The one you feed…

I am in love with my life!  I cannot ever remember a time when I felt so truly alive…unencumbered by the murky depths of the past and personal nonsense.  I think that all the coaching, training, personal development and gratitude are finally paying off and things could not be better than they are at the moment.  But life wasn’t always peachy and as someone in long-term recovery I am ever vigilant of becoming complacent about my sobriety.  Arrogance is a sure fire way to let down one’s guard and then suddenly before someone knows it they’ve somehow fallen back into active addiction.  Rehab facilities and mutual-help groups are full of people who were living the dream, only to find themselves back in the clutches of their disease.

And yes, the more I study and research, the more I think that addiction is a disease.  I know that there are differing schools of thought on this, but I cannot for an instance see how this affliction we bear can be due to some kind of moral failing on our parts!  Certainly, before we become clean and sober through whatever means we choose, our moral compasses my have been temporarily on the fritz due to our illness, but this does not mean that addicts are without a set of personal norms, values and principles.  Okay, so we might slip off our personal path in this respect while we are feeding the beast, but this isn’t to say that we are devoid of moral fibre.  The degree to which we veer from our personal code may differ, depending on which substance we are abusing, but this doesn’t make addicts bad people.  I think that it’s a case of (generally) good people, doing bad things.

In my years spent in bars I saw even the most principled people do questionable things after a few too many.  It happens!  It is certainly not a true reflection of who they are when they are going about their daily lives.  Yet there seems to be this antiquated idea that addicts have somehow failed in this area and hence their dependence.  God, there have been times in the past when I was so ashamed of my behaviour that I could hardly face people for weeks following a particularly boozy night out…which became cumulative over time.  And yes guilt (I have done bad things) does inevitably lead to shame (I am a bad person), but this is only exacerbated by the collective stigma that addiction carries.  We don’t choose to be crippled by dependence because we are modern-day social pariahs!  It’s definitely (Not) what every little girl wants to be.

I was at a coaching boot camp recently when the facilitator was telling a particularly personal story about the deterioration of his marriage and his slide into debilitating depression.  It was about how a psychologist had taken a leap of faith regarding the payment of sessions because he was in such dire need of help, and this coach put it down to the fact that it was because his therapist could see he “wasn’t an alkie or anything”!  I was a little stunned by his insensitivity towards addiction, especially being someone who works in the field of coaching, but it just drove home how important it is to try and educate and inform people about addiction.  And the reality is that everyone is touched by it in some form.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a loved one who is grappling with dependence, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, gaming…to name the more common ones!

According to certain experts in the field of addiction there are multiple factors to consider as to why someone might become an two_wolves_saying_by_irvinggfm-d5h0563addict, including genetics, stress and chronic use of synthetic chemicals, as well as identity issues and family stressors.  And along with the physical, and emotional and mental deterioration, there is spiritual degeneration which encompasses the area of morality.  But it is certainly not a lack of any sort of values, principles and morals, albeit they be different for different people, that leads to a person with a predisposition to become an habitual user and more often than not, someone who finds themselves suffering from a substance abuse disorder.  But as to which comes first, the chicken-and-egg theory has no place in this debate.  Yes, addicts do bad things under the influence and in order to support their habits, but I speak from personal experience when I say that doesn’t make us bad people.

‘Til next time

Sober Something

7 thoughts on “The one you feed…

  1. Well stated. I couldn’t blame booze on everything, though. It was the solution to my problems for a long time. I had the problems of not feeling comfortable in my own skin, of not feeling like I belonged on this planet, of shattered self-esteem, etc. And some of my dumbest moves I made sober as well – just part of the illness, frankly. As they say, I have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem. Drinking wasn’t a problem at all 😉

    But the idea that we are morally failed folks is so antiquated and yet some people see that today. Our moral compasses surely fail even further when we are inebriated. As for the spiritual, I once heard someone say that addicts (and alcoholics) are those who are running away from God as fast as they can. Love that.

    I know there are several ideas and models of alcoholism, but I do believe it is of all three – mind, body and spirit – that it stems from.

    thanks for this!

    Paul

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  2. Thanks Paul! I’m right there with you and the thinking, not drinking, problem. There are certainly still days when I suffer from that affliction. I agree that alcoholism (or any substance abuse disorder) stems from a myriad of factors, nicely encapsulated in “mind, body & spirit” as you put it. I certainly think that it is impossible to get and stay clean and sober without a balanced and holistic approach to recovery.

    I’m not personally religious, but I certainly tend to my spiritual needs mainly through reading and learning. I know that AA talks of God as you know him, but in South African mutual-help groups there is a tendency towards the more traditional God in most meetings and I found this tricky so approached my recovery from a different angle. But i never take away from people who have found strength and personal power in their religion…there is no cookie-cutter approach to dealing with it!

    It’s good to see you back in the social media sphere, I know that there are plenty of people who follow you and I’m not sure how long since your return, but if I’m not mistaken I remember you were taking a break from it all. I hope you are rested, rejuvenated and well.

    Grateful for your comments,
    Leigh-Anne

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  3. Appreciating the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you
    present. It’s nice to come across a blog every
    once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds
    to my Google account.

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    • Hi,

      Thanks so much! I appreciate that and your words…always encouraging to get such great feedback. Sorry about late reply, your message was filtered from my inbox.

      Have a great weekend,
      Leigh-Anne

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  4. Great post! And so uplifting and inspiring! In the end who care right?! As long as we get into the solution! Woot woot!

    I too struggled with the different concepts of what is alcoholism, and I knew that it wasn’t a moral issue for me. I knew I was doing something wrong, I just could’t stop it.

    Viewing it as a disease always made sense to me. The I found that in 1992 a medical panel defined alcoholism as a disease:
    -Therefore, the committee agreed to define alcoholism as a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic. (JAMA. 1992;268:1012-1014) http://jama.jamanetwork.com/Mobile/article.aspx?articleid=399449

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    • Thanks so much….always aiming to bring inspiration & positivity to recovery. And I am in complete agreement that addiction is a disease! Thanks for sharing the link. Can relate to the information as have experienced it first-hand & know that addiction is in no way a moral failing.

      Thanks again & have a great weekend,
      Leigh-Anne

      Like

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