Archive for the ‘AA’ Category

“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.

I have dealt with the demon of so-called  “addiction” since I was thirteen years old. I have been sent to treatment a few times, and have attempted to do the twelve steps. Looking back on my journey and the experiences I have gone through, I am unsure whether I can call this an illness. I consider entering this world and trying to get out of it is a choice not an illness.

I fully understand the effects drugs have on your mind and body if you allow yourself to let the drugs control you; over you controlling the drugs. It is when the drugs control you; it creates a problem, but not an illness. Throughout the process of transitioning between you controlling and the drugs controlling, you always have the choice to stop. The problem is you don’t want to stop, hence this is the choice you are making. It is when someone hits a bottom; then they finally make the choice to change.

I have felt the mental and physical effects of withdrawal. I know what it is like, and I am aware of the trials and tribulations you have to go through to kick the habit. What I don’t believe is when you hit that point you have an illness. Every decision you made to get where you are at this moment have all been your choices.

The choices you make while using, which hurt the ones you love, is not a result of your illness. This is a product of your selfishness, and only caring about yourself. Many people including myself use the term “illness” to try to justify their fuck up’s. Instead of taking responsibility for their choices, they justify and hide behind the label of illness.

I do not believe in AA, or the twelve steps. I think it is a form of brainwashing, which causes the individuals to become co-dependent on the program. Treatment centers should teach people to be strong and independent, instead of filling their heads with weakness. I do respect AA for the people they help get sober. This is a great accomplishment for the individual, and I will not minimize that achievement.

I feel their needs to be more alternative forms of treatment, to help those who can not buy into the program. People need options and they need to find what works for them. I have always wanted to create such an alternative treatment center. Perhaps after I get The Bucket List Foundation going I will give that a shot.

My biggest complaint against the AA program is step one and two where you need to admit you are powerless and the only thing which will deliver you from this powerlessness is admitting and handing things over to a higher power. They need to instill into these people that they don’t need a higher power, they need to discover their own personal strength within themselves. Relying on some fairy tale creature simply does not work.

My other issue with the powerless statement is saying you can never touch another substance again. They teach if you do use, then you risk your life falling apart. This is a true and untrue statement. One of the things you do in treatment is identify your drug of choice. This drug of choice is your danger zone. Lets say your drug of choice is meth, this does not mean you can never have a drink.

It is about identifying your risk areas and making the choice to not go there. You also need to be aware of where you are. If you start to drink, you need to identify if and when it starts becoming a problem. If you notice this you need to make that choice to cease and desist you actions.

I am and always have been for the legalization of drugs. This would cure many of the things wrong with society, yes it would create some negatives, but they do not out weigh the positives. You would decrease prison population, and the destroyed lives over trying to survive with a felony on your record. The legalization of drugs, if run by the government would create an enormous amount of money. It is unbelievable that alcohol is legal, but marijuana is not. The negatives alcohol causes our society is no where near what marijuana does.

I do not think schools handle drug prevention in a proper way. If they tell kids all the propaganda about how marijuana is so horrible, then when the time comes they try it they realize they were told lies. If the time comes when they are offered stronger drugs, they will not believe what they were taught. It was “Basketball Diaries” which kept me from trying heroin. I saw what that drug did, and made the choice to not explore that. There is the word again “choice.” Everyone has that ability to make that choice. If they decide to smoke meth… well they deserve what ever comes next.

I will never judge someone for using drugs. I do not have an issue with it as long as this person is still able to contribute and properly function within the society. If they allow the drugs to control them, and they cease to be able to function then we have a problem. Everything we do or become in life is a result of our choices.

In the end people will use drugs whether they are legal or not. We will never win the drug war. We need better prevention and support to help those who have made a string of shitty choices.