In recovery, our early delight at feeling better and a burning desire to spread the word can lead to what I call the Guru Syndrome (GS). The GS can stem from a sincere desire to help others, but it can also hide a profound fear of getting the help we need for ourselves. Continue reading
By most definitions, the term dry drunk refers to someone who is not acting out, but has failed to do the work that leads to recovery. A dry drunk is like a man crawling across a desert, depressed, angry, and craving the water that he won’t allow himself to drink.
Sobriety is about replacing the thinking and behavior of an addict with that of a sober person. The damage that alcohol and other drugs facilitate is in the form of emotional, physical and spiritual harm, as well as severe damage to externally visible things such as relationships, attitudes, work, and legal problems. Continue reading
The issue of religion arises at least once a month at any 12-step meeting that includes people. It’s amazing how it causes confusion. Some folks claim that you have to believe in God, while others say all you have to do is admit you aren’t Him. Others, myself among them, maintain that the spirituality aspect of the program has nothing to do with God unless we choose to make it so. Only one thing’s for sure: put two alcoholics or other addicts in the same room and it will soon be overflowing with opinions. Continue reading
Close to thirty years ago I checked into treatment for my alcoholism and addiction to other drugs. It was a terrific relief.
I’d known for a long time that I was an alcoholic. I was essentially unaware of AA and its purpose, or that there were effective treatments for addictive disease. I wasn’t entirely unaware, because I’d been dealing with drunks and addicts for years as a police officer. It had simply managed to escape me that AA and other programs were anything other than a place to dump problems that turned up back on the street later.
By the time my boss more-or-less forced me into treatment, I’d had most of the jackpots: divorce, foreclosures, evictions, loss of other people’s money as well as tons of my own, estrangement from relatives — all the fun things that we addicts collect along the way to perdition. My denial about my surface problems was pretty weak, and it didn’t take much for me to become accepting about treatment, then hopeful, and then enthusiastic. I ended up damned grateful to the Chief of Police and whoever advised him about how he should deal with his relatively high-ranking and increasingly visible problem.
So I got sober and became a credit to my mother, my school, my family, my country and all that good stuff. I worked in the recovery field. I talked recovery. I even became a bit of a recovery guru, writing about addiction on my own and for treatment facilities that needed a down-to-earth approach to some of their material. But to a great degree I was a fraud, and I didn’t even know it.
I think of this as Gratitude Day. (No, I’m not making a list.) Six years ago today it was forcefully brought to my attention that, after 23 years of thinking otherwise, I was not really sober.
I stopped using substances in September of 1989. It was easy. I detoxed in a treatment facility and hit the ground running. For many years I wondered why it had been so easy for me and difficult for many others. Sometimes I felt a little embarrassed that I couldn’t come up with any white-knuckle recovery stories. (There were plenty from “back in the day,” because I was unquestionably an addict.) Other times I fell into the trap of comparing rather than relating, feeling superior rather than examining the reality of my so-called “sobriety.” Continue reading