Getting clean seems like a great idea up until it comes to putting down the drug. If you've tried it before, you know the universe is about to transform itself into a place where all life's problems can be solved—the important ones anyway—by picking up that drug just one more time. Pain, fear, anxiety, that clawing never-ending need, how much more important it becomes to end all that than that silly little goal of getting clean. Then, trashed once again, new crimes added to the old, overwhelming sickness driving you down, you may say again, "I gotta stop doing this." Perhaps you've said it so often by now, though, you've replaced it with, "I can't do it. It cannot be done. Why try?"
Sound familiar? Yeah, it's all well and good to hand out advice on getting clean, but we're talking about taking on a monster that doesn't know anything but how to hurt you if you don't keep feeding him his stuff. I've tried it before. I've tried it a lot of times. I can't do it.
What is being "ready?" Everyone I know who made it into recovery and stayed there was ready for recovery. When someone goes out again (relapses), odds are you'll hear someone say: "I guess he wasn't ready." So, what is "ready?"
Addiction is a disease of stages. Stage one is the yum-yum stage. Drugs are new, they're fun, they feel good, they seem to answer some very deep needs, and they come with a lot of friends and parties. Stage two is the pain collecting stage. Drugs have become a clawing need, it's all you can do to keep away the pain, all of those deep needs have multiplied, and no one wants to see you unless you come with either money or drugs. Physical problems, mental problems, relationship problems, legal problems—they stack up higher and higher until one of two things happens: Either death through suicide, murder, or physical collapse, or; The next stage: You become ready for recovery.
You are ready for recovery when you become willing to go to any lengths to recover. Willing to go to any lengths to recover.
Well, what does that mean?
If that's the question you're asking, you're not ready. Go collect more pain.
If the question you're asking is, "Okay, I'm ready to try anything. What do I do?" you might be ready.
Any lengths, right?
Try this: Pick whatever higher power you want—one off the rack, a mountain, a teddy bear, a crystal, a painted volleyball, whatever—and say to it, "I don't know what to do. Please help me."
Well . . . what then?
That's between you and the powers of the universe. Once you've collected enough pain, are ready to recover, and ask your higher power for help, miraculous things begin happening. You might hear an ad on TV, run across an NA help line number, someone mentions a particular rehab, someone else might invite you to a meeting. It can be many things, but it all comes down to the universe putting answers into your life. There is a lot of help out there for those who are ready for recovery. To see it, all you have to do is ask for it.
But, I don't believe in this crap!
That's okay. You don't have to believe in a higher power. All you need to do is use it. And when you get your answers, keep in mind that they are not suggestions or guidelines.
Barry B. Longyear
PS. No, the entry above is not a load of laughs. After my open-heart surgery two weeks ago, I had a rough night last night and was feeling good and sick today. It reminded me of another time when I was good and sick, up to my ears in pain, and was driven to ask a higher power for help. In my case, however, the HP I asked was some faceless creature at the nurses station in rehab almost twenty-three years ago. I said to her, "You know, I feel terrible." That was the best I could do at the time in asking for help. I got the help I needed and have been clean ever since.
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