When trying to stay clean and sober there will be times when the mind of an alcoholic or addict will revert to its old way of dealing with life. We know that to pick up any substance means to give up on life and let the addiction make our choices for us. This means death, prison, rehabs, or suffering a soul sickness that eats away at our inner being. This also means destroying the lives of everyone that comes in contact with us. The selfishness that exists when this mental disease is running rampant is astonishing to say the least. We lie, we steal, we cheat, and we do many absurd things that we would not normally do if we were under the influence.
Even though there is still a debate whether this is actually an illness or not I personally believe it is. The reason I believe this is an illness or disease is because no one in their right mind would make a decision to put something in their body that would cause so much harm to themselves and others. At least no one in a sound state of mind that was thinking rationally. So I believe addiction and alcoholism is a mental health illness that needs to be treated as one. There is many scientific studies out there that you can research that will confirm my opinion.
The disease of alcoholism and addiction centers in the mind and body of an alcoholic in an addict. First off once an addict and an alcoholic puts a substance in their body it creates a craving for more. This craving is only created in the body of an addictive person. Someone that is not an alcoholic can have one or two drinks and with a decision stopped drinking. Say the nonalcoholic has to get up early the next day to go to work they can make the decision before they pick up a drink to only have a couple because they know that to have too much will affect their ability the following morning. Now with an alcoholic they can make that decision to only have one or two drinks but once they put the alcohol or any substance in their body the craving for more will over power the decision they made prior to ingesting the substance. All different types of rationalizations will enter the mind of an alcoholic and addict to convince them to go on drinking and driving even though they know they have responsibilities that need to be taken care of. This is something that a nonalcoholic could not understand. A nonalcoholic and addict a lot of times will say why don’t people that continue to drink and drug when it’s destroying their lives just stop. It must be because they don’t want to stop which makes no sense at all to me. Of course we alcoholics and addicts would like to control her drinking and drugging like normal people but this way of indulging in that lifestyle is impossible to do safely for us. So the only answer is complete abstinence.
So you might say if that’s the issue then why not just not pick up a drink or drug because you know that once you start your not able to stop. This question brings up the second issue. This is the real issue that alcoholics and addicts have. The craziest thing that any alcoholic in attic is ever done is not hurting others, doing illegal stuff, hurting oneself, or continuing to drink once they start. The most insane thing is to pick up that first drink or drug knowing that anything could happen. Now why would someone full of knowledge knowing what could happen would still pick up. This is where the mental illness comes in and some people believe to be also a spiritual illness or if you would like to say a feeling that something is missing deep down within ourselves. Let me give you a quick example of what I’m trying to convey. Say I made the decision not to ever drink or drug again and I’m going to use my own willpower to do this because alcoholics and addicts do have a very strong willpower. The surprising thing is there willpower is very weak when it comes to alcohol and drugs.
I will give a personal example that has happened to me in the above circumstance. I had gone to treatment at the age of 18 because my life was spiraling down hill. I was living in an apartment with no heat or hot water. My life was lived party to party and I was drinking and drugging as much as possible. I also had a couple roommates that were living the same exact lifestyle which made it a lot easier to continue with what I was doing. So I made the decision to go to a treatment center and while I was there I made a wholehearted decision that when I got out I couldn’t drink or drug because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop and that I would destroy my life even more. So the day I left I came back to the same place I was living at without the heat and hot water. I was sitting there in a house all alone and I was not going to use. And for some crazy reason my loneliness got the best of me and I decided to call some old friends to let them know how I was doing. The old friends had invited me over because they were having a party and I told them I was staying clean and sober so I couldn’t go. I got off the phone and my mind slowly convinced me that I should walk down there and just hang out for a little while. I was not going drink or drug. Maybe I would find a nice girl and we can go back to my place and hang out and then I wouldn’t feel so alone. So I headed down about a block away to the party. As I was hanging out there I still felt very alone. Everyone was drinking and partying and I was just standing there bored. People were offering me drinks and I continue to turn them down saying I was sober. Then all of a sudden my mind said you could just smoke a little pot because that wasn’t really the biggest issue for you. Now I want you to remember that I had made the decision not to drink or drug just about a couple hours before this. So I started smoking pot with a couple people there and all of a sudden felt a connection with others. I felt like a part of which is all I ever want to feel. Now after my mind had created that rationalization I decided that I would have a drink because one drink never cause any issues. And once I put that trinket my body it started that craving that I talked about earlier. After a couple drinks I really felt connected to everyone. And I drank that night until I blacked out. So this is what happens in the mind of an alcoholic and addict when they make a wholehearted decision to not use when they have no other solution in their lives.
So how can we overcome such a debacle. There are many different ways to have been created to overcome this obsession and craving that have worked for millions and millions of people. I will share one that has worked for me. Before I explain this to you I want you to know that I am not a religious person. I like to base everything on trial and error. I like to try something and if it works for me I continue doing it and if it doesn’t I try another method. I currently have been sober over nine years using this method. It has not only kept me clean and sober but it’s also brought a purpose to my life which I had never had before. And being an addict and an alcoholic having a purpose is a huge part of being able to stay clean and sober. Below is a list of 3 things that I do on a daily and weekly basis that combat that first initial obsession of the mind that would convince me to pick up a drink or drug.
- A sense of community and a connection with others on the same path.
I’m involved in a 12 step program and that has worked for me to keep a connection with people on the same path is me. Remember above I had mentioned when I got out of rehab I was sitting all alone and I just wanted to have a sense of feeling like I had friends and people I could connect with. So as an alcoholic and addict have a deep yearning to have a connection with other human beings. And having those other people on the same path as me helps me not feel alone. It also helps me feel like I have a purpose. A purpose in helping others and letting them help me. These friends also hold me accountable and truly care. This also taps into my people pleasing which might not be the best. Helps me stay sober so I don’t let other people down. This might not be the best solution but at times this is help me stay clean and sober.
- Spiritual path or a new way of thinking and living
like I said before I am not a religious person. I believe I am a spiritual person. These two things are not the same. I be leave religion is a way of worship. And spirituality is a way of life. Religion takes blind faith but spirituality in my experience takes trial and error. Has no rules and is meant to be a practice to find a wholeness that most human beings are always striving for. There are many different ways up the mountain to the top. I have found that the 12 steps in many different anonymous programs can be altered to fit our own spiritual beliefs. For me I have taken on a lot of the Buddha’s teachings and also Taoism mixed with my own experience. This is my own path and I have personal experience that has been proven time and time again get me through those tough times when left to my own devices and my own thinking would not be powerful enough to get past those thoughts that to pick up a drink or drug would make anything better. There are many different mindfulness exercises which have been scientifically proven to work with addiction and alcoholism. You can search the Internet and find tons of resources.
- Yoga and exercise
I found both of these to be very helpful when those thoughts of drinking or drugging enter our minds. One of the tricks that I have practiced is doing yoga because it gets me out of my head and into my body. If I can get out of my head when those thoughts arise I can go to a place in the body where the thought of a drink in a drug does not exist. Like I said before the disease centers in the mind. And the problem comes when we followed that thought in her mind too long and it creates action or makes us feel like we have no choice but to act on that thought. By taking a walk, exercising, and moving a muscle and changing a thought, it gives us enough time for that thought to pass.
These are just a few things that I have practiced that work for me. There are many different things that can be done that I did not mention but I’m trying to keep this article short. I will be writing more articles on other methods that work and may be an article on some methods that I found not to work. Thank you for taking your time to read this article and feel free to reach out to me if you have any ideas or you just want to chat.
Thank You, Samsara