Some things are true only because you believe them to be. Some things are true whether you want to believe them or not. One of my truths is that I’m an addict. It doesn’t matter what the substance is, if it has the potential for abuse, I will abuse it. I try to tell myself it’s just booze. That since I’ve been sober for so long I’m in the clear, but it’s never just been booze.
It’s obvious some places. Of course I can’t have just a little bit of cocaine. But it gets fuzzier and fuzzier the more socially acceptable the drug is. Prescribed anti-anxiety medications that are known to be habit-forming are out. Anytime my psychiatrist wants to change my medication I have to ask if any of them have known potential for abuse. I can’t have just a cup of coffee, because soon I’ll be drinking coffee all day, pushing my anxiety through the roof while my sleep bottoms out. Unless I want to smoke a pack a day again, I can never take a drag from a cigarette. I can’t even smoke pot without it quickly consuming my whole day. And forget about sugar. There is no such thing as moderation when it comes to substances with me. It’s an off/on switch.
I guess that’s just another personality trait I need to learn to deal with. But the first step to dealing with it is probably recognizing that it’s a personality trait and not a character flaw. That it does not mean I am fundamentally broken or there is something wrong with me. Moderation is just a thing I can’t do and that’s okay.
That’s why they make you say you’re powerless in AA, I guess. I never went to AA precisely because I hated that part. I didn’t want to powerless, I wanted to be powerful. Vibrant. I wanted to feel like I could do anything. Not powerless. Powerless feels so small and weak. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe it can be liberating.
Maybe by admitting I am powerless over addiction I can stop trying to be something I’m not. I can stop testing the waters of substance abuse and finally walk away.
14 thoughts on “Addict”
It is so liberating, and that is so powerful because of the honesty. I find so much more grace in surrender than faulty persistence. I’m the same way- I’m trying hard to navigate how to have coffee when I know that I really have to stop, deal, and be patient. Being an addict isn’t always fun, but it’s not really ever boring either. Which is good and not so good all at once too. 🙂 xo
I am powerless over a drink.
By allowing myself the grace to accept that and stop I have become powerful in my life in ways I never thought possible. (not perfect, never perfect, always something, but not THAT!)
Without spending all that time and energy trying to moderate life opened.
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I think trying to be something we’re not is part of what holds us in addiction. That and shame, I think. Even for people who can’t go all the way and say God can restore us to sanity, if they can lean on their group and be willing to be who they are and face their shame, there’s hope they can recover.
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Remember…it’s “powerless over alcohol”. Technically, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.”
I’ve learned I’m powerless in many other ways too. There’s very little we actually control if you think about it. And that’s okay! Like you said, it’s liberating to finally get that weight off of our shoulders.
I like this quote I’ve heard in meetings:
“My sponsor told me that, since I was sober, I was powerless over alcohol and drugs. But I wasn’t powerless over my elbow. Now that I was clean, if I chose to drink or drug again, that was my decision.”
A wise man, Gregory Bateson, in considering the problem and process of addiction said that the most dangerous time for an alcoholic is when he or she thinks they have won the battle and can relax. This post about the impossibility of moderation reminds me of that. I have managed to avoid most addictive patterns with the exception of smoking, in part because any time I saw a pattern, say of drinking, I changed it in some way or stopped, and some things, like the sheer seductiveness of cocaine just scared the hell out of me. I’ve worked, as a therapist with addicts and had several others involved in my private life, and seen the truth of what you write. One of the mysteries is that some people do seem to be able to be addicted to only one thing while for others it does seem to be a personality feature. Knowing that we are powerless in some way is liberating, whatever it is, I think, because it breaks an illusion of power that will always lead to disaster of one sort or another. I could go on to extend that thought beyond the individual to groups and even nations, but in this context I’ll resist that temptation to indulge in my most enduring addiction. Yep, I really am powerless over that part of my mind. Thanks.
Hi I think it is interesting to look at what you are, are are not, powerless over on an individual basis. For example I am just coming up to 11 years clean off drugs and alcohol and, since I came into recovery in January 2005, I have never relapsed on drugs and alcohol. I don’t want to test the waters over whether I am powerless over drugs and alcohol as I am happier than I have ever been with all my mental health problems and addictions in recovery so why take the risk? But sugar, which I had to give up as I am bulimic, I am now able to consume small quantities of as long as I do this very rarely and it doesn’t become a habit. Coffee I drink 2 cups a day and I’m fine with that. I wouldn’t take benzos in recovery as I was addicted to them although I know some people do with no problems. Although I do sometimes wonder if I am still powerless over drugs and alcohol it is just too much of a risk to try it out. http://bit.ly/1ER5cLY
Hmmm I am being tested at the moment to see whether or not I am powerless or powerful before the mental clusterfuck which used to be called anorexia (though now they don’t give it a name, because labels are too rewarding, I guess).
What I WANT is to be thin and happy. No. What I WANT is to avoid ever, ever looking again how I did before – that fat, awful child who was abused and reviled in all circles. I just don’t want to be her again, and being fat reminds me of her, and so I’m unhappy. Simple as that.
I try to cut things out. At the moment my therapist is insisting I put them back and I’m not keeping control, but it’s only day two, so we’ll see. Apparently I need to be healthy and flexible. sigh It’s easier when it’s a thing which isn’t food, I reckon.
But you are powerFUL for choosing not to re-engage with those things which harm you. Keep doing that.
I agree with this, having an addictive personality is a real thing, you almost have to have an inside battle with yourself to see who wins, your subconscious (go on, just have one more drink…..No one will know……Just sleep with that person, you know you want to…..Just call in sick…You deserve it, go on) or you, it’s the little voice in your head, the one which drives down the motorway and you can’t recall the last 10 minutes, the impulse in you, the one that scares you with nightmares. The subconscious can be tamed, it can be your friend, well almost, perhaps it can be hushed if not silenced completely.
I remember when I used to chew my way through two packs of gum a day at work. I could barely move my jaw, but I’d still be popping piece after piece of gum. Spit one out, pop in another. One of my interns, who knew about my eating “issues,” though we weren’t calling it an eating disorder yet, said to me, “You’d better not ever try cocaine.” We both laughed but we both knew it was true.
I saw this interesting TED talk by Johann Hari about addiction recently. It was posted on the blog Wellnessworx. Maybe you will like it, because it gives a very different perspective and presents a lot of research that I wasn’t aware of. http://youtu.be/PY9DcIMGxMs
There’s a lot of power in admitting powerlessness. The less I try to control things, the easier it gets, but it’s a terrifying, rocky process. I am thinking of you and wishing you so much goodness, light, happiness, and health. ❤️
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This is so powerful and raw. Absolutely beautiful the way you worded this. Though addiction isn’t usually a beautiful thing. Cigarettes are my weakness and it’s getting worse. I hope you find the power I don’t have.
Indeed Ruby! Not a Flaw, merely a personality trait, an unfortunate one, but one, none the less, that once identified, accepted, can be controlled. Ditto. Love and Hugs, Dorn
Just know that you are not alone with addiction, you may think that you are, but you are not. Addiction is a daily struggle for us, for me it was a matter of give in to it or die. Simple. Knowing I am one drink away from death scared me to sobriety. My genetic composition sets me up for addiction, it runs in our family history, over & over. Half the healing comes from recognizing & embracing the fact that you are an addict. Nothing wrong with that either. Today we can talk more about this and not feel rejected or judged by others. Seeing a psychiatrist regularly, family & people who love & care about me (you) helps keep me going. Life is one day at a time.
Hi Ruby. I know you are away. Thank you for posting your heart felt book. I am reading it. Cheers!
“posting” meant Mailing! sorry.