Bondage of Addiction

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A friend of mine once related to me how he got started doing drugs. One night he thought he would have some fun so he decided he would try meth.  The party was epic, he had a great time, and the night was a success.  All these years later he can point back to that one night that changed everything.  What started out as something he could control in an effort to have some fun slowly began taking control of certain areas of his life.  He became dominated.

Domination Process

Addiction Process

Experimental: In the experimental stage we are still in control.  We “Chose to use.”  We may just be curious.  We may use to rebel.  We may use in attempt to escape pain.

Occasional: In the occasional use stage we still has a level of control.  We use on occasion when it is convent.  Often tolerance is already beginning to build so it takes more of the drug to get the same effect.

Routine: In this stage the behavior becomes part of our lives.  We don’t see ourselves as addicts only as users.  We still believe we could quit at any time but we chose not to.  Here we begin to see the behavior affecting our lives.  Occasionally we will miss work or school, or get in trouble with our family.

Addiction: In an addiction we never or rarely pass up an opportunity to use.  More and more areas of our lives are affected by our use.  We go to great lengths to get what we need to feed our addiction.  We become inward focused and little else matters to us but the addiction.

Dependency: Our bodies are physically dependent on the effects of our compulsive behavior.  There are physical reactions if I don’t use.  Headache, nausea, tremors, sweats, stomach pain, depression, and fatigue are just some of the physical signs of withdrawal.  Often we will speak of, “Getting sick,” if I don’t use.  At this point using is just as much about not getting sick as it is about feeling some euphoric high.

What started out as something we control in an effort to have some fun, ease the pain, or find peace has become something that controls us. In this role reversal the addiction has become the master and we its slaves.  It dominates our thoughts and emotions.  We become angry, depressed, and anxious.  It dominates us physically, making us sick if we don’t get enough.  It begins to destroy our health.  It dominates us socially and steals away our love and our loved ones.

In Galatians 5:1 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  So, how about your life?  Does freedom or slavery best describe you?  Are you free from the power of addiction or are you dominated by it?  The good news is this, God never intended for us to live in bondage!  In recovery we look beyond what dominated us and focus on a renewed life.  The truth is Domination turns to Renewal as we discover a renewed purpose for our lives.  In my next post we will look at 5 new reasons to live beyond our addiction!

Action Step:

Write a brief summary of your story. Tell how you moved down the path of domination from experimental use to addiction and dependency.  Then write about how your addiction has dominated you emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually.

Do you have a story? We would love to hear it.  Why not share briefly in the comment section below?  You might just be an encouragement to someone in need.

Recovery Doesn’t Work!

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“Recovery Doesn’t Work!”

Ever hear someone say that?  Perhaps you’ve said it yourself.  It’s true; some methods are more helpful for one individual base on his or her exact needs, personality, and background than for another.  But, to say, recovery doesn’t work, is a kin to saying, this hammer doesn’t work, because it has been lying here all day and my picture still isn’t hung up.  The hammer works just fine the question is, are you really going to pick up the hammer and use it the way it was intended?  There is no perfect recovery program out there.  True some are better than others.  One thing they all have in common is they offer tools.  It is up to the individual weather or not he or she will use the tools they have been given to aid in their own recovery.

That is why I like step 4 of the 12 steps.  “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”  It is so easy to talk about recovery.  It is so easy to talk about ones feelings, and childhood.  It is easy to talk about triggers.  It is easy to talk.  Step 4 is where the rubber meets the road.  This is what we call a, “Treatment Method.”  This is something concrete you can do to aid in your recovery.  There are hundreds of tools out there.  Some may be more helpful for you where you are right now than others but, making a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself is a great place to start.

A moral inventory is simply a list of both the positive and negative attributes that make up who you are now.  This list may include resentments you have toward certain people or institutions.  This also may include a list of ways you have been selfish.  Some also include, “Unmanageable defects of character.”  These may include outbursts of uncontrolled anger, or the inability to tell the truth.  Many people will use a chart, or pick list like this one provided by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

step 4

Want to get serious about step four?  Here is what you do.  Make a list of as many negative traits as you can think of.  Here is where the word, Fearless, comes in.  It is often hard to admit to ourselves how negative, critical, and judgmental we have become.  Looking at ourselves critically is not always something we always do.  This may be a difficult step for some.  However, many have reported that using this simple tool has been a great help to them on the road to recovery.  To get started you might use the suggestions from recovery.org.  They give the following examples, “I lie to the people I care about, and it’s hurt them.  I am power hungry, and I boast about my achievements. I have alienated those around me by my selfishness.  I bring others down with my self-loathing and shame.  I am self-righteous and judgmental of others.  I am ill-tempered, and I have taken my anger out on my family and friends.”  Now, take what you see as your top 10 areas of weakness and write about how these negative traits led you to and keep you in your addiction.

Make a list of as many positive traits you can think of.  Ask a family member, close friend, and your sponsor to help you with this.  You might write things like, “I am committed to my children.  I have a fun personality and make friends easy.  I am a very detailed person.  I always try to keep the peace.”  Don’t rush through this.  Come up with as many as you can think of.  Next pick 10 of your best traits and write out how these positive traits will help you in your recovery.

This step will take some time.  I encourage you not to rush through it.  This is not just some chore to check off your to do list.  This is a tool that can help you for years to come.

The Apostle Paul said something very interesting in Philippians chapter three.  Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 3:12-14 ESV).  Paul was humble enough to realize he was not yet the perfect man God wanted him to be.  He said he focused on one thing- pressing on.  He knew one hindrance to living in God’s will for the presence is to live in the past.  A word of encouragement, as you do your moral inventory don’t  get too caught up focusing on the past.  The purpose of step four is not to remind you of all of the terrible things you have said and done.  It is simply to uncover the truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Remember, we learn from the past, we don’t live in it.

So, how about you?  What are some other tools, or treatment methods you use in recovery?  How has step 4 impacted your life?  I’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment in the Reply box below.

Holidays and Addiction

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Here is a friendly reminder of something you probably know well…

When I do a Treatment Summery for my clients who are getting ready to leave the program I will ask them to list some of the emotional, circumstantial, social, and environmental triggers they will face.  One of the most constant answers I hear from clients is that the holiday’s are particularly challenging.  This makes so much sense.

First of all the holidays are stressful on almost all of us. Sometimes the best and worst part of the holidays is that you get to see your family.  Broken family relationships can be a huge stress lead one to or keeping on in an addiction.

Second, holidays are often celebrated with some sort of party. For many a party is a chance to get drunk or high.  Going to a holiday party for these individuals can be on big trigger.  Seeing others drink or use drugs can be a huge trigger, even if the individual in recovery does not intend to use.

Third, the holidays can actually be a very sad time. For many the holidays are a reminder of the family or loved ones they lost to addiction or because of their own addiction.  The holidays are a painful reminder of what they have lost.  Often addicts and those in recovery are tempted to use in an effort to mask the pain of the holidays.

If you are in recovery I want to encourage you to stay safe over the Memorial Day weekend. Make a preplan of what you will do for a healthy pursuit of love, joy, and peace outside of your addiction.  If you love someone who struggles pleas keep in mind that the holidays can be very tough.  Give your loved one a call.  Invite them over.  Consider not serving alcohol at your family get together as to not be a trigger for those in recovery.  Finally pray.  Pray for those for whom the holidays are a great challenge.

We would love to hear from you!  What are some healthy ways you handle the stress of holidays?  Leave a comment in the, “Reply,” section below.  Have a safe and Happy Memorial day.

Words from an Inmate

A man came into the counselor’s office this morning and asked if he could read a poem he had written about the pain of addiction. He began to read:

Mom, dad, wife, & children too

Everyone I love, seems I hate them too

Running from home, spinning out of control

Coming back around with holes in my soul

A smile played all over my face

Choking back tears within their embrace

Destroying my home, steeling their hope

What right, I ask, did I ever have

By lying & steeling all they ever had

It’s funny now, through all of my schemes

They’re still holding on to all of my dreams

Love, hope, family, & home

All I gave up just to get stoned

Maybe I’ll wake up and get this thing right

Maybe I won’t & be high tonight

Pathetic addiction & choices I’ve made

Take me from home & close to the grave

Running in circles then back again

One last chance not to die in my sin

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10 ESV).