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 addict, 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