Friday, April 13, 2012

Push-Ups In The Parking Lot

Alcoholics Anonymous members have invented many wise, witty, and well-intentioned expressions over the years.

A few of my personal favorites include fake it ‘til you make it, stinking thinking, and take what you need and leave the rest. These are especially helpful for the newcomer to recovery. While guilty of the first two in my early recovery days, the third was especially helpful and was, by far, the easiest to apply.

On the other hand, there were some that sounded like fingernails on the blackboard at the time and will make me cringe at the mere thought of them. The first one that makes me want to track down the originator with a paint ball gun is the guy that came up with this one – Your addiction is doing push-ups in the parking lot

Translation? While every AA member remains safe within the walls of a meeting, his or her addiction is not only hiding in the shadows, but is becoming hungrier by the day. This so-called helpful advice is another way of saying, “Be careful, little Red Riding Hood, the wolf is just outside the door waiting to devour you. You better lock the door and stay inside with us, where it’s safe, unless you want to become Satan’s next breakfast burrito." 

I have just one comment for those that spout this slogan – STOP IT!

Why does this well-intended, yet misguided bit of recovery advice make me want to toss my cookies? Simple. It’s because that type of message is designed to instill fear into the hearts of people, which is the exact opposite of faith

You know, the same faith that is required to bring about the spiritual healing that removes the desire to drink. 
The same spiritual healing that Bill Wilson and the other AA founders wanted to share with struggling alcoholics. 
The same spiritual healing that inspired the 12 Steps to be written. 
The same 12 Steps that both inspire and require faith in the lives of those that choose to apply them. The same faith that leads to a spiritual awakening and assures those of us that have experienced one that we need never fear our addiction again.

For those that have learned to replace fear with faith and were cured of all desire to drink or use, as a result, there IS no disease doing push-ups in the parking lot. But if there were one, it would be walking around in circles looking for its head after a Higher Power ripped him a new one. That’s what a sudden, intense spiritual awakening does to addiction.

Please allow me to don my Captain Obvious outfit for a moment.

If you’re living in fear of addiction, especially if you’ve been attending meetings for longer than three months, you’ve got AA’s original program bass ackwards. The original message was, and is, that a spiritual awakening will cure you of addiction. Those that have experienced their own (and there are many) will tell you the same.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Are You Addicted? A Simple Question To Ask Yourself.

In my last blog post, I wrote about some of the warning signs that indicate you might be addicted to alcohol or drugs. If you think you might have an addiction problem, then today’s post is written you in mind.

The first step in solving any problem is realizing there is one. It sounds simple enough, right? You identify a problem and then fix it. But, when dealing with addiction, it’s also the hardest thing to accept. No one wants to admit they have become a slave to drugs or alcohol. None of us like to think that our life has spun out of control, even as we watch it fall to pieces around us. We all want to think we can somehow learn to control our drinking or using, like normal people. The truth is, no addict ever used alcohol or drugs as a recreational hobby. From the first time we experienced that first rush, we were hooked, even though many of us didn’t realize it at the time. If you’re one of those people that thought they’d died and gone to heaven the first time you got drunk or high, then you’re one of us. That first buzz feels like nothing else and it’s a feeling we try to recapture again and again over the years. Forget about that magic ever coming back, though. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good, no matter how much we try to get it back.

How will you know when booze or drugs have become too big a problem for you to handle on your own? Here’s the simple answer to the title of this post – when the pain of drinking or using has become greater than the pleasure you get from them, but you still do them anyhow, you are addicted. There are no ands, ifs, or buts about it. Sure, we can tell ourselves that our current troubles are just a run of bad luck or a fluke, but if those problems are directly (or indirectly) related to substance abuse, we’re only kidding ourselves. 

am I addicted

Anyhow, that’s the thought for today. Don’t over analyze it, justify it, or bury your head in the sand. Just look in the mirror and ask yourself if alcohol or drugs are causing more pain than pleasure in your life. Be honest with yourself, make no excuses, and check back tomorrow if it’s the truth about your current situation.