As an addict, I’m proud of the fact I no longer drink. Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going to be raving about the joys of sobriety and trying to get you to convert. The goal of this blog is to help you determine what kind of support you may need in order to overcome your own addictions.
As a disclaimer, I am not an addiction specialist. I’m just an expert in myself and the addictions I suffered from with my former way of living.
The purpose of this blog post is not to teach you how to overcome your addiction, it’s to help you identify your addictions, help you realize you can change them, and start you on the path of self betterment.
I hope my experience helps you find ideas to break those shackles for yourself.
And before you think something along the lines of ‘Oh I don’t have an issue with drugs or alcohol,’ remember, there are many forms of addictions. You might not abuse drugs or alcohol, but you could struggle from other version of addictions: working too much, gambling, sex, porn, social media, phones, television, hell, you can even be addicted to bad news.
I wonder if you could be addicted to taking pictures of your pets? Oh well, personal work for later.
This blog is for you, my fellow, functioning addict.
This blog is for you, the partier who drinks two bottles of wine a night, or who can use cocaine - ‘recreationally’ - on weekends.
This blog is for you, who is hiding behind your career, using the guise of ‘Proud Workaholic’ because it's the only place that makes you feel worthy.
This blog is for you, the one who can’t end the day without some sort of buzz or has to numb out to get through a shift. You may not be a traditional addict, but your use has exceeded healthy parameters.
What is your vice of choice?
Don’t keep reading yet: I mean it. Reflect on and answer the question. What is your drug of voice: alcohol, narcotics, cannabis, your phone, approval, Netflix, sex, gambling?
Addiction is tough on everyone: those suffering with the addiction and those who love them.
A friend of mine who went through AA a couple decades ago said something that stayed with me forever and I’d like to share it with you.
There are 3 types of addicts.
Type 1: The Hero - Stops the first time they attempt to stop
Type 2: The Relapser - Relapses a few times before finally stopping for good
Type 3: The Lifer - Dies before they stop
Can you see any of these tendencies in yourself?
I can for sure see pieces of all of them in me.
Actually, a better way to put it might be that I can see all of them as a noose, slowly strangling me at different points in my life.
As I started to breathe again, I realized I didn’t want to be the Lifer, and I certainly wasn’t the Hero. My addictions held too much power over me at that time. So, that left the Relapser.
It took a lot to get me to where I am now, sober minded and chasing dreams that don’t involve vices. I wasn’t always sure I would make it. In fact, there were times I wasn’t sure I wanted to let go of my vices.
During my journey - which we’ll get more into detail around over the next few weeks - a lot of questions kept coming up. Questions like:
How can someone just stop?
Why can one person quit smoking cold turkey and never look back, but another is covered in nicotine patches, munching nicotine gum until their jaw hurts and teeth ache, yelling at someone who dares to say “good morning”?
What gave some people the ‘strength’, ‘willpower’ or whatever-the-fuck to quit?
Why do addicts tend to shift from one addiction to another? Cocaine to coffee; heroin to cigarettes; cigarettes to sugar; alcoholism to workaholic martyrdom; childhood abuse to codependency, and many others.
Why could I easily stop some bad habits, but others were a lot more challenging?
Most of what I am sharing with you today comes from my own experience with addiction. I was the type who went from addiction to addiction.
… to a new addiction.
To yet another addiction.
You get the point.
Like most wide-ranging issues, addiction is vastly complex. At different times of our lives, it's not always easy to find the roots of addiction, which makes breaking those habits that much harder. A lot of different elements can lead someone to addiction. These elements can be psychological, sociological, economic, and genetic.
One thing is for sure though, no one has ever honestly said: “you know what, my life is amazing. I feel loved, connected, rich, and totally fun filled. I think it’s time to improve everything by picking up a cocaine habit.”
In my considerable experience, we usually stumble (or crash) into addictive habits because we need an escape from something, or we feel the dying urge to fill a space within ourselves. And it doesn’t matter what that thing is, we will escape or fill spaces with anything we can find.
When I started this blog, I thought it would help me to read, amass, and regurgitate all the facts and shit, but the word vomit was such dry toast I nodded off as I read what I wrote.
Let’s be real, I’m here to educate and entertain, not spew facts. If you're a just the facts ma’am kind of person, Google awaits you with ads to support your journey.
Facts are only fun when woven into reality.
The overarching patterns that continuously popped up in my research that manifested in my prior experiences are:
Ease of accessibility makes us more prone
It's basically impossible to stay sober and avoid alcohol when a bottle is in your kitchen; staring you down every night, begging for love.
Vices talk when we get close to them.
Strong drivers for addiction are low self-esteem or poor self image
Seeing ourselves as lesser or not being confident in who we are can lead us to use “tools” to help us in social situations, to let go, to connect, to belong. These ‘social lubricants’ make it easy for us to be around a lot of people, to be social, to have sex, and because of that, we can abuse them. We abuse them often because we see ourselves as unworthy, unloveable, or any combination of words like this.
What limiting belief holds you captive?
Vulnerable mental or physical state
Have you ever had a bad break up that led you right back to a toxic behavior? Had a bad week at work and thought just one glass of wine wouldn’t hurt? One glass soon turns into two, and before you know it, the bottle is gone.
These states are usually for the short term, however they can be a slippery slope to addiction.
Lack of education
This is not just the level of education you possess. Plenty of college grads do cocaine. I’ve done lines with a real estate mogul, a professional athlete, and a CEO. Addictions and addictive substances appeal to everyone.
Anyway, what I’m talking about is more of a lack of education around a particular type of substance. For example, most people didn’t realize the incredible addictive power of opiates until we suffered from our small issue that became a nationwide epidemic. Many of us now know how dangerous opiates can be and how it can ruin the lives of our loved ones.
Anything in excess controls us
Anything we do in excess, we do to numb ourselves out. These behaviors, when done in excess are not a treat. Repeated numbing for a prolonged period of time is addiction.
No amount of consumption can fill that inner void, it has to be dealt with in order to be released. Believe me, I have a Master’s degree in numbing out. That was like playing whack-a-mole with a ghost.
While I loath to put this here at the risk of it sounding like an excuse, it’s a lot easier to partake when it runs in the family. Addictions such as alcoholism, codependency, overachieving, and many others tend to run in families and are looked at as acceptable behavior.
When something is acceptable, or seen as normal in a family - such as smoking - it’s often passed down through the generations. Codependency is another that tends to run in many families until someone breaks that cycle. There’s also some discussion on whether genetics make us more prone to using.
Maybe you see yourself in some of these patterns. Perhaps you see yourself in none of them. Perhaps you see yourself in all of them.
Addiction is powerful. It’s hard to identify and accept when we’re captive inside of it. However, all of us have them, deep down. Not everyone struggles with alcohol. Some of us struggle with self worth or being able to sit in silence, some of us bring our phones with us in the bathroom and before we know it, we can’t feel our toes and an hour has passed.
The point is, we all struggle. We all have something in our lives that we do to cope, things we’re ashamed of, things we want to hide, or things we wish we could stop.
Whatever the case may be, you can find ideas to free yourself from your shackles.
I encourage you to either think (or journal) about your own addictions and vices. When doing this, be the observer and not the judge. The purpose of this is not to sentence yourself for life. The purpose is to notice your actions and change your relationship to those actions without judgment.
So, again, I ask you:
What is your vice of choice?
Don’t keep reading: I mean it. Reflect on and answer the question. What is your drug of voice: alcohol, narcotics, cannabis, your phone, approval, Netflix, sex, gambling? If you find yourself reluctant to answer, ask yourself why.
For the next several weeks, we will focus on addiction. Next week, I will share with you the numerous addictions I’ve struggled with and how I’ve overcome them by changing my relationship with my vices. I will also share what I learned, the results of my research and inner work, and how I overcame my addictions.