Everything I know about how I became recovered from drug and alcohol addiction - as well as depression, mania, fear, anxiety, boredom, angst and so forth - boils down to this:
Nothing happens without ACTION.
You can learn everything humanly possible about addiction and it won't change you at all. You can discover every psychological insight about yourself and again, it won't change anything. You can be loved by others and it won't change anything. You can get the best treatment and all the latest and greatest cutting edge meds and it won't change anything. You can go on methadone or suboxone and it won't change anything. There is no knowledge, no belief, no relationship, no group, no meeting, no doctor, no shrink, no pill and no science project that can turn an active addict into a recovered addict. Only the addict himself can change, with the help of God. He or she must actually get up off of the couch and work hard. Laziness breeds cowardice and cowardice breeds addiction and failure and death. The AA slogan "Just sit down, shut up, and wait for a miracle to happen" is truly one of the most asinine, let alone lethal, of them all.
Addicts must engage in constant right action all day, every day. This is what the medical establishment doesn't seem to understand, despite all of the degrees and the science and what have you. The addict is a special case. He is completely addicted to his comfort and pathologically focused on himself - his feelings, his thoughts, his life, you name it. It's not even about the drugs and alcohol, despite what the behavioral neuroscientists and geneticists will tell you. That is the truth, despite what you may believe or want to believe. It's about the person, not the drugs. The drug addict must change who and what he is. He must change his fundamental attitude and the way he sees the world and others. He must change the way he sees and approaches suffering and human life. He must change his entire perception of pain, responsibility and personal challenges.
If an addict does nothing, than his addiction (or rather, his obsession to use) will never go away. If an addict does nothing than nothing will he become. The addict alone will make himself into who and what he is. If he fails, it is no one's fault but his own. If he succeeds, his success can be credited to action and God. So you must understand that self-knowledge and science projects are useless. Yes, that includes this blog. Completely and utterly useless. Words are but dormant seeds, but the more an addict does, the better he will get.
This isn't cerebral. The isn't academic. Intellectuals think that you can solve every problem with academics, the same way politicians and lawyers think you can solve every problem with more government and more laws. For instance, they just passed some opiate law in Massachusetts. Useless. More laws and more academics won't solve anything, but they are blind and will never understand something they have never experienced. They are also programmed to think inside of a box, and thus there is no hope for you there. Listen to me, drug addicts don't use because there are drugs being made and prescribed by doctors. Addicts are addicted to self, to selfishness, and ultimately, to self-destruction. Drugs and alcohol aren't the main show. It is what lies underneath that causes the symptom of addiction.
So the day you see your addict DOING things... that is the day you are seeing your addict begin to recover. Without consistent action and 100% sobriety (including all mood-altering substances and yes, POT. Don't let your half-wit teenager try to tell you that pot is not a drug), there is no such thing as recovery and change. Trust me on this. You can just tell if someone is okay or if he is still filled to the brim with bullshit. Recovered people glow whereas sick people do not. Recovered people are willing to do anything to grow and get better whereas sick people aren't willing to do much of anything.
Do yourself a favor and observe him or her. Are they doing productive things? Are they waking up at 5:30am before work to pray and meditate for an hour? Are they writing and reading inventory? Are they helping you? Are they trying to really listen deeply, to be present, to love you and understand how to love you better? Are they going out and helping others? Do they care about little else but growing spiritually? Bottom line, are they doing the right thing and changing internally? Are their glaring character defects subsiding - the narcissism, anger, judgment, jade, verbal abuse, frustration, depression, discontent, dissatisfaction and on and on? To note, I'm no freaking angle but I no longer ignore my conscience and therefore I no longer struggle with self-destruction.
All you have to do is observe and listen to your gut and how you feel and you will know everything you need to know. There is but one recipe for change, and that is action - right action. Remember that recovery is NOT a function of time, despite what some knucklehead will tell the newcomer at the meeting. Time spent untreated is frightening. If time gets you better then you are not an addict or an alcoholic. There is no neutral gear for people like me. If we are not moving forward then we are moving backward and becoming sicker. Addiction is not about drugs and alcohol, it is about a person who is spiritually ill, and a spiritual illness calls for a spiritual solution. Sorry, but recovery never has been and never will be a theory.
Also see 'Pot' & 'Words are Just Dormant Seeds'.