Addicts Who Don’t Get Better Don’t Really Want to Change
I recently spoke to a struggling opiate addict today who desperately cried out for help and emphatically claimed that she can’t live like this… but then when I asked her if she’s willing to drop everything and give all she has towards getting better, she said something standard like, “Oh no, I can’t go away, even for a day. I have to go to work. I’ll lose this or that…”
We addicts become deluded, almost brainwashed, falsely believing we need all sorts of things to be okay – a job, business, girlfriend or boyfriend… whatever the case. I told her plainly that if she doesn’t get better, she will lose everything anyway, including time. I guarantee it.
Part of this is that we associate these fleeting external things with comfort, so the truth is we are afraid of stepping outside of our comfort zone. We fear that if we go away, we won’t be comfortable anymore, but this is precisely what we need. Comfort is the very thing that brings us down. If you want to get better, start doing that which makes you UNcomfortable, not more comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, I also told her that if she is really wants to get better and stay better, she is going to have to be willing to suffer. Addicts want to feel good 24/7, so we must destroy the notion and the demand that sobriety must also feel good. It’s okay to suffer. In fact, that is what human life is. Addicts are essentially children in adult bodies, but adult life involves not feeling good sometimes. It involves pain, suffering, discomfort, anxiety, stress, loss and a slew of other challenges. Sure it also includes laughter, joy, fun and adventure but life was fundamentally designed to be up and down, right and left, light and dark. Getting better, therefore, is in many ways just the process of growing up.
Addicts love to declare that nobody understands, that we are the only ones feeling and suffering to the extent we are, which is just one of many convenient delusions. Our experience certainly isn’t novel at all, and with the exception of having the mental obsession, can be addressed. All seven billion people on Earth suffer, but they have sufficiently maintained their conscience or their relationship with God not to voluntarily evolve into junkies.
So to get better, we must do what’s hard, not easy. We must be willing to work extremely hard taking right action. We must be willing to drop everything and let go of our job, our business or our relationship if it means the choice between that or getting better… if it means the choice between that or life. We must be willing to feel some pain and walk through it without complaining about it, without broadcasting our entire inner/emotional experience on a megaphone. It's okay to suffer and not talk about it. As we get better, we learn that we can suffer without wearing it on our sleeve. We can even suffer and ask others how they are feeling, how they are doing, how things are for them.
We should understand that suffering is part of life. We must not fight it, but rather sit down beside it and embrace it, knowing that our thoughts and feelings, while uncomfortable at times, are just thoughts and feelings. They won’t kill us, and they don't have to rule us. We must be willing to do anything it takes to get better. We must be willing to put our spiritual/mental health before everything and everyone, because without it, we die… and more importantly, we shatter everyone who gives a shit about us.
There are no excuses not to get better. Who cares about a job or a business or a relationship if you just end up shooting dope again? You will lose it all anyway, so the truth is that nothing else matters but our spiritual health and our relationship with God.
So after speaking on the phone, I pulled over and prayed deeply for her to actually reach lower depths of despair that she may she the futility of using drugs as a solution and be left with no choice but to reach out with all that she has, find God and embrace spiritual growth. Then, despite her refusal of my initial recommendation, which was to remove herself from her environment so she could focus solely on the work involved in getting better, I set her up with local recovered sponsor to attempt the Step process out here in the real world. If she does the work and recovers, she'll be all the more stronger for it, but some of us need to be removed from our environment as we tend to relapse before the mental obsession is actually lifted, so to take Steps out in the world, willpower comes into play.