A comprehensive, multi-addiction recovery resource guide. You will discover groundbreaking, science-based personal transformation and motivational techniques.
Empower your recovery with cutting-edge scientific, spiritual and holistic approaches with step-by-step instructions from crisis to resolution and beyond to transformation.
It’s a safe statement that no one ever woke up in the morning with a burning desire to drink and drug the rest of their lives away. No one ever went straight from a few casual beers to, “Hey, I think I’ll start using heroin intravenously today!” Addiction is a process, unique to each individual’s circumstances. Coming to terms with addictive illness is also a process.
The first thing I had to do was get honest with me. Sure, there had been brief moments of clarity, but they were quickly washed away in the raging flood of my fear, guilt, shame, and, most of all, my excuses. The addictive mind is a peak-performance rationalization machine, optimized to justify, validate, defend, and otherwise protect a bad habit. To begin to move past my addiction, I had to understand that it was controlling me—and that I controlled nothing.
My drinking habit had been my lifelong companion, like a comfortable sweater I couldn’t give up. I could not envision life without it.
Your goal, starting the minute you are able to engage in the milieu (the therapeutic and social environment/community), is to listen, absorb, learn and integrate new information and experiences. Pay attention to the things you hear with the goal of retaining as much information as possible. The more things register as experiences, either in the moment or by connecting them to events from your own life, the more actual learning takes place. Knowledge without experience and making some emotional association will not leave its mark. The therapeutic groups, meetings and counseling sessions, along with interactions with staff and your peers in the facility will feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose. Even if it’s overwhelming, focus on making the most of this opportunity.
Your inner critic will give voice to negative thoughts and reactions. Every time you’re tempted to give in to that voice and analyze the merits of what it’s saying, remember that it speaks from that place of fear. This is the old, addicted you, kicking and screaming as it’s being shown the door. Remember, I said it will not go quietly; it will not go quickly either, unfortunately. Your goal is to start thinking for yourself. The old voice tells you to think of yourself. You need to see the bigger picture; your inner critic wants to get you stuck in the moment just enough to miss something important.
For many, one of the hardest things in recovery is socializing. Your old friends and old activities could represent influences and an environment where bad things can happen to a good recovery. If you are swimming in a sea of alcohol or your old drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time until you swallow, inhale or otherwise consume some. However good your intentions might be, you need to remember that the addictive mind is a peak performance rationalization machine, which you are still reengineering.
You are serious about changing, and you believe that you have the willpower to resist temptation. This is the big trap that catches anyone who doesn’t heed the experience of those who have already fallen into it. You could take a lie-detector test, and you would pass when you deny intending to relapse. After a night out with old playmates in old playgrounds, you’ll also be telling the truth when you say you don’t know how or why you picked up. The reality is that until you have changed at a substantial depth, you remain powerless over the lies and the lure of your old addiction, which insidiously comes in the form of friends and familiar places.
When you have practiced something so much that you do it on “autopilot,” you are doing it unconsciously. When you get in the driver’s seat of the car, you’re used to driving. When you go to the bar, you’re accustomed to drinking. It feels like the natural thing to do.
So, the sticky part is all about feeling out of your element, off your game. If you have spent years in the grip of addiction, your habits, hobbies and pastimes are going to be all about that lifestyle. Everything else is going to feel unnatural at first, and you’re going to feel the pull of the old and familiar. People, places and things were all about the buzz. What do you do now, where do you go?
The old reality of recovery was a struggle against the overwhelming odds of a brain that won’t change and a genetically fixed body. Given choice between that and a reality where I make up my mind how my recovery and my life will be, why would I not opt for the recovery and life of my dreams? It is precisely because the mind has the power to change itself, and because it even has power over the body’s genetic expression that we must take control and harness its potential for positive change. When I learn how to stop thinking about how high I am, and start thinking about how amazing I am, my reality will begin to start reorganizing itself.
So, what’s possible in this new reality? Actually, anything is.
I frequently witness families losing sons and daughters who are barely beyond childhood to the ultimate catastrophe, unintentional fatal overdose. The obituaries, sometimes accompanied by the deceased’s high school yearbook picture, courageously convey the truth—that they lost their battle with addiction. Out of the depths of their despair, these families walk on bravely, and with selfless honesty share their tragedy that someone else might avoid it. I have also seen many such parents and relatives take up the cause of fighting addiction.
When the world judges us, we can respond from a place of authenticity. This is a powerful antidote for stigma. By being true to my identity, I represent myself as a person in recovery and also represent hard-working people in recovery everywhere. A society that fears addiction doesn’t know how to act or respond to the addicted and recovering population. It becomes my responsibility to provide cues and set an example. Moreover, it becomes the collective responsibility of we who are recovering to demonstrate and model the behaviors and energy that correspond to the upgrade we are bringing into reality. We must be greater than to stop being viewed as less than—but no less humble than what the twelve-step model encourages. We are ordinary people who have done something extraordinary, and we demonstrate how amazing and powerful human beings can be. In recovery, we are the heroes of our own lives. This is not the time to play it small.