“Hi my name is Tim and I am an addict.”

I am happy to say it has been around ten years since I have uttered those words in an NA meeting. This does not mean I have been totally sober the entire ten years, it just means I haven’t been co-dependent on meetings to stay sober. I have discovered a much more successful approach at staying sober, and that is controlling the addiction instead of the addiction controlling me. Learning this key lesson is in my opinion the most efficient way to maintain sobriety. As addicts if we are talked into, forced or just decide enough is enough our options to beat this thing is through treatment and NA/AA. Unfortunately this system does not work for everyone and those who it does not work for are in danger of allowing the drugs to continue to control them. I am sure there are programs out there that do not follow the traditional NA/AA model; I have just never heard of any before. I have often times thought about sharing my experiences to others in hopes my approach and philosophy may help them beat their addictions.

In my life I have had my fair share of issues with addiction. I started using at the age of thirteen and from that very moment I was in love with getting high. I would spend the next ten plus years getting high everyday all day. I have almost thrown my life away several times in the name of getting my next high, and in the midst of it all I really didn’t care. My life had zero value to me, and I felt it had zero value to anyone close to me. Since my life had zero value and nothing really mattered I might as well enjoy life and party. Because of my chronic using I have been through treatment several times. Except for the last time I was in treatment I always used while I was going through treatment. For some reason I was never able to buy into the NA/AA model, and because of this I took very little lessons away from my time in the program. The last time I was in treatment I was there for a week and I had to go AMA (against medical advice.) I didn’t want to leave to get high, I just hated being locked up. There was no way I would survive getting clean in this place, so I checked out and went to wage battle against my addiction.

I am not saying the NA/AA model is completely useless because it does help many people get clean, it just didn’t do it for me. The sad part is I do not believe I am alone in this thinking, and to my knowledge there are not many treatment centers out there that take a different approach on getting people clean. I think NA/AA takes vulnerable individuals and creates co-dependency upon the meeting and the collective in order to stay sober.  I was never able to get past the concept of handing my life over to a higher power. For those of you who read this blog a lot you know I am stubborn and have strong feelings and opinions on religion. It was this step that almost always caused me to shun this organization. The only higher power I recognized was myself, and I was broken so this is scenario simply wouldn’t work. Little did I know at the time that this concept would become a huge component of my personal plan to beat addiction.

In my journey from being a drug addict to a non-addict was a long and hard road. I had many relapses some worse than the others. I do not look at a relapse of using just once. I look at a relapse as thrusting yourself back into the using and abusing routine. My last relapse was probably my worst ever. I am not going to get into great depth of what I was using or how it was systematically destroying my life. I will just tell you that by the time I hit the absolute bottom I spent two weeks curled up in my bed detoxing, insanely sick from withdrawals. My doctor recommended I go to a detox center to be monitored because the drugs I was using were dangerous to come off of. I being the stubborn man I am wanted to do this without the aide of professional assistance. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the strength to beat this thing. It was an extremely rough road, and I can tell you with certainty this last binge/detox episode changed my life. I have not nor do I ever plan to relapse again. I can say this with complete certainty because of the personal program I built myself.

Among many other things I realized this lifestyle I had been living my entire life has been nothing but destructive, and has hurt those I loved. There is no high worth fucking up the lives of those who care about you. There is no high worth my kids seeing me as a junkie. This last situation will be my last. Since this last episode I have had many chances to take my drugs of choice and every time I have turned it down. I realized that if I put myself in safe situations then I am limiting the possibility of being confronted with the option to use. The times where the drugs were still able to find me I said no every time. I may have wanted to say yes so I could experience the sweet embrace of my drug of choice, but I realize that these particular narcotics had a profound control over me, and if I gave in even one time it could be my last. Unlike the AA/NA model I do not believe that once an addict always an addict, and to stay sober you can never touch another chemical of any kind. I think this concept is the downfall of many people who follow this model. It is possible to enjoy chemicals without completely throwing your life away. Personally I just needed to know which chemicals I had control over like drinking for example and which ones had control over me. With these things along with the other lessons and practices I put together I went from my addiction controlling me to me controlling my addiction. This my friends is part of the magic key to finally beating addiction.

I do not recognize addiction as an illness. I view it as a self-induced affliction. We all had the choice to say no at one point in our lives, and many more after we said yes for the first time. We all had the choice to make better decisions but we did not. These choices in the beginning were not made because we had an illness it happened because we made poor choices, because of this we were lead down the path of addiction. I believe the withdrawals and suffering which comes from getting clean is tough, but far from an illness. We did this to ourselves and taking ownership is a huge step in looking at your life of using, and as a result beating it. I believe many people use the cop out of addiction as an illness to justify their behaviors while they were using. I know when it came down to making amends I whole heartily blamed my horrendous actions on my using, as if I had no control over my decisions. These types of justifications keep us from seeing who we really are, and what we are capable of becoming because of our using. Saying “the illness made me do it” almost makes you blind to the person you have become.

I recognize when the drugs control you the addiction seems like an illness. But more so I consider addiction as a choice. I understand this to be true because in looking back at my using days my drug binges always started with a choice to relapse and use again. Even in the beginning I made the initial choice to use drugs I knew were highly addictive and destructive. I knew this yet I still made the choice to try them, even after trying them the first time I had to make the choice to try them again and again. At any point I had the choice to make a better decision. Relapsing was my choice which threw me back into a self-induced affliction. We addicts are very much in control of this decision; we just need to possess the strength and common sense to make good choices. We may sit back and blame it on our “illness,” but in reality it is our choice to use once again which is the issue. Finding the “why” in this scenario and facing it will assist in solving the problem. This along with learning to control the addiction instead of the addiction controlling you is a good start in getting sober.

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Comments
  1. Tim,
    For a moment there I thought, “Now I understand why Tim doesn’t want to be on medication.”
    That stopped working when I came to “It is possible to enjoy chemicals without completely throwing your life away.”
    Now I am confused again.
    Jodi

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Jodi,

      Sorry for the confusion. I could have went into more detail in this post but it was already getting to long. I dont mind taking meds that do not alter me, but I have to be careful with anything that gets me high which is why I do not take benzo’s for my anxiety. I know this to be a drug which always has and always will regardless of how strong I am. I know this so I avoid it like the plague, but drinking for example is a whole different story. My drug of choice was never alchohol. I drank it but it was not my favorite. I am an addict but I am still able to enjoy a drink or two without having it throw me into a complete relapse cycle. The very few times I do drink I get buzzed and thats it. I do not crave it again. I can go six months between drinking. One thing AA/NA teaches is once an addict always an addict and you can never touch another chemicle again because it will throw you off the wagon. This just isnt true.

  2. Addiction: A Self-Induced Affliction « The Philosophy of Me…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  3. leelee says:

    I found you because of your work with the Tao Te Ching. I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoy your thoughtful perspectives.

    best,
    lee

  4. Deauna says:

    I like this post because you talk about making choices. I wish more people would realize that everything is about choice and internal strength and character. I wish you well.

  5. DP says:

    I love to drink… I’m not going to lie that I get pretty blasted on the weekends (typically starting on Thursday), but it isn’t every single thursday, friday, saturday, sunday…. last week for example was pretty heavy Thursday, break Friday, Saturday again, and Sunday… but I don’t drink intra-week.

    I’ve never felt like I’ve had a problem – I’m always functional at work as I don’t drink during the day and tend to balance out.

    • One of my personal classifications of what defines an addict is if they are able to function in society. If they are able to function without any issues then it really doesnt matter how much they use because they are controlling the drug instead of the drug controlling them. Now drining is a normal thing, but I would say this even if you were using coke thur-sun. Life is short and I have no issues with using from time to time to have a good time. I think it can be very healthy

  6. I read with great interest the above, but have to say it left me thinking that it might be ok if I use a little bit of amphetamine every now and then!

    I, like yourself, have struggled with addiction for most, if not all of my life. However, although I am an addict, I have not used amphetamine before and therefore it was not my ‘drug of choice’. Based on your reasoning, I should be able to safely use a bit of ‘speed’ on weekends only – for example.

    I am fortunate in that I now have a greater understanding of my personality i.e. ‘addictive nature’ than I did some years ago or I just might be tempted to experiment with another life-destroying substance.

    You may have some valid points, and what you have written might very well be your experience – but to imply that an addict could choose to use a different drug from the drug he was addicted to safely, is, in my opinion, very dangerous.

    • Addiction,

      Welcome to the community. I see your point and I wasnt suggesting anyone do something as horrible as meth. In my experience I do not have issues with drugs as long as I stay away from my drugs of choice. Meth was not one of my drugs of choice and neither was crack, but I would never gamble by trying it. I was talking more towards alchohol or weed.

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