recover!
     His few no-nonsense words, I remember clear as day.
     “God’s never done shit for me! God doesn’t keep me from drinkin’ like these stupid whackos who say God talks to them. No friggin’ Big Book keeps me sober either! I’m sober ‘cause I choose to stay sober.”
     Huh???
     I’m not sure that’s the kind of program I needed after fifteen years of chronic drug addiction. So I confronted him afterwards and here’s what he said.
     “Spiritual? Kid, you got it all wrong! You see, we have an alcohol problem. Not a moral problem, not a psychological problem, not a spiritual problem, no, no, no. We got ourselves a drinkin’ problem. See here boy, I still lie, cheat, call my wife a bitch, get into fights and what have you. I’m still an asshole, just a sober asshole!”
     Oh, now I get it. It’s finally clear to me. So I can thrash my wife, lie to people, steal money, maybe even sink into a depression, and it’s all good so long as I’m sober? Wait a second, then how do I stay clean without wanting to slit my wrists? If this is what twenty-five years of recovery looks like then someone please shoot me in the head.
     So all those posters on which the Twelve Steps hang look pretty, and the nice, big print is easy to read, but they’re not going to fix me just hanging there. I can’t finish them in my head during the meeting and by the time it’s over, boom! I’m done. I also can’t take a Step a year or wait a year before starting them. It’s not something that I read or study, but something that I do.
     Watered-down versions of the Twelve Steps are now mainstream in AA and in many treatment programs. But I’d be dead right now if I had approached recovery this way. I can’t wait a year to get better. I especially can’t wait a year to feel better.
     Know what does attract me? Being a free man. Being recovered. Having peace of mind and strength of spirit. Having the power to walk through my fear and pain. Having the hole inside me filled with Love. The misfits up North told me that I needed a Power other than myself to do that, and I saw this Power within them. I listened to them because they were filled to the brim with something that actually fixes broken minds and hearts." - The Privileged Addict, pp. 51-55

Maximum Usefulness

      "Why do we take Steps? Sure we embark on this journey to 'grow along spiritual lines' and find some peace, but the larger purpose behind all previous 11 Steps is to equip us properly to go help others. We have dug deep and peeled back the layers of emotional pain and psychic damage. We have cleaned up our past, gained confidence and stand firm as we can now look the world in the eye. We have humbled ourselves and let go of our need to force our will on everything and everyone. Instead, we have learned to pray, meditate, get quiet and listen to the will of God. We are now in the position to be of maximum usefulness to others who suffer as we did.
     Service is the silver bullet of getting better. When in doubt, go help others. There are times when we suffer no matter how hard we try to change the inner landscape, when the feelings get heavy and become suffocating, when the thoughts and worries come fast and hard. Sometimes our daily repertoire of tools, while useful in keeping us sane, fail to do very much about the way we feel. That is when we go help someone. It is the strongest medicine in the cabinet and it works every time." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 12

Don't Make War with Yourself

      "To note, sure we all want to feel better and it’s fine to use meditation to do so, but its real purpose is to allow whatever arises to come into your mind or consciousness and move through you. In other words, when we stop and breathe, the stuff that comes up is part of us and therefore has a right to come up. It needs to come up. Though we may at first find it very uncomfortable or painful, if we continue to let our thoughts and feelings exist without fighting them and judging ourselves so much, we eventually come to accept it all, light or dark. As well, the painful stuff loses its power and moves through us without getting stuck. Some of it may stop coming altogether. What you resist will persist, so do yourself a favor and allow what’s inside of you to not only exist, but to move freely. Befriend what you own, for even the dark and painful stuff deserves respect. It deserves to be heard, accepted and loved. Making war with any part of our selves just makes things worse." - Anybody Can Take Steps. Chp. 11

Do What You Fear

      "Contrary to popular belief, the best way to conquer our fears is not to avoid them, but instead recognize that they exist within us, that they are part of us, and then walk right into them and through them. In other words, DO what you fear and what you fear will gradually lose its power. Some people fear public speaking to the point of panic. Our heart rate goes up, it palpitates, we can’t breathe… but here’s the thing: Often these symptoms only precede the actual event. Most of our symptoms are caused by anticipatory fear - fear we create ourselves by thinking and worrying about the event. Once we open our mouths and begin talking, in many cases the fear goes away and we think to ourselves, 'What was I so afraid of? That wasn’t so bad.'" - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 10

Friday, January 29, 2016

Distant Concept or Actual Experience?

      "God can either be a distant concept or an actual experience, and it is through right action that we make that shift and close the gap. Many teens and adults alike have a problem with God because it has been reduced to a social construct - a detached belief system or simple academic concept. God has become intellectual. We are taught about the divine via sermon or in class on a chalkboard, but there is no real experience on the inside. So the idea behind enlarging our spiritual lives through action is to show people ways in which they can actually feel the power of God and expand His presence within. If spiritual power is harnessed through meditation, prayer, public speaking or service and we feel that glow of warmth inside, we will know how worth it this path really is, but if there is no detectable payoff from this journey, who is going to be interested?" - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 9

Alcoholics Should Never Apologize

     "So when we go to make the amends, there are a few general rules to remember. #1: DON’T APOLOGIZE. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Nonetheless, we don’t say sorry to those we have harmed because it no longer carries any weight, at least for addicts and alcoholics. We’ve said sorry so many times only to repeat the same destructive behaviors, and that is no sorry at all. We never want to play with our loved ones and pull them in both directions, which is quite frankly more harmful than consistently being a jerk. Why? Because it is manipulative. If we are always a jerk, at least the person knows what to expect and can easily choose to leave. But the alcoholic or addict is a true Jekyll and Hyde, as the Big Book notes, and charms people they have hurt back into their lives, only to be hurt once again. Manipulating our loved ones emotionally is one of the worst kinds of abuse, so nobody wants to hear that we’re sorry, especially those closest to us." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 9  

Is There a Moral Dilemma to Certain Amends?

     "Amends to banks or stores that we stole from can be especially confusing for parents or spouses. Let’s say an addict robbed a bank and got away with it. Making the amends might land him in jail, thereby robbing him from his family and his duties to them. How would that be unselfish when our families need us now more than ever? Wouldn’t that cause more harm than good? But what if we have to make the amends to achieve sanity? What if we will drink or use drugs again if we don’t go through with it? We may have to make the amends to fully recover and remove our obsession. In this case, we must ask ourselves how important our sobriety and our spiritual growth is. Are we going to put our recovery and God before EVERYTHING else, even our families? If so, we have to go make it, regardless of the selfish consequences that may ensue. Perhaps we can use this formula to decipher other moral dilemmas we face throughout life. Try putting your spiritual growth and God before all else and then make your assessment. Ultimately, we have to do what we need to do to be okay." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 9

No Amends Is Too Small

      "Some of us will think we do not owe any amends, that we were not addicts or alcoholics and have never harmed anyone or committed a wrong, and while I suppose that could be true, I seriously doubt it. Others may think, ‘Well yeah, I stole a few apples one day from the store, but that’s really not so bad’. Sure it may not start World War III, but it is still wrong. Someone worked to grow those apples and someone else paid for them so they could be offered to you. You therefore owe the storeowner and the farmer who grew them an amends. No, you don’t need to go hunt down the farmer, but you do need to walk into that store and be accountable for stealing, and then offer to pay the storeowner back for his or her losses." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 8

All Spiritual Experiences are Unique

     "I debated whether or not to share my own 7th Step experience because I didn't want to set anybody up with expectations. The truth is that we all have a unique, personal experience taking Steps, so try to simply go through this process without thinking about it too much or expecting any particular thing to happen. Some of us will experience the wash of a great calm. Some of us will feel as if a tremendous weight has been lifted off of our shoulders. Others will just continue this process and slowly change over time. A gradual change may even make us stronger in the long run, so try not to worry about it or judge it too much. We just have to keep moving forward and getting stronger, knowing that with each right action we draw closer to God. I share my personal experience here to simply provide hope, that it might inspire just one more soul to embark on this spiritual path and become equipped and willing to go help others." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 7

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Meditation Is Absolutely Crucial

      "Sitting quietly without distraction and breathing is an incredibly powerful tool, one that few may realize the true benefits of. Meditating brings us back into the present moment and elevates awareness, leading to greater clarity and acceptance. Even if our minds wander off into the future or the past, we can simply let the thoughts come and let the thoughts go. There is no need to hold on anymore. Thoughts and feelings don’t have to stop us dead in our tracks. They do not have to control our lives. As we move forward, consistent meditation will gradually re-align us, harmonizing the mind and body by allowing us to accept our existence and what is happening around us. The simple practice of breathing quietly and remaining still can literally alter your brain chemistry, balancing levels of crucial neurotransmitters that make us feel calm, grounded, balanced and whole. There is now a plethora of scientific evidence that reveals such positive changes to our brain due to meditation and mindfulness.
     I’ll share with you a more structured meditation that I learned while in treatment up North. It is easy and can have a marked effect in a short amount of time. This might be good for certain people who are not only very busy but have a difficult time sitting still..." - Anybody Can Take Step, Chp. 6

With Inventory, 99% = Zero

     "When we are ready, we quietly go to read. Whether it is our sponsor, pastor or trusted friend, the important thing is to read to a person whom we trust and who is honest, someone who understands this “life-and-death errand” we are on, as the Big Book succinctly describes. Some of us may not have a large enough chunk of time to finish our entire inventory. Let’s face it, we have jobs, families, relationships and a myriad of other duties. In that case, we can simply read a portion of our inventory and then schedule another time to finish.
    This may be your greatest chance to induce a spiritual experience and free yourself from the chains that bind you, so please, read it all. Everything. Leave no dark secret or rock unturned, as the fate of your very soul may be at stake. Even if it is excruciating, embarrassing or perhaps even criminal, confess it all or else… All that has been buried must see the light of day." -Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 5

Self-Seeking in Our Resentment

     "Self-seeking is, of course, seeking a self, so in trying to discover our self-seeking, we can ask ourselves: How were we trying to look or be seen by others and/or by ourselves? The caveat is that generally the way we want to be seen is NOT the way we truly are. So if I want to be seen as a tough guy, the truth is that I’m probably a coward.
     Critics of this process assert that we are engaging in self-deprecation and blame, but that is not true. It is human nature to be self-seeking, to care about how we look and how we are seen by others. Discovering and admitting this aspect of past events is simply an exercise in honesty, and the clarity we achieve helps vanquish resentment. It’s not necessarily wrong or evil to be self-seeking, but left unchecked, it will contort the way we see things, and when it gets out of control, we become lost in image and self-absorption. Believing that others see us, for example, as beautiful or brilliant or tough or invincible convinces us that we are somehow special and unique from the rest of the human race, and needless to say, that is not a healthy place to be." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 4

Resent Your Spouse? Write Inventory!

      "Next to Mom and/or Dad, spouses usually come next on our list, and why not? Intimate relationships can be a hot, sticky mess, especially down the road when we have children and are left with little or no time at all to nourish ourselves or pursue our hobbies and passions. As we temporarily lose ourselves, our most challenging parts begin to surface and when the going gets rough, we are faced with the question of whether we truly accept these parts in each other and if we truly love the person we are with. Matters of the heart are complicated and confusing, and the dynamics are easily misunderstood. We often resent our spouses because 1) we know them so well, as they do us, and 2) we have expectations of them. When we cannot reconcile their respective flaws or quirks with what we want from them, we cop resentments at will. I used to resent my wife simply for suffering. How ridiculous and deranged is that? Very much indeed, but I came to see that my experience wasn’t so novel, that many of us resent others just for suffering, and sometimes just for existing.
     So why did I resent my wife for suffering? Because it took me out of my comfort zone. As well, I didn’t get the attention I wanted. I would do things for her and expect her to notice me and thank me. I resented her because I expected a certain reaction or result. I expected her to be happy and present, or at least not to suffer so much and bring me down with her. Can you believe it? It is quite unloving not to let the person we supposedly love suffer. Why am I unable to comfort her by showing some patience and compassion? By writing inventory, I found answers, and I came to understand that it wasn’t about me at all.    
     Relationships will get quite ugly and confusing if we develop resentments based on false assumptions and then leave them unattended. This is how we lose respect for one another and eventually stop loving them. This is how we start bringing out the worst in each other instead of the best. This is how relationships end. It is not because of our failure to work on the relationship, but our failure to work on ourselves. If we want to save our relationships, we don’t go to couples therapy to “work out” the superficial annoyances we have with each other. These are but reflections of underlying individual problems, so to heal a relationship, we must work on ourselves individually and as a result of individual change, the relationship heals. This is why couples therapy is often such a disaster and accomplishes little or nothing at all. The health of the relationship is a direct reflection of our inner health, and thus changing ourselves is the best chance we have to change the world around us. Trying to change the other person is fruitless and will only lead to defensiveness, divisiveness and more resentment.
     Along with our spouses, we often make false assumptions with much of the world around us. The guy who cuts you off on the road might have been rushing to the hospital for some emergency, as opposed to purposely trying to annoy you and be a jerk. We personalize the actions of others when they have nothing to do with us. We do this because it helps us to avoid taking responsibility for our feelings and reactions. “Well, if someone did that to you, you’d get angry, too…” is a typical response to justifying and rationalizing road rage, but that is not so true. Plenty of people don’t flip out when someone cuts them off. Why? Because they’re okay inside.
*
     So we have a lot of work to do. We have to write resentment, fear and sex inventory. If possible, try to write it out by hand, so go get a fresh notebook and some pens. Let’s begin with resentment inventory. Following this breakdown, there are several diagrams filled with examples.
     The first set of instructions is to make a list of..." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 4

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why so Stubborn about a 2nd Step?

     "The fact is there are many things far greater and more powerful than we humans. Exhibit A = Mother Nature. No one can deny we stand at the mercy of the forces of nature. Our very existence lies in the delicate balance of our solar system and atmospheric conditions. We think and believe we are safe because we have always been, but nobody really knows what might happen. Are not our very lives at the mercy of nature and her powerful storms, tornados, tsunamis, wildfires or sudden lightening strikes? Or how about the simple yet inescapable cycles of nature, such as night and day, life and death, or the fluctuating output of the sun’s energy? The point is that it is really not so hard to admit a host of forces and phenomena that are more powerful than we are, so why is God so difficult?
     One reason is because science has been able to explain the workings or dynamics of many such physical forces, but not so much with God. But are there not several tangible things that we cannot fully explain as well? I know, for instance, that our Universe exists but certainly cannot explain why it exists, how it came to be, what existed before, what lies beyond, or how dark matter can literally bend time and space. People say that nothing existed before the Universe but what is nothing and what are nothing’s boundaries? I also know that cells divide and that our physical bodies involuntarily heal themselves upon injury, just as nature rebuilds itself, but I can’t explain how or why that happens, at least not without Divine Intelligence. I know that we humans are more than the sum of our parts but who can explain or even describe with any justice this intangible part of ourselves that makes us who we are, that drives us to create, and that allows us to glow with love and spirit. Think for a moment about the miracle of life and the sheer beauty of the natural world, let alone the mind-blowing immensity of the Universe. Sure science has been able to explain some of this, but isn’t science really just explaining an endless pile of miracles? Doesn’t science only prove the existence of God by showing us how amazing it all is?
     One of the simplest ways we can challenge our human conceit and the illusion of power is by asking ourselves but one simple question, and I take this right from the Big Book, page 56. “Who are you to say there is no God?” Fine, I may not be able to prove God exists but you cannot prove that He doesn’t. Why do we humans presume to know the secrets of life and the mystery of all existence? Seems like we might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves, does it not?" - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 2

Obey Your Conscience

     "By diligently obeying our conscience, we nourish it like a tree. Soon it becomes rooted and grows taller. The roots spread, its foundation becomes more secure and the wind cannot blow it over. Our tree grows fuller and more beautiful as the light inside of us shines brighter. Following our conscience is the way to recovery, as it heals the soul of a person. With each right action, we draw closer to God." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 3

Why Force Your Will?

      "Turning our will over to God also means that we don’t rush around forcing our will, trying to control everything and everyone. Sure we continue to get up, go to work and do what we can, but we let go of the outcome and how that will look. As human beings, we often feel as though we must manipulate the world around us. If something veers even slightly off course to the way we envisioned it, we hurl ourselves in, aggressively trying to steer the ship in the direction we see fit. In trying to force certain outcomes, we amass countless expectations, expectations that are never quite met to our standards, thus ensuring we suffer constant disappointment. Turning our will over to God means that we stop trying to dictate what is happening, both inside and out. If things happen the way we want, great, but if they don’t, also great. We accept the outcome. We stay in the moment and leave the rest to God." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 3

The Deliberate vs Random Obsession

      "Dr. William D. Silkworth, once the leading physician treating alcohol addiction at the old Charles B. Towns hospital in Manhattan, wrote to Alcoholics Anonymous that the alcoholic suffers from an “allergy” to alcohol. That is, we acquire an allergy by drinking too much and crossing over some threshold. But we are not talking about your typical allergy. Instead of breaking out into hives or going into anaphylactic shock, instead of some physical repulsion or rejection of the toxic substance, we break out into ease and comfort. We break out into more. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), this abnormal physical response to drugs and alcohol, once acquired, is permanent.
     While that may sound hopeless, it is not, because all any addict or alcoholic needs to do is to restore willpower, supplemented by a life of spiritual growth, and he or she can then choose never to drink or use again. Thus, the real defeat is what happens to addicts mentally. When the thought to drink or use drugs crosses our minds, we go temporarily insane, obsessing about it until the alcohol or drug hits our bloodstream. The obsession itself is actually the point of relapse, as nothing human can bring most of us back once the thought has entered and the choice has been made. The notion of just calling our sponsor for help when we’re teetering on the edge outside of a bar is but an empty platitude, as we have already begun drinking.
     We have essentially broken a part of our minds that is responsible for thinking rationally and reasonably when it comes to mood-altering substances, as if a chip has gone missing. Our internal conversations become distorted as we begin to think that our problem isn’t so bad, that we can handle it this time and use moderately, that we’re not going to hurt anybody… so why not? Our memory of events also becomes distorted as we downplay the falling down nightmare we were the last time we went out. Perhaps we don’t have any internal conversation at all as we experience total memory loss, having no awareness of our problem or the consequences of what we’ve done in the past – the car accidents, the arrests, the lying, the abuse, the heartache. A mind that will suddenly draw a blank like that is a mind that has surely gone insane.
     This is what happens to addicts and alcoholics, and the Big Book refers to it as the “mental obsession”, but we must also distinguish between the ‘deliberate obsession’ and the ‘random obsession’. The deliberate obsession is when we concoct some reason why we are justified to go out and drink or use drugs, why we have the right to ply ourselves endlessly. We see ourselves as victims, that because our lives are so tough, our jobs so awful, our town so boring, our parents so horrible, and because nobody understands how we feel, we are justified and therefore excused to drink or use. We are convinced that our pain is somehow different from the rest of the human race and that if others had our struggles or felt the way we did, they would surely be drinking and using drugs too.
     While all that may seem ridiculous, the real mystery and crux of our problem lies in the random obsession. The random obsession is when thoughts to use or drink come for no reason at all. They are not deliberate or driven by some negative event, thought or emotion. Even worse, sometimes there is no preceding thought whatsoever. We will simply walk into someone’s bathroom and see some pills when suddenly our arm reflexively reaches out to grab them. This randomly occurring obsession is the very lunacy that defines an addict or an alcoholic, and it is what many non-addicts cannot understand.   
     Moreover, until the addict has been restored to sanity, there is no hope for long-term sobriety. The addict is essentially walking around subject to go insane and relapse at any point in time and for no apparent reason. People who study addiction, as well as our loved ones, will often try to dig in and find all sorts of reasons why we drink or use, but you have to remember that addicts love drugs and alcoholics love alcohol, and at some point, it simply becomes a reflex.
      To be sure, this is a very sad and hopeless state of affairs. Simply achieving sobriety, attending groups, having a little therapy or taking a substitution drug is rarely, if ever, powerful enough to fix this insanity. Hopeless types eventually find that they cannot remove this obsession without spiritual help. Let’s face it, it’s hard to go from insane to sane on our own, and sometimes we must call on something much Greater, something beyond the scope of human faculty and man-made remedies. Sometimes the solution is not of this world, as worldly tools are often incapable of removing this unique, deceptive and pathological form of insanity.
     So how then do we re-insert power back into our being? Well, that’s precisely what the Steps were made to do – give us our power back. By giving ourselves wholeheartedly to this process, something begins to crack open, as if entering a new dimension, and we are suddenly given access to God or Power. Once that happens and the telephone line is set up, so to speak, we can tap into this source anytime we want, and once that happens, anything is possible. For now, however, let us first dig into some other things we are susceptible to losing power over, such as depression." - Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 1

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Follow Up to Hari - Moral Aspect & Stigma Bullshit

The Moral Aspect

     The problem with making assumptions or drawing conclusions by simply observing something is that you have still have no actual experience of what you're observing, so here is the truth instead. And the truth is important when we talk about addiction, given how lethal it is for us and how gut-wrenching it is for those who love us. 

     There are many false assumptions about the moral aspect of addiction, and in fact, if you wanna bitch about stigmatizing things, then stop stigmatizing morality as well. The blind, kumbaya-humming crowd believe addiction is not a moral failure because addicts cannot control their drinking and using. First of all, how do you think they lost control to begin with? To go from a normal sober person to an addict with no control, I'm pretty sure you gotta use a few times first.

     When I first smoked weed or first ate an OxyContin or first cut up a line of heroin and sniffed it up, I KNEW IT WAS THE WRONG THING TO DO. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows it's wrong to use drugs. Let's get our heads out of the sand, shall we? Of course, now you have people saying that morality is relative and doesn't (shouldn't) exist. Wait a second, let's back up. How do we know if something is wrong? Because it hurts self and others. Settled.

     So if using drugs hurts self and others and the person hasn't lost control yet, it is clearly wrong to be using drugs. And guess what? It's still wrong after we lose control, as we have simply lost control of doing the wrong thing. Get it? It still hurts others regardless of whether we have control or not. Losing control doesn't suddenly change something that is wrong to something that is not wrong. Plus, the act of using enough drugs to go from 'in control' to 'out of control' is a voluntary act. Losing control is the result of multiple wrong acts. That is a moral failure. Case closed.

     But then you also have this assertion that plenty of people lose control from some painkiller they were prescribed and are therefore not engaging in any such moral failure, nor are they exhibiting any such character flaws (Oh get thee back you evil term 'character defect' - so evil and stigmatizing!). Sure, any non-addict taking pills AS PRESCRIBED for legitimate pain is not committing a wrong. However, everything changes as soon as either a) we start taking more than the prescribed dose, b) we continue eating the pills long after the pain is gone, or c) we lose control over the course of our regimen and then continue getting high by getting more pills, buying drugs elsewhere, or changing drugs.

     (By the way, this 'allergy' we speak of crosses ALL lines, by the way. Alcoholic = addict. It's just one allergy to any and all mood-altering substances, so those AA guys who tell addicts or potheads to get out of AA are imbeciles. They are actively preventing people from getting better).

     To continue with the previous situation, it is also wrong if we are aware of a pre-existing drug problem (i.e. we know we are addicts) and allow the doctor to prescribe us a bottle of painkillers because we had a single wisdom tooth pulled. That is dishonest and we are actively doing the wrong thing because we know that once we start, we have no control. Plus we are wimps. Pain is good for addicts. The more pain and the more humility, the better. Same for narcissists, sociopaths, and, yes, people wallowing in depression. I know that will appall some readers but all three do share many of the same criteria - lack of feeling, lack of empathy, disturbed relationships, edginess, image problems, self-hatred, pathological focus on self...

     At any rate, sure it isn't wrong to inadvertently or cluelessly become dependent while simply taking prescribed painkillers 'as prescribed', but again, once we lose control we no longer have the right to continue using. No matter how you slice it, using drugs is wrong and it is most certainly a moral failure - whether you still have control or not. Losing power doesn't suddenly change the act of using from wrong to not wrong. Why? Because the effect is still very much the same: Harm to self and those who love us. Furthermore, we also maintain the responsibility to regain our power, once lost.

     By the way, I am re-printing The Privileged Addict so it reads easier. The line and paragraph spacing is closer, as well as a few other minor changes, so that should help some readers who were annoyed at the original layout.

Comments/Responses from original Hari post: 

Comment:
You're right. Hari's wrong. I was so offended by his ignorant nonsense that I haven't listened to a TED talk since I heard it, but I'm still reading your posts regularly. I'll be getting your second book, too.

Response:
Totally agree. Tons of people have asserted this for years and years and years, so it is nothing novel as he implies. More importantly, it has very little or nothing at all to do with addiction, whether fueling, maintaining, preventing or removing it. Thanks so much for reading.

Comment:
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this talk. This is really, really good stuff. Especially for parents and partners. I think I'm going to come back and reread this post many times, as there are so many good things to remember in it. Thanks again.

Response:
Hey thank you, and my pleasure entirely.

I remember a while ago some clinician posted a comment that what I was doing was extremely destructive. Lol. The piece he couldn't stand was about the failure of various conventional treatment methods, such as trigger identification / relapse prevention and so forth. He said that writing down (invented) triggers (and then trying to avoid them) "works for most people".
I wrote back suggesting he go talk to some moms. I don't know if he ever did, but if so, he would have very soon realized the bitter failure of such methods, which do less than nothing to fix or even address what ails the addict, let alone remove his condition of insanity.

At any rate, Hari's "connection" idea, which by the way is mainstream (so I don't understand the title of the talk/article) is the same type of thing, where we try to attribute addiction to something external and/or sentimental. Nonsense.


*Note: I may do several of these follows ups to address many of the false mainstream ideas that we find confusing as they just don't pass the 'gut test', as it were.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The "Experts" Have It Backwards

     Year ago, I had a sponsee who I used to rip into with great consistency, as someone lovingly did for me years before that. Yes, lovingly. He and many other guys I used to rip apart knew that I loved them, that they could trust me, and that I wasn't delivering judgment as we think of it - in some asshole tone of voice and/or while choking them in a headlock. They respected me because they finally met someone who could see through the miles of bullshit (which could have been any recovered addict), and who was willing to be honest with them about it.


     Anyway, I remember saying something like, "Hey dude, listen, sorry if that sounds harsh and..." when he quickly interrupted me saying, "No, no, I love it. It's good for me. It's just what I need. Keep it comin'." I kid you not. And he meant it. He loved being judged, but (and here's the caveat) by a recovered addict he trusted and liked as opposed to a parent or spouse or some clueless doctor or shrink.Why? Because he knew that I used and felt and thought the way he did and he knew that I knew that everything coming out of his mouth was bullshit.

      Any addict who is serious about his recovery, who is excited and passionate to grow spiritually and change, wants to be judged properly (tactfully and unemotionally), and other recovered addicts are perhaps the only ones in an appropriate position to accurately judge them. Doctors, specialists and shrinks generally have no clue what they are talking about and therefore make little sense to the addict. They can try all you want, but sorry, most addicts will only listen to other addicts who have gotten better and therefore have something that they want. Do you see?

     If you say, "No charlie, you are wrong! My addict wails and moans in deep, soul-crushing pain. They cry  'don't judge me! I need to be loved, not judged! I need to be accepted for exactly who I am!'" Um, trust me, the only addicts saying that are addicts who still want to use. Addicts who whine about external things, who tell you to love them and meet them where they are because 'relapse is part of my recovery', well, they are fully committed to continuing to use. Addicts who talk that way have no real intention of actually changing, let alone staying sober for any length of time.

     We don't need hugs and kisses and compassion and kindness and mind-altering psychotropics and substitution drugs nearly as much as you think. And by the way, none of that is a novel approach. We have always tried this nonsense. Nobody can get the addict better, and no pill can fix an addict, let alone stop him from using. The term 'miracle drug' is an oxymoron, as miracles only occur in the absence of drugs. That much seems obvious, but hey, I guess people will believe what they want to believe.

     Personally, I don't need or want any of that shit. I only wanted it when I was very ill, when I wanted to get jammed and live for habitual comfort. You see, we're not nearly as pathetic and disabled and diseased as we have led you to believe, and now everybody, including the medical establishment, has taken the bait and defined us as permanently incapable, when the truth is that addicts who don't get better simply don't want to get better.

     The sad truth is that addicts refuse to lift a finger to even support their own habits. Nowadays, they are almost annoyed when they don't get free stuff. They feel completely entitled to free methadone, free food, free rent, free everything. The dependency state has spilled over into addiction, as we now approve services for potheads who like to steal mommy's Percocets when they feel a little depressed after running out of pot. By the way, how do people think this stuff paid for? Trust me, you would fall right out right out of your chair while barfing uncontrollably like the girl in the Exorcist if you knew where your taxes were going. 

More Disease Model Delusions

     We have now gone so far with the progressive disease model that we are now attempting to justify just giving junkies opiates, that opiates are not what they want but what they truly NEED. Right, just placate and give them whatever the they want, which effectively enslaves them, especially as we begin to socially and scientifically reinforce this insane idea that remaining chained to drugs is perfectly natural.

     Unfortunately, the physiology of addiction doesn't account for, well, everything else. While this will continue to be a bummer for those looking for an easy way out, it will come as great news to the pharmaceutical model - i.e. massive profits.  

      According to Wikipedia, the disease model of addiction "describes an addiction as a disease with biological, neurological, genetic, and environmental sources of origin." Lol, um, behavioral? Did I miss something? So wait, genes and environment come before, say, loving to drink and use and then continuing to drink and use like an absolute pig until you break your f'ing body and mutate yourself into a junkbox? Sorry to be a dick, but what sort of message does that send? You have now removed any incentive, urgency or necessity for the addict to engage in hard work, right action and personal change. You have also blinded them from the knowledge that he or she must have the power of God come to them and restore them to sanity. There is no hope for any serious addict who isn't all lit up with Spirit, who hasn't become God-conscious.

straight still scream   But hey, don't worry because now your addict can rest easy, knowing that he was afflicted from birth with an involuntary disease and that he can do nothing to stop his drinking, using, lying, stealing and calling you a fucking bitch. He will be relapsing (not to mention whining about his injustice) unimpeded and guilt-free, all through life... so fuck you mom, fuck you dad, fuck you everybody. Great stuff. Oh, and according to all of the experts (and many others like the dude from the TED Talk), it's also environmental, so if you were a good parent, think twice. Yup, that's right. There are plenty of whackjobs out there who will have you believe that you suck, that you must have fucked them up somehow. Well, listen up, that is all BULLSHIT. We make ourselves addicts and we owe you everything in this world. Never blame yourself or your genes for our addiction. Never. ALL external reasons are 100% FALSE.

     Sorry, but the masses are being lied to (and not just about addiction but a host of other major issues currently facing us today). But if they are going to call addiction a disease and give addicts a label by which we can handily excuse our atrocious behavior, they could at least tell the truth.

     If you want to call addiction a disease, than you must be sure to separate it from other diseases beyond one's control, such as juvenile leukemia etc. Addiction is a disease that we give to ourselves, and it is also a disease that we can choose to keep in remission should we work to remove the mental obsession and find the guts to walk through some pain, face adult life and obey our conscience. Once an addict reacquires the power of choice, relapsing is very much a choice, obviously. At that point, relapse is nothing more than a personal and moral failure. Sorry, but that's a fact. And no, I am no shining example of anything. If it sounds like I'm "preaching from a spiritual hilltop" as some troll posted last week, well, not to worry. I'm a piece of shit, too. And while I try to engage in service when I can, I often find myself not really caring or feeling too much for others. Who knows, maybe we'll always just be fucked on some level.

     At any rate, the disease aspect begins and ends with the simple physical problem of using abnormally - that we physically respond to drugs and alcohol differently than others. It simply means we experience the phenomenon of craving once we start drinking or using.

     My fellow addicts our there can call me a dick. I don't care. Why would I? We are really just comfort-obsessed children who demand that our very special, unique and important feelings and needs and sensitivities MUST BE MET. It's always the addicts who get prickly, though I've had a couple of anonymous parents lose it on me as well, even though I have nothing to do with anybody's pain.

     But hey, to the addicts who troll me and whine about shit, 1) It's not about you, it's about the people in our lives. Get over it! 2) I would be happy to stop doing this if the hundreds and hundreds of people who have emailed me to thank me profusely would also stop, and 3) At least I'm trying, what are YOU doing? Anything???

This Makes No Sense

     Let me explain why I continuously try to dismantle the therapeutic model when it comes to treating drug addicts and alcoholics. When I worked for a publicly funded recovery school (i.e. theft), the directive was to empower the addicts by submitting success reports concocted out of thin air. In other words, the model was to validate each and every feeling, thought and action - redefine relapsing as not relapsing, excuse terrible school work, take them on vacations and essentially hand out free diplomas. As you can imagine, that's not really my thing. If anyone should have to work for something and learn the value of personal responsibility and right action, it is most certainly the entitled, drug using, cognitively undeveloped, teenage ingrate.

 
Every kid gets a trophy? No. No, no, no, no... no.

     On the other hand, I tried to stress the idea that addiction has much to do with current construction of self (including attitude and frame of mind), and I tried to expose the kids to the spiritual/moral solution. It was something they could believe in and take part in, and doing the right thing made them feel good about themselves. Needless to say, I was handily disposed of.

Lesson #1: Nothing is your fault. Lesson #2: Relapse is part of recovery. Lesson #3: Have you taken your Seroquel today? Lesson #4: Try not to ask your friend to borrow his piss for the piss test today, but if you do, no worries. We love you. You're great. Here, have some Skittles.

  
     Perhaps you have deduced the point I'm making. The last person on Earth you want to coddle, falsely empower, and give free everything to is the easy street drug addict or alcoholic who has put every effort into making life easier and more comfortable for him or herself, and all at the expense of others.

     Why would you empower the addict when his current mindset is so harmful and demented? That is the LAST thing you want to do. Addicts need to know that life is not about feeling good 24/7 and that they will have to work hard to secure their place in the world and to maintain healthy relationships. The self of an addict must be thoroughly dismantled when they achieve sobriety and embark on the journey of true life recovery.

     If you are paying (or if you're robbing taxpayers) for a therapist or social worker to say...
 
     "Hey pal, I understand why you did all those things... it's because you have a disease. I understand why you robbed your parents and called your mom a fucking bitch.
[OR] I totally get why you abuse your wife and neglect your children and manipulate everybody. Anybody in your position would willingly ignore and destroy their conscience and become a total sociopath. It's not your fault, buddy. It's your disease. And hey, if you relapse and begin lying, stealing, cheating and abusing people again, not to worry at all, 'cause relapse is part of recovery... have you tried Methadone or Vivitrol injections?"


     ... then you need to stop immediately. You are only validating and molding his or her destructive frame of mind and warped construction of self into a permanent cast. Amateur therapists (most of them) will simply give him or her a surplus of justification needed to continue drinking and using until they die. That's great. Good stuff. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Endless Needs

     I've often compared addicts to children and now that I have children of my own, the analogy has become all the more colorful (won't say "nuanced" as it annoys the shit out of me) and appropriate. If you are a parent, then you will know exactly what I'm talking about... specifically the torture of, say, trying to go out with a 1-year old and a volatile 3.5 year old (at the same time).

     The torture begins at the mere mention that we have to go out to run errands, especially since toddler was only on his 2nd hour of Paw Patrol re-runs. "Awwww, Nooooo!!!! I don't wanna, I don't wanna, I don't...!!!!" "Come on, honey, you gotta get your clothes on... please stop running away... please stop kicking me incessantly... please stop punching me in the f'ing face..." - fresh diaper, baby clothes, socks, baby shoes, shirt, pants, socks, shoes, coats, hats, mittens, diaper bag freshly packed with extra diapers, wipes, cloths, snacks, sippies, toys, change of clothes. 

     Then you need to actually get in the truck and engage in the modern-day PC definition of child abuse to get your toddler strapped into his car seat. With two of them, not only do the endless needs weave back and forth, but they often become simultaneous, and that is when I could happily drive to the asylum and commit myself for what would be the equivalent of a Caribbean vacation. 

     Toddler sees that I have a Patriots hat on and immediately starts freaking out, ripping his winter hat off and hucking it at me, screaming at the top of his lungs that he wants his Patriots hat, which is, of course, back upstairs. Leave them in truck (felony), run to back door, unlock back door, run upstairs, unlock back kitchen door (take off shoes so wife doesn't murder me for tracking in some mutated and no doubt lethal bacteria from the street) run upstairs to his room to grab his hat, run back down, put shoes back on, etc. etc. By the time I get back down, I'm sweating profusely, so I take off my Patriots hat, and now he doesn't even want the fucking hat anymore, so I put my hat back on so he'll want it again, but he's already onto me and starts whining incessantly and then screaming like he's possessed by a demon for absolutely no reason. 

     Having left the baby as well, her passie had long ago fallen out, so she was also in tears and screaming. I get out of truck and run around to open her door when maybe 20 things fall out - half-empty coffee cups (that open and spill all over me), all the toys I tried to distract her with that she's thrown out of her seat, both of her passies (which fall into a pile of dirt and need to be cleaned ((upstairs again))), bills, napkins, you name it. 

     Finally, she gets her passie back and calms back down, but now toddler is screaming again that he's hungry, so I pull out snack but he doesn't freakin' want crackers, he wants a freaking oat bar, which is the one snack I didn't bring. I tell myself not to cave, but you see, nobody will shut the fuck up, so I justify running back upstairs for the sake of some potential, albeit momentary, peace and quiet so I don't actually go insane. 

     Oat bar in mouth and we're finally off... until the moment I pull out. Passie has been thrown again, oat bar has been dropped, and everybody starts screaming and whining all over again, with renewed vigor and demonic overtones. Plus toddler doesn't like the music I put on... he wants Dave Matthews instead but can't really pronounce it and I have no idea what the fuck he's asking for and each time I say "What, honey?" he goes into a fit of rage/sadness/anxiety/not feeling heard blah, blah, blah...

     So... doesn't that remind you of a fucking addict? The endless needs of an addict are living proof that my theory is correct. Addicts are simply children in adult bodies who have/are refusing to grow up, which of course means a) taking care of themselves, b) supporting themselves and c) not feeling comfortable 24/7. Oh and yes, you do have to wipe your own ass now. Sorry.

     Case closed. Recovery is simple. It's called growing up. And if not, then we should at least suck our thumbs so people wanting to get into relationships with us can identify who we are before taking that masochistic plunge ;-)

     P.S. About the J. Hari speech, he should talk to some parents. Do you know how many addicts were thoroughly loved and nourished and supported and still mutated themselves into junkies? Trust me, most of us are pathologically selfish and completely preoccupied with our comfort.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Johann Hari's TED Talk

*Also see "Is Addiction a Social Disease?" about J. Hari's article and social diseases in America today. The post contains a previous post which addresses the false notion that addicts are just disconnected.

*

     Since there are many things we could discuss from Johann Hari's TED Talk, I'm going to hold off on the whole 'post-surgery/Vietnam soldiers returning home' thing right now except to say that, contrary to his assertion, anyone can become an addict, regardless of circumstances. Even those who simply develop a physical dependency for some reason must still experience withdrawal, and this alone can drive continued use, despite returning home to a supportive environment.

     Many, however, can stop (post-surgery, for example) because they have maintained sufficient willpower to stop. Those who do not stop have lost sufficient willpower, and as well, many who do not stop or easily give away their power like using more than not using. That is what distinguishes an addict from a non-addict. Addicts lose power more easily and love drugs and alcohol, whereas normal people have greater willpower and don't want to be fucking plastered all day long. Addicts indeed suffer from both a spiritual problem and a weak or vulnerable will. I don't care what anybody says about anything. That is the truth.

     Generally speaking, addicts are basically wimps about pretty much everything. They can't stand feeling uncomfortable, they can't deal with suffering of any kind, and they hate having to grow up and assume personal responsibility. Sorry. And yes, it may well be more difficult for 'addict brains', as it were, to stop compared to other people, but it's not impossible by any stretch, and we cannot use this disease nonsense to continue using substitution drugs or to abscond ourselves from accountability.

On the rat analogy:

     I find the initial analogy about rats pulling the crack lever less frequently while in the "rat park" to be ridiculous. I'm pretty sure the limbic system of the rat brain isn't capable of experiencing the depth of spiritual suffering as well as spiritual rapture (no offense to any rats, rat lovers or PC lunatics). Look, the fact is that addicts couldn't give two shits about alternative distractions. Human addicts are completely different than rat addicts. You can wave anything you want in the face of an addict, and he cares nothing. He will not be not drawn to such nourishment. He just wants the dope, trust me.

     Providing ample human connection etc. will have zero effect on our desire to use and get high. In fact, it might increase our desire, as we have not lost everything yet and are falsely reassured by the blessings we have been showered with. It will maintain our false belief that what we're doing isn't so bad (because we still have so much stuff and people still love and approve of us) so why stop now? Trust me, that's how we think. Positive reinforcement is the last thing we need. It's like, "Hey buddy, I know you like to speedball three times a day but we're gonna give you 20k to start a bagel shop." Um, no. You don't wanna do that. 

     The experiment worked simply because the 'rat park' provided ample distraction in just the same way the drug did without the presence of other distractions, but what human addicts suffer from is not having an amusement park nearby. Human addicts suffer from a spiritual problem, regardless of their connections and surroundings. A person can be thoroughly loved/connected and become an addict while another person who is abused, alone and destitute becomes a great success. Just as many loved, popular, spoiled brats become addicts as anybody else. In fact, most addicts I know had were from loving families and had a plethora of emotional nourishment or 'connection', as it were.

     So there isn't much that will prevent an addict from becoming an addict if he or she wants and loves to drink or use. That's the truth, but you can believe whatever you want. As well, nothing will stop an addict except a spiritual experience that lifts his obsession and lights within a fire for God. Addicts are different than normal people or rats who can just stop. Not only can we not stop once we lose the power of choice, but we also don't want to stop. That's right, addicts don't want to stop.

     Hari seems like a nice enough guy but you run into the same thing with every non-addict trying to describe the nature of addiction, which is that they don't really have any clue what they are talking about. It's no fault of his own, as it is admittedly difficult, if not impossible, to completely understand something you haven't ever experienced. So yeah, he has essentially missed the crux of the solution by missing the nature of our problem. That said, he certainly has a good yet somewhat unrelated point about this macro-cultural problem we have (the lack of connection) and is definitely heading in a much better direction than the methadone/dual-diagnoses/psychotropic crowd.
     
On social recovery:

     His idea of social recovery is backwards. That is to say, there is no social recovery without individual recovery. Individual recovery precedes our social recovery, as it is us and our condition that creates and attracts to us our social reality. You can't give an addict his recovery or feeling of connection. Outside forces cannot fix us, such as environment. I saw everybody giving him a standing ovation at the end, but that is only because it sounds inspirational and because people want it to be true, but not because it actually is.

     You see, that will never happen to me because I'm an addict who tells a truth which opposes what people want to hear and believe. That is why nobody will publish me, why I don't really sell that many books and why progressive radio stations rejected my requests to interview about the spiritual solution and what have you. Anything that runs contrary to the status quo gets muzzled and replaced by "Astro Turf", propaganda and manipulation. Here's another great TED Talk by CBS whistleblower, Sharyl Attkisson, on media bullshit and the doctored reality that we live in. To note, what she touches on is just the tip of the iceberg.

     So the fact is that drugs cause the spiritual problem to deepen and widen. Most addicts don't start off completely F'ed, but many do lack a spiritual life or purpose/service (that is to say, we worship ourselves, our comfort and desires before God, sacrifice and spiritual growth), though that is true of practically every human on earth. I personally enjoyed drinking and using more than I enjoyed my friends, family, hobbies, passions etc. (of which there were many).

On the opposite of addiction:

     JH concludes his talk with his catch phrase that "the opposite of addiction isn't sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection." I guess I'll just rephrase this more accurately. The opposite of addiction is the absence of self and selfishness. The opposite of addiction is God, which yes, does involve sobriety, i.e. reality - a fundamental requirement and foundation for the rest of our "life" recovery. Stigmatizing and punishing addicts has nothing to do with anything. Addicts will use because that's what we do. We want to. Trust me, every addict I've ever known doesn't give a shit about having friends. We want to get jammed and stay jammed 24/7. We want to saturate every square inch of our central nervous system at all costs. Doesn't matter what we have or what we lose.

     Why?

     Whereas normal people don't want to feel high and out of control all of the time, addicts love it. Normalcy and sanity and honesty is like nails on a chalkboard for us. Chaos and misery and drugs are familiar and comfortable, if you can fathom such a thing. Addicts are basically just backwards people. We are insane, and without God, there is no hope.

     Drugs are a false solution to life, but human connection is not powerful enough to replace addiction with. Personally, the only thing powerful enough to replace my addiction with is a willingness to put my spiritual growth first and a love for God over drugs. Why? For one, the power of God was required to restore me to sanity, and two, spiritual growth has been the only thing I have come to care about more than drugs. Nothing else. And yes, doing the right thing feeds that desire. Moral action makes us feels good about ourselves. That's why it works. It's not wrong to teach that to an addict, because it's TRUE. 

     I have no idea why we continuously have to take God out of the equation, but spiritual growth via spiritual action such as SERVICE is the solution for drug addicts. Service is an action that actually harnesses enough power to change the way we feel inside. And the whole stigma thing has been so contorted. Showering addicts with love (meaning unhealthy love such as unearned blessings and full access to things such as your presence) simply perpetuates the problem.

     I saw that he has 3+ million hits for this one talk. Theory and fluff will obviously make you quite popular, but just like many other real world issues, theory and idealism, while it sounds good, does not solve the problem. Once again, non-addict academics cannot solve addiction, just like they cannot solve anything they have no actual experience with. It's the same way that lawyers cannot run government, even though government is basically all lawyers. They are failing miserably, 1) because they actually believe you just have to write more and more laws and tax people more to solve everything, which is pure ignorance, and 2) they will never admit when they're wrong, so they have to continue the same insanity so as not to put their feet in their mouths.

     You need recovered addicts who have applied real world solutions to tell you what they have done. I and thousands of others I know attempt to do this, but is anyone listening? Not really. I may have a few readers, but to be perfectly honest, most people want to hear the fluff. That is fine. I really don't even care anymore. But hey, when that doesn't work, and when you give your addict 20k to start a business and he winds up under a fucking bridge, come back and read through this blog and see if he thinks, speaks and acts the way I describe here.

     I probably won't be here by then, but I'll leave all of this free stuff here for you to sift through... and I know how much everybody loves free stuff.

     But if you do come back, I promise you that he or she (addict) has a spiritual problem and must repair themselves in this way. Sure, part of our spiritual recovery involves human connection and meaningful relationships, so before anyone starts projecting anonymously through their keyboard, I'm not questioning or denying any of that.

     At the same time, we must be careful not to jump into too much at first. We take on a bit, relax into it, get stronger, hit a plateau and then take on a little more. I actually wouldn't recommend too many intense relationships right off the bat, especially intimate ones. Addicts tend to lose themselves easily and relationships are the perfect self-sucking, life-sucking, recovery-sucking thing. Why? Because intimate relationships and sex are drugs themselves. They alter our mood and effect our brain chemistry. But the point is we have to keep our spiritual health first above everything else or we will fail.

     In fact, he or she may need a miracle to occur. Why? Because we will only stop for something as powerful as the drug itself... and let me tell you, for people like me, drugs like heroin are quite powerful. It solved my LIFE problem, but falsely of course. I love drugs and alcohol with all my heart. Now I love God, or try anyway. That's it. And yes, I love God more than anybody in my life, although my kids are right up there. The love for a child is some powerful shit, so I admittedly get a little confused when I start thinking about Abraham and such moral dilemmas.

     At any rate, you have to get them to want to do something more than drugs, and believe me, there isn't too much we want to do more than drugs. Some of us want to pursue our dreams but only if we are okay enough to pursue them. As well, there is very much a moral component to finding an adequate replacement to drugs. It must involve action and service, not merely connection. So no standing ovation, but that's okay. It's not about that. It's about changing addicts so they can stop hurting their families and go help other people get better.

P.S. Please pick up the new book and let me know what you think. I'm curious to know how shitty it is, so don't hold back.