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I was introduced to sobriety before I was legally allowed to drink. After a string of alcohol related arrests, it was suggested that I change my ways if I wished to maintain my freedom. Naturally, I did not think such an experience would be conducive to the maintenance of my fairly liberal drug and alcohol regiment, so in the interest of self-preservation I enrolled in a 6-week intensive outpatient program. Armed with the right knowledge, I thought that I could outsmart my rather precarious circumstance and continue living the rather laissez-faire life to which I had become accustomed. I was wrong, and it took another four family-wrenching years, tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and several stints in treatment of varying length and intensity to discover that my problem was my own best reasoning and that there was no way for me to think my way into right action.
Circumstance was the reason I had found myself staring at a Driving While Intoxicated, Public Intoxication, and Possession of Controlled Substance charges. I didn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol. I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people on several successive occasions. Or, so I thought. But, equipped with what I thought an above average intellect I would be able to reason my way into a less conspicuous lifestyle. To my great fortune, reason didn’t require complete or partial abstinence from drugs and alcohol. I had already been able to survive several years at a fairly prestigious public university while exerting minimal amounts of effort and acquiescing the courts couldn’t require any more “cunning” than I had already put on display.
Ego fairly intact, I set about my plan to play a shell game with my friends, hangouts, and drugs of choice. And, it kind of worked. Charges came and went, and I was somehow able to avoid the serious threat of jail in my uniquely oblivious way until I hit 24. Coming into the tail end of a year where I had been to jail on 8 different occasions, I was finally forced into a place where I knew that I couldn’t think my way into right action. Humiliated, powerless, and teetering on the edge of family-less, I was finally able to concede that my sick mind couldn’t heal itself and that I must stop philosophizing my disease if I had any desire to save my family and freedom. Circumstance wasn’t my problem. I was my problem, and the only solution would come from outside of my mind.
Having admitted that I was powerless to think my way out of addiction, I was ready to ask for help. But where, and who would have the patience to listen to a self-centered, self-righteous windbag like me? I thought back to my first time in treatment, before I had begun to manipulate the day-in, day-out of cognitive behavioral therapy, and it hit me. During all my years of moral failing and reckless disregard, the answer had been sitting right beneath my nose. If I needed a solution outside of my understanding, I had to get outside of my understanding. Put faith in someone or something else whose wisdom far exceeded anything that might exist within the confines of my mind.
Many find the answer in a Higher Power – God, Allah, HP, or Whatever. The name you assign to her is a matter of personal preference. The point is that there is some power greater than our selves, our finite understanding that can guide us towards the right action. Naturally, right action turns into right thinking and we are that much closer to overcoming the disease of addiction.
If you’re not into the God thing, search for answers in people that have what you want. Having admitted powerlessness over drugs and alcohol, it is often best to find a solution to our maladjusted thoughts in the wisdom of those who are currently trudging the road to happy sobriety. Many believe that it may be best to seek guidance from those who have been on this journey for a substantial amount of time, but if such a person is not available than a couple of years in active recovery is a good place to start. The savvy-minded individual with commitment issues might also find comfort in a group of similarly oriented folks. Perhaps, such a solution can be found in a group of Alcoholics Anonymous.
In certain situations, it may be wise to seek formal treatment if medical care is needed as we find the right piece of mind to receive the wisdom that the universe may provide. There are many routes to treatment, with many options available to those with limited resources – financial, time, or otherwise.
Addiction isn’t a life sentence, and there are many ways to solve the problem of drug or drink. But it is fairly safe to say that any lasting solution will require us to abandon our reliance upon self and find help in someone or something outside and above our limited understanding.