Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

I am a firm believer that addiction is a disease, scientific, and medical evidence shows this to be true, and a lot of people gives this as an excuse to start using again.  We all heard this before, “I am powerless over my addiction” “I have to give my sobriety over to a higher power” etc.

Doesn’t this set you up for failure from the beginning? Hey I am powerless over my addiction, so therefore if I use it isn’t so bad, because my addiction controls me. What about trusting in a higher power to guide you through the craving, and the craving doesn’t go away? What now? I for one will get angry, and emotional therefore setting me up for a relapse, because I won’t be thinking rationally anymore, I will be acting on impulse.

While we are addicted to substance, our ability to choose is compromised. We are incapable to make the right choices, the level of thought processing in our brains doesn’t function correctly, and as I explained before the drug becomes the most important thing in our lives. It becomes all what we live for, all that we think about.

As my journey in recovery continues, I have come to realization that addiction isn’t a terminal lifelong disease. It is curable. It transcends from a disease of the mind, born out of choice, back to choice.  Why should I tell myself that I am addict, if I am clean, and not addicted anymore?  I am back in control of my thought processes, and I can make the right choices, knowing the implications, and consequences that would follow if I decide to use again. How can that be attributed to a disease? That sounds to me like a behavioural decision, does it not?

If craving is a symptom of the disease, and I choose not to act on the craving, doesn’t the craving go away? Yes it does? I made a choice right? No the diabetic can’t make a choice for their symptoms to go away, they have to be medicated to relieve the symptoms.  If the addict medicates himself because of a craving, that is called relapse, is it not?  There are medications that reduce cravings, and should be taken, but they aren’t available for all types of substances, and what about gambling, sex, and other behavioural addictions? They crave as much as substance dependent addicts. The need to make a choice to change, to overcome, and resist a craving.

Recovery for me so far has been a sequence of trial, and error. I know that I haven’t got all the answers. I know that recovery is different from one person to the next. The one thing I know is this: I am in control of my own actions, and choices.  Me, and only me can choose whether I want to act on an impulse, or a craving.

I have the freedom to choose. I am not powerless over the substance anymore, and I don’t have to relinquish my control over to a higher power. I will not brand myself as an addict anymore, someone with an incurable disease. Remember you are what think you are. If you think of yourself as an addict for the rest of your life, that’s exactly what you will be. If you believe that you aren’t in control of your own life, then you will never be.

Addiction changes the way we think, it creates neuro pathways, reinforced by repetition. Humans are creatures of habit. If we find that something works, or we enjoy it, we do it again, and again. Change for us is difficult, because by nature we are scared of the unknown. It’s a normal human reaction, which forms an integral part of us, which has insured our species survival.

The difference between normal habits, and addiction is that, addiction creates a much stronger, and much deeper neuro pathway, which in turn is very difficult to undo. The biggest step is the will to change.  Then you have to teach your mind, by repetition other ways to cope with stress, emotions etc. When you can control your thought processes, and think rationally, and logically, then you won’t relapse, will you? Does this mean you can have one drink? No. Does this mean you can still go out with your old friends that used with you? No.  Any mind altering substance, it doesn’t matter if it’s not your drug of choice, will interrupt your thought process, and will cause you to lose control.

The same with old friends. What was your connection in the past? The substance. Will that change. No. Your mind will associate them with the substance for the rest of your life. Do you really want to place yourself in a situation where your mind, starts to think about the substance (this can happen sub-consciously), only by association, and then its thoughts are being reinforced by suggestions, and repetition?  You will relapse. It doesn’t matter who you are. 

Doesn’t this proof then that addiction is a terminal disease then? Doesn’t this show that you are powerless over addiction?  No. When you end up in a situation like that, it’s your own fault. You knew that by going back to old friends, and places will reinforce your old habits again. Whose fault is it then that you used? The disease? God? No. Want to take a guess? YOU! Your choice.

So my point is this. Most of us chose to use drugs, we didn’t choose to become addicted, we chose to get stop using, and/or get help.  When we relapse, we choose to use again.  Cravings can be intense yes, but the choice will always be ours to act out on them. While were addicted, we have a disease. After that we have choice.

To argue that addiction is a lifelong disease, is like telling someone that they don’t have free will, and by taking away free will, we take away one of the main things that make us human. What is the main argument in addiction? It’s the choice vs. disease argument. Both sides have strong valid arguments. How I see addiction is that’s it’s a mixture of choice, and disease. The addict must be treated like any other patient. Like I said before, he may have chosen to use drugs, but he didn’t chose to get addicted.

Denying an addict professional medical treatment is inhumane. He made a wrong choice. Show me anyone that hasn’t. When someone gets injured while doing mountain biking, or snowboarding, they get treatment. When others sleep around, and get an STD they get treatment. Why not addicts? The choice argument has caused countless addicts trying to get help great suffering, because addiction was seen only as a behaviour disorder.

The disease argument in turn, while giving us the benefits of medical care, has made addicts believe that their disease is permanent. That in turn degrades us, and give us something else to blame when we relapse.

There has to be a balance. We need to take responsibility for our own lives, our choices, our minds.

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We always underestimate the power of suggestion.  Just by saying a word, or a phrase at the right time, and reinforcing it with certain techniques, and gestures could change a person’s way they act, and react to circumstances later on.

I watched a show last night, where complete, non-religious Atheist had a full blown conversion experience, by suggestion.  God wasn’t mentioned once. Certain psychological techniques were used, to plant feelings of love, empathy, sympathy etc. She described what she felt was “Supernatural”, and remember this women is a stem cell scientist with no religious beliefs what so ever.  She was still confused a week later, and only when the presenter explained to her what happened was her mind put to ease.

Placebos is another form of suggestion.  A lot of patients has unknowingly benefited from taking placebos for certain medical conditions. After they were informed that they had in fact taken a placebo, the positive result remained.

The result of how powerful suggestion is speak for themselves. Now what if we can train ourselves, by certain cues, or reminders to evoke a positive response every time we start to crave, or when we get over emotional?

I have come to realize that the human mind is a vast undiscovered place, a place where anything is possible. The human psyche is open to all forms of suggestion. The positive, and the negative.  There is still a lot more we need to understand, and learn about the human mind, and consciousness. I believe that, once we understand the mind, we will understand ourselves, and once we understand ourselves, all the questions regarding what makes us human will be answered.

At the moment we are controlled by our mind, not the other way around.        

One of the things I have learned is to always see the good, and the beautiful in everything, and everyone.

We have to train minds to do this.  It’s a very difficult thing to do.  The normal human response would be to see the faults in others.  Not because we are bad human beings, but because we project our own insecurities on others.  This is a defence mechanism. It’s a way for us to feel better about ourselves, in that given moment.

When we start to focus on the positives of others, we automatically begin to focus on the positives in ourselves.  When we see the positives in ourselves, we start to love ourselves, when we start to love ourselves, other will love us to. When others love us, they will start to focus on our positives, therefore changing their mind set, and outlook about themselves.

So you see by just changing our own thinking pattern, from negative to positive, we can have a huge impact. Not only on ourselves but on all those around us.  To see everything in a positive light reduces stress, depression, and fatigue.

A positive mind set attracts positive people. In recovery we need to let go of the things, and people in the past that we used to drink, and drug with.  You will be surprised to see how fast you will get new, clean positive friends when your mind set, and actions only reflects positivity.

What do you have to lose?  

Being a recovering addict is a blessing for me.  The disease keeps me humble, it shows me my strengths and weaknesses.

I am thankful for everyday that I am clean.  I became a much wiser person whilst battling this disease.  I have learnt to be humble, I have learnt to forgive, and most of all I have learnt to be thankful.  I have seen things, experienced things few people have.  I have learnt to look past the outside of a person, and look into their heart.  Everybody wants a sense of belonging, and acceptance.  Everyone needs love. 

We live in a broken world. People are being used, and things are loved.  Addiction is one of the ways to escape the harsh realities of life. But addiction also enslaves us. It takes away our homes and, loved ones.  It takes away our soul. Addiction is a lie. It gives us a false sense of security.  Addiction gives us a false sense of belonging, and acceptance. Addiction brings likeminded individuals together.  For the first time we are accepted, by others.  This makes us think that we are right, and society is wrong.  We believe that we are a minority group fighting for equal rights, with the majority.

Everything unravels fairly quickly.  After a while addiction isolates us. After we alienate our loved ones, and others that truly care for us, our new so called friends also disappear. That leaves us alone, and feeling hopeless.  We try to use more drugs, to try and take away the pain.  Which only brings on more, and more misery in our lives.  It’s a spiral with only three outcomes.  Death, incarceration, and if we are of the lucky few, rehab or institution.  Every time we relapse we get back into the spiral of death.  ‘’insanity is trying to do the same thing over, and over and expecting a different result’’.

Now in Recovery I see things differently. Other things are more important to me.  Not things, but people. My heart goes out to addicts.  I know there pain.  I understand their plight. I see the person behind the addiction.  No one wants to be addicted.  No one wants to be distrusted, and labelled by society.  No one wants to be slaves, and out of control.  The lost needs to be shown hope, love and, forgiveness.  Not hate, and rejection.

Addiction taught me valuable lessons in life.  Although it all came at great cost, I believe it has made me a better person.  I am going to give back to society.  I want to share my story with others, and maybe just, maybe.  Others can find hope again.  In themselves, and others.       

How many of us have been in romantic relationships in the past, where one, or both of us use drugs?  I have had a couple of them in the past, and what was the outcome? Heartbreak! I know there are couples who overcame their addiction together, but in most cases it usually ends up in heartbreak.  Either one quits, and the other one doesn’t and we break up, or life becomes so unmanageable, that we start hating, and blaming each other for everything that’s wrong, and we break up.

Like any relationship there will always be problems when more than three people are involved.  Like I mentioned in one of my previous post I regard the drug as romantic relationship as well.  The drug in 99% of the time becomes the most important thing in a relationship.  When the focus shifts from your partner to anything else, the relationship is doomed.  A drug relationship is a co-dependence relationship.  Both partners use each other to get the drug.  It may be for financial, living, or psychological reasons.  We don’t stay with each other for love anymore, we don’t stay with each other out of choice. We stay because we have to stay.

I have heard boyfriends pimping out there girlfriends for the drug, boyfriends steeling and robbing to support their, and their girlfriend’s habit.  Where is the love in that?  That isn’t love. That is co-dependency in its harshest form.  This is an extreme example, not all drug relationships take this route, but non-deles this happens.  The drug becomes everything, morals, love, respect, trust.  All are lost.

No matter how much family, or friends plead with both partners to break up. For the sake of their sobriety. It will always fall on deaf ears. Out of fear of losing their partner.  This is not to be confused with love.  We are scared, to lose control. We are scared to face the world outside alone.  “Maybe we are scared to do drugs alone from now on”.  I don’t know? It’s difficult for me to think why I stayed in the relationship now that I am sober.

Then there is always the times when we both got sober.  The feelings of love for each other returned.  We decided that we will do things differently.  We will give each other support in recovery. Together we can do this!  Given the nature of this disease it almost never works that way.  How can you possibly be with the person you used to use with?  The drug “hyper memories”, the cravings will be a hundred times worse.  Every time you see your partner, memories of using return.  Not the negative memories.  As the brain searches for instances in the past that huge dopamine spikes occurred, all it finds is when we used drugs, and it places a positive connotation, or memory with it.  In the end one of the partners will fall, and it won’t take long for both to start using again.

To break up at the best of times is heart-breaking, but we have to.  For the sake of your own sobriety, and that of your loved one.  If you really love someone, you will have their best interests at heart.  You will let them go. In the long run both of you will thank each other.  If you want to stay sober.  You will have to let go.  If you really want a new life, you’ll have to start everything from anew.

Forgive and move on.

Overthinking something for me in any case always leads to regret.  Overthinking plans, situations, circumstances or the past, or the future.  Thinking of what I could’ve had, should have, and are going to have.  Thinking too much about recovery, of what I should do to stay sober. Who, and what I need to cut from my life, or bring into my life. 

I realized something this week.  I need to make a decision, and stick by it.  I am not talking about rash, impulsive decisions, no.  Think, Act, Do.  To ponder about something only brings stress.  Forget the past, live for the moment.  Realize that the decisions we make today will have consequences later on.  Good or bad.  If you can’t change a something, move on, accept it.  There is no point in worrying about something you can’t change.  There is no point at staying cross at someone.  Forgive them and move on, or ship out.

Plan your life, yes.  Try to stick with it as much as possible.  Don’t make your plan over complicated.  Use small, short term, achievable goals. If we follow a plan it reduces stress.  If you fail a goal.  Don’t overthink where you went wrong.  Try it again differently.  Recovery needs to be kept as simple as possible.  Like everything in life.  If we focus too much on recovery. All the other things in our lives will progress very slowly which in time will cause more stress, which in the end will cause us to relapse.  Therefore we need balance.

Recovery is hard enough as it is, why complicate, overthink, and stress about it all the time.  THINK, DO, ACT. Try to simplify your life. You will see, when your life is easier to manage, managing your addiction becomes easier.

This week I had allot of feelings of frustration, and anxiety.  Allot had to do with feelings of disappointment towards my brothers.  I am a very positive person by nature, but it’s hard to stay positive around negative people.  It’s hard enough to try and stay and stay sober with support from family, and friends.  Can you imagine how hard it is when one of your family members uses Drugs, and comes over to your house? He knows that I am trying to stay of drugs, but he still persists on using.  It’s if he wants me to fail.  He has always been jealous of me.  When I was using he had someone to blame everything on.  He talked so much crap behind my back to everybody.  Of course they believed him. I was the one using drugs, I was the one that caused all the shit.  Back at the ranch, he was using just as much as me, and no one noticed.  All their anger, and judgment was directed at me. 

So I decided to get clean, and I did.  I haven’t looked back since.  Yes, I crave but I manage it.  I am productive, busy learning again, busy with a new website.  He fears that I would have success.  So he tries to get me back there.  Back in the same shitty position as before.  I will not go back, I want a new life.  The way he acts on drugs, the way he acts when he is coming down, actually disgusts me, and I feel sorry for him at the same time.  He is a reminder to me, how I was, how I could be.  That thought alone, puts me of using.  I will never again be like that.  I will be in control of my life.  I will never, ever again let something control me. 

So I will keep strong, be positive, and keep strong in my fight with addiction.  I love my new life right now, and nothing, or no one, will compromise that. Remember no matter what happens in your life, good or bad.  Stay positive, be thankful, and be humble.  Never be too proud to ask when you need help, always help if it’s in your power to do so.  Be thankful for everyday that you are sober, because there are many out there, who isn’t as fortunate as you.

There will always be those that will try to bring you down. Stay strong.  They are afraid of what you might become. They are afraid of being left behind.