Thursday, March 29, 2012

Am I Addicted To Alcohol Or Drugs?

To those of you that have already found a way to quit drinking or using, I have just one thing to say – congratulations! I’ll spend more time writing about you on another day. But today’s blog post is only for people currently struggling alone, quietly, in need of help. So move along, already recovering addicts, there’s nothing to see here.

There, I said it. Now that we have that settled, let’s talk about you, my actively drinking and/or using friend. Before we begin, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Although two decades have passed, I still remember how it felt to live in the grip of addiction like it was yesterday. Addicts and alcoholics exist in a strange kind of Netherworld – it’s like living in a bubble of loneliness you can’t punch your way through, no matter how hard you try. Even worse, no one around you understands what life inside the bubble feels like, or that the bubble even exists, unless they have a substance abuse problem of their own. Even addicts that know the bubble well don’t dare to talk about it with one another. The whole point of drinking or getting high is to escape unpleasant thoughts, after all. If you want to find yourself sitting alone at the bar, turn to your best drinking buddies sitting on either side of you and tell them you think you might have a problem. In about two seconds, they’ll suddenly spot a friend across the bar they’ve been meaning to catch up with, grab their drink and run for their lives. That’s just how drunks and druggies roll. 

Every addict knows about the bubble. It's a great place to hide out from the rest of the world. Well, until you're tired of living in one and try to find a way out of it, at least. 
trapped in a bubble

If you want to know whether or not you might have an addiction problem, you’ve come to the right place. I was quite the accomplished addict in my day and got my masters degree in hitting bottom the old-fashioned way – I earned it. But, before I share my prestigious credentials with you, here’s a little hint – if you think you might have a problem, you probably do. Admitting it to ourselves is the first step, but we’ll get to that on another day. You have to be aware there’s a problem before you can fix one.

So, what are some signs we might be addicted to booze or drugs?

·   Family’s a good place to start – while most friends will tell you anything you want to hear in order to avoid hurting your feelings, most family members are more than happy to tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Some family members even take pleasure from it. Do those closest to you tell you that you’ve changed and ask what’s wrong with you? Do you resent them for it and start avoiding family gatherings because you think it’s them that has the problem, not you? Or do you find that the only time you feel comfortable even being around them is when you’re drunk or high?
·   Ever run into an old, non-partying friend on the street that you hung out with when you were younger? Have any of them ever stared at you oddly, as if they don’t really recognize the former friend they used to know? Did you gradually lose touch with them over time because they stopped getting high and you didn’t?
·   Does a silent alarm clock ring in your head around the same time every day, alerting you that it’s beer o’clock? Do you spend most of your day at work or school thinking about getting wasted later?
·   And how about that bubble I mentioned earlier? Do you feel like a stranger living in your own skin? Is there a silent scream whispering in your ear telling you that you’re trapped in a bubble and you need to find a way out? I spent many years trying to drown that voice with another drink or joint, but never could shut it up for long. The voice has an annoying habit of screaming at the worst of times. Mine used to jerk me out of a sound sleep and scream in my ear at around 3 or 4 a.m. The message was always the same – you better change your life, unless you want to die!
·   Have you tried following the voice’s advice and decided to quit drinking or using on your own, but fallen back into the same old routine time after time, no matter how hard you try?
·   When was the last time you felt truly happy and content? When was the last time you felt anything at all, apart from silent desperation and an empty, hollow numbness? 

If these symptoms sound familiar, you might just have an addiction problem. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and guarantee you that you are, indeed, an addict or alcoholic.

That’s the bad news. The good news is there’s a way out of the bubble and you’ve come to the right place to find it. Take a little time to review the signs of addiction, mull them over, and ask if they apply to you. If the answer is yes, come on back tomorrow and we’ll talk some more.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Spiritual Experience Described.

During my time in rehab, we didn't spend much time talking about AA's Big Book. In fact, we didn't discuss it at all. Instead, our counselor handed us a one page, printed copy of the 12 Steps and said little more before returning to our daily, seemingly endless group therapy sessions. When he kicked me out of rehab on the 27th day of a 30-day program for not "getting with the (AA) program", all I took home were the visions of relapse and an early grave he predicted my future held and that one page, tattered copy of the 12 Steps. Dying before age 40 didn't seem all that appealing, so I sat down and narrowed the 12 Steps down to the 3 Steps that promised to remove the urge to drink, which was stronger than ever. The monkey was digging his claws into my back hard at the time I needed him gone THEN. A couple of weeks later, a life-changing, life-saving, soul-changing spiritual experience occurred, as described below.

It must have been the fifteenth or sixteenth night when the miracle happened. My routine had been the same that night as all the others. I started the night using the 3 Steps, as usual, asking humbly and sincerely, without fail. This ritual was repeated many times each night with a few short breaks in between. During those breaks, I’d talk to my Higher Power in a more casual way, describing how my addiction felt like a dark cloud, confiding my fears, and asking for help in overcoming both. This monologue had gone on for two weeks straight and I was starting to wonder if it was a waste of time. Somewhat frustrated, I started to ask myself if He was even listening. I never got the chance to finish the question. Out of the blue something jolted me, causing my entire body to shake and jerk. Every muscle clenched and released, repeatedly and uncontrollably, as if some invisible giant was grabbing me by the belt, lifting ninety percent of my body off the bed and slamming me back down. My chest constricted and my legs flailed, thrusting my chest upwards and releasing me again, which must have resembled a seizure. The movements knocked the breath out of me, which was frightening at first. But as the experience continued my fear was replaced with an energy I’d never felt before. Soothing waves of incredibly powerful warmth and love pulsed through my body, dissolving the fear and tensions I’d carried for so many years. It felt as if God had walked into the room, laid both hands on me, and penetrated my body and soul with some kind of divine electricity. I laid back and went along for the ride, alternately feeling like I’d stuck my finger in an electrical outlet and flopping limp back into my pillow. I can only describe the feeling as having been ZAPPED with the most amazing energy on earth, and for which there are no words. It felt like love multiplied by infinity. The experience lasted for somewhere between 15-20 minutes. When it ended, I felt both exhilarated and exhausted. Within minutes, exhaustion won out and I fell into a deep sleep. When I woke the next morning my addiction was gone. The intense cravings that had driven me to drink for more than twenty years had vanished and haven’t returned even once in eighteen years.

I’m not quite sure what happened that night, but one thing is certain. A miracle took place. No doubt exists in my mind that a Higher Power not only heard my plea for help, but reached out and healed my soul. Love walked in, grabbed my addiction by the scruff of its dirty neck, and marched it out the door. The inner turmoil and tension that had lived within me for most of my life evaporated in an instant and were replaced by a quiet calmness and inner peace, which remain to this day. Because this experience was deeply private and personal, I rarely talk about it and have never described it in full detail, until now. The reason for my reluctance has been because it’s difficult to believe in miracles unless you’ve experienced one of your own. Another reason I’ve avoided talking about the experience is because mentioning God, or a Higher Power, could be considered too “preachy” by some. Unfortunately, the only way to describe the experience is by telling it exactly as it happened. It is as it is. Whether or not anyone else believes a spiritual healing actually occurred is their own choice. The fact that the word miracle exists certainly suggests that inexplicable events have occurred throughout history. Some might choose to view my experience as self-hypnosis, or even temporary insanity, spurred by desperation. To me, it really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that it worked. My addiction was instantly and permanently erased, which was a true miracle, regardless how it came to be. 

I only recently learned that Bill Wilson and other founding members of AA wrote about their own experiences, claiming they were cured of addiction through a spiritual awakening with a Higher Power. I know their message completely contradicts the "forever recovering, incurable disease" mentality that so many have been taught in today's AA. But, I also know that Bill, Bob, and the others knew what they were talking about and that AA's original message was (and still is) the correct one. Anyone willing to believe in a power greater than their own can receive the same cure... but only if they want to be cured, fully recovered addicts.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

3 Steps To Recovery Book Comments

3 Steps To Recovery was written with one purpose in mind - to bring AA's most important message to those people that you will not find in AA meetings, for one reason or another. While the book has received twelve 5 Star Reader Reviews on Amazon, thus far, some people send their reviews to me directly. Others send their comments indirectly, while incarcerated or while residing in a sober home, and have asked family members to pass them along. The following comments come from those currently serving prison sentences or those that have received the book as a "friend of a friend", while struggling alone with addiction. It's truly humbling and touching to know that the book is helping others.

From the son of a close friend living halfway around the world -

“Dan...I have just spent the last 4 hours crying, laughing and totally engrossed in your amazing book. Why I didn’t read it long ago, I will never know. Every word had me captivated to the end.
I am 7 days sober as I write this and have not felt as clear headed or more willing and ready to embrace the 3 steps than I am right now. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words and inspiration, as I am going to read it again very soon.”

A mom forwarded this one on behalf of her son, who is serving a jail sentence -

  “Hi! Just saw the son and he says you are one smart cookie! (My term, not his). He is in agreement with your writing and said the book is really well done. He is being transferred to the next leg of his journey and authorized me to pick up his meager belongings tonight as I left - says to tell you hi and that he is very grateful, in agreement with so much of what you write. I look forward to reading your book, which I brought home with me.”

Through a Facebook friend, who passed the book along to a close friend that has been struggling with alcoholism for many years - 

 “My friend has read your book he really liked it and he has started using the 3 Step method. He did mention that he never liked going to AA meetings because it was always the same people bragging about their drunks or highs.
He has seven days sober.

A woman living in Europe that had been addicted to drugs for 26 years - 

"The last time I cried over a book, a mother had lost her children, and now I’m crying over this one. Not because I feel sorry for anyone, but because of the love that speaks to me and puts things in perspective. I knew the answer all along and, then again, I didn’t. I know now that it is all up to me – that there is no one else to blame and yesterday I started meditating with a grateful heart. I feel connected to a higher power that is there for me. I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your book. It arrived three days ago – on the day that I most needed it. I will get back to you when I am not so overwhelmed and, perhaps, can give some better feedback. Right now I am just so filled with love and truth. Thank you, Dan. All my love to you and your family.”  

From a recovering addict who runs one of the largest recovery groups on Facebook -

 “Well, I have read the 3 Steps To Recovery book...I was very skeptical before reading it, but I believe my friend has nailed it down, for lack of a better term.   The 3 Steps Dan wrote about has simplified AA’s clear cut directions it takes so many of us years to find...and AA DOES STATE THEY DO NOT CORNER THE MARKET OF RECOVERY...WELL, THEY JUST MAY HAVE SOME REAL COMPETITION FROM THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK...CONGRATULATIONS, DAN!”

I believe in the 3 Steps approach with all my heart and soul. When I sat down to write 3 Steps To Recovery, my gut feeling was that the book could, and would, help to save lives, just as the 3 Steps had done for me. Knowing it's doing just that touches me in ways that cannot be put into words. Thank you, everyone, for the kind comments, positive feedback and wonderful support you've shared with me and others.

In order to promote the important message of the book, we are currently seeking people to post Reader Reviews of 3 STEPS TO RECOVERY on Amazon. In order to post an Amazon book review, readers must first purchase a copy through Amazon and so we are making a SPECIAL OFFER. Purchase the eBook version for $6.15 U.S.. If you like it as much as we think you will, post a 5 Star Reader Review, and we will send you a FREE, personalized paperback copy of 3 STEPS TO RECOVERY signed by Dan Farish, the author. To learn more, please visit