Go Back  SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information > Secular Recovery > Secular Connections
Reload this Page >

COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS - Four Questions About My Addiction

Blogs


Notices

COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS - Four Questions About My Addiction

Old 11-18-2009, 09:57 AM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
SalParadise1951's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pangaea
Posts: 18
COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS - Four Questions About My Addiction

My addiction is/was to alcohol and drugs. Of these alcohol and marijuana were what one might call my drugs of choice. That's not to say that I didn't use copious amounts of other substances. The thing is that when I used other substances, I usually had a beer in my hand while using them. Pot was my way to help me come down or end the night. It was also the way I chased hangovers and occupied myself between benders.

1.What do I enjoy about my addiction, what does it do for me (be specific)?
List as many things as you can that you liked about whatever you are/were addicted to.
a. Where possible, find alternative ways of achieving the same goals.
b. Recognize positive thinking about the addiction as a potential relapse warning sign.
c. Realize that there are some things you liked about the addiction you will have to learn to live without.
d. List what you enjoy about your addiction so you can ask yourself if it is really worth the price. e. Realize that you aren't stupid; you did get something from your addiction. It just may not be working on your behalf anymore.


I think what I enjoyed the most about drinking and getting high was the ability they gave me to get outside of myself. Growing up I always felt slightly out of place. I fit in to an extent but there was always something that somehow separated me from the pack. Booze especially lifted the awkwardness from me. I was the life of the party. More importantly, I think that I actually liked myself for the first time in my life when I was drunk and high. I felt complete and things felt right. Other substances functioned in similar ways for me. Over the years I developed a lot of anger and resentments. Pot mellowed those feelings out. When I started smoking I actually became friends with quite a few folks that I quite frankly hated. I also feel like pot opened my eyes to quite a few different ways of looking at life and its mysteries. Psychedelics played a similar role in my life. From early childhood, I suffered from depression and had a difficult time concentrating and staying motivated. Speed, whether it was powder, rock or pills were incredibly effective in correcting these problems. They've helped me to get quite a bit done over the years.

Another way in which I enjoyed my addictions was the lifestyle that came along with them. Especially with the illegal substances, there was a certain romance to the lifestyle. To this day, I still have a distaste for the dry ordinary ho-hum everyday lifestyle. It was exciting to live outside of the law. I was involved in selling quite a few of these substances. The "easy" money was nice. I took pride in having the connections that other people didn't have and my business skills. I loved being part of a subculture that lived life according to different ideals that were radically different from our materialist society (or so I thought anyway).

Along these same lines, I also romanticized the self-destruction that came out of my alcohol consumption. Growing up, it was a matter of pride amongst my circle of friends over who could consume the most alcohol. We would always jokingly refer to ourselves as alcoholics. Little did we know that we were actually quite accurate in our jests. In actuality, I think that is why we gravitated towards one another. A lot of my drinking buddies are life-long friends and many of these friendships were forged long before we picked up the bottle. If think what accounts for this is that we were all somehow predestined for substance abuse. Whether this was genetic, our geographic location or our similar family histories, I dunno. Anyway, we're all by and large alcoholics and drug addicts today. Getting back to my point, I just loved the self-destructive lifestyle. I loved getting ****-faced, hopping behind the wheel of a car, turning up the music loud, and driving as fast as I could. I loved getting into fights. I loved getting wasted and stripping off all my clothes and dumping beers all over my head. I loved joking around the day after about all the calamity the night before. There was this comradery we all shared. It was dysfunctional to be sure and I could always see that. I guess I just simply enjoyed this living on the edge lifestyle.

I suppose that another way in which I enjoyed my addiction is much more simple and to the point. I like the way that drugs and alcohol made me feel. I enjoyed the physical sensations. I liked the way booze tastes. I liked craft beers and exotic wines. I enjoyed smoking good pot. I loved the taste of cocaine and the numbness. I loved sinking into the couch after taking opiates and thoroughly enjoyed scratching the itches that came with them. I loved the enhanced sexual pleasure that came with amphetamines and mdma. For all the ways in which I used substances to achieve "practical" goals, the truth is that I love drugs in themselves.

As far as alternatives go, the hardest has been finding an alternative to my liking drugs in themselves. The best one that I've found has been through healthy eating and exercise. I think that my appreciation for drugs in themselves is really an aesthetic appreciation. I can get this from cooking. I'm getting into heirloom vegetables and meats and have been devoting my time to learning to cook a wide variety of meals. I can also take some of the money that I used to devote to my addiction and spend it on taking my wife out for a nice meal. Exercise has been giving me a nice healthy physical sensation that more than replaces those that came with my addiction. Getting stoned just doesn't compare to the feeling after completing a nice run in the woods.

I still don't have much love for the everyday life. I've learned to engage in it to the extent that I have to so as to stay alive but I'm outside of it as much as possible. I play music and I listen to quite a bit of music both at home and at different venues. I find a sense of adventure in discovering new music. Now I'm actually learning the intricacies behind a piece of music instead of just nodding-off to it while stoned. I also find that the spiritual experience that I get from music nowadays far exceeds the cheap imitation of a spiritual experience that I used to get from substances. I also read quite a bit, philosophy mostly. Exploring the depths of knowledge allows me to get away from the ordinary in ways that a drug never could.

The best news I have to report is that I no longer feel any need to get outside of myself. I know I had depression and social awkwardness before I started using but it only seemed to exacerbate the issues. I thought I was improving while in reality I was going backwards. I've been doing a lot of work in therapy and today life is good. I like who I am and what I can offer to others. I still struggle from time to time but I'm steadily acquiring the tools to cope with whatever life throws my way.

I guess that's enough for the first part. Questions 2-4 to follow. Thanks for reading. Any commentary would be appreciated.
SalParadise1951 is offline  
Old 11-18-2009, 11:41 AM
  # 2 (permalink)  
I got nothin'
 
Bamboozle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: My house.
Posts: 4,889
Blog Entries: 14
Hello, Sal. Welcome to the secular side.

Looking forward to reading some more.
Bamboozle is offline  
Old 11-18-2009, 12:07 PM
  # 3 (permalink)  
☯ ⓌⒾⓁⓁ☯
 
Zencat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Oxnard (The Nard), CA, USA.
Posts: 8,279
Blog Entries: 12
Originally Posted by Bam
Hello, Sal. Welcome to the secular side.

Looking forward to reading some more.
Me too!

That was a very thorough part "a" and "b" Sal. I liked drugs for many of the same reasons as you did. A wild eyed well lubricated outsider of the main stream of society was totally me. Its good to know that I can still be a screwball and be clean & sober at the same time.
Zencat is offline  
Old 11-18-2009, 12:47 PM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Big Idiot Man Child
 
windysan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: La
Posts: 5,664
too much words
windysan is offline  
Old 11-18-2009, 01:15 PM
  # 5 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
SalParadise1951's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pangaea
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by windysan View Post
too much words
thanks for sharing?
SalParadise1951 is offline  
Old 11-18-2009, 03:16 PM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
SalParadise1951's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pangaea
Posts: 18
2. What do I hate about my addiction, what does it do to me (give specific examples)?
List as many of the bad, undesirable results of your addiction as you can. Here it is extremely important that you use specific examples. Specific examples have much greater emotional impact and motivational force!
a. Ask yourself honestly "If my addiction was a used car, would I pay this much for it?"
b. Review this list often, especially if you are having a lot of positive, happy thoughts about all the great things your addiction did for you.


What I hate about my addiction most of all is my complete and utter subservience to it. Since about the age of 14, I've really only ever had one higher power and that was my addiction. All that business in the 1st step, I've never heard my own situation wrapped up so concisely. It may not be the case today but that's not the point.

I hate the person I was during my active addiction. In my answer to the first question I mentioned that booze and drugs made me feel complete and that things were alright. Its almost funny that I couldn't see that chemicals that altered my perception would prevent me from having an accurate perception of myself. I most certainly wasn't complete and things were far from alright. Even though I thought I was addressing my problems, what I was actually doing was hiding from them, stuffing them down and adding to them. Anyone ever see that episode of the Simpsons where Homer recollects his booze-filled exploits the night before? He fancies himself witty, collected and the life of the party. What actually happened was that he made an incredible ass out of himself. I can't tell you how many times I did this. As my addiction progressed I couldn't even recall distorted perceptions of what I did the night before. I'd black-out and only retain flashes of the chaos that I unleashed. I won't lie and say that I didn't enjoy this sometimes. How screwed-up is that? But again, I enjoyed the self destruction for a while. Eventually though, I came to loathe the blackouts. What did I say? Who did I say it to? Why is my nose broken? I don't remember that dent being in my car. Did I really give that homeless woman all the money in my wallet?

Besides the person I became while under the influence, I really hate the person I was between episodes of using. I had a lot of hate. Pot could mellow this out as I mentioned but it became increasingly ineffective. I'd hate someone for very little or for something that they didn't even think, do or say. I let my hate develop into prejudices. I was also lazy. The only enthusiasm I showed was for my love affair with chemicals. I let almost all my responsibilities slide and I couldn't care less about the consequences. Often times, my family took care of them. Speaking of which, I treated my family like garbage. I was mean and inconsiderate. I stole from them. I destroyed their property. What hurts most of all is that I showed them no love, only contempt.

My addiction drove me to the point of suicide. Sometimes I went about this slowly. Other times I was more determined. I'm really grateful that my addiction had me that messed-up that I couldn't even do that right. I drank non-toxic anti-freeze believing it was toxic. I wrecked my car right into a telephone pole doing 50 mph. The cops told me that not wearing a seat belt and being so intoxicated saved my life. Obviously I survived both. I'm happy now but do you know how much of a loser I felt like that I couldn't even get that right.

To feed my addiction and its accompanying lifestyle I sold drugs. I truly hate that I helped to spread the disease. I justified it by not ripping anyone off and in fact really hooking my bags up. I also told myself that it was ok because I wasn't forcing anyone's hand. I take responsibility for my own decisions so I think those people I sold to have to take their own too. It may also be true that if I didn't sell to them someone else would have. That doesn't mean it had to be me. The plain fact of the matter is that I profited from others' pain and suffering. That doesn't feel good. I also put myself and my family in a lot of legal harm's way. Luckily nothing happened as a result of my dealing. Had it continued it surely would have happened and I escaped some really close calls besides.

I hate what my addiction did to my academic and professional careers. I did really well in college. My transcripts are pretty flawless. The thing is that things come to me fairly naturally. I accomplished what I did with minimal effort. Even still, I don't know how I pulled if off. What I didn't do was push myself. I believe that I could have done some special things. I know I could have because I'm doing them now. Nevertheless, I never made the right connections in school. I didn't take on challenging internships. I opted to take courses that I knew I could ace. That left more time for the party. I also worked pretty hard at jobs when I had to. The thing is that I'd take long breaks between employment when dealing got lucrative. So while my track record is good and I'll always get a decent recommendation from past employers, how do I account for all the breaks. I also didn't pursue any jobs that were going to lead to a career. I'd work some manual labor job where I could make some bucks and it didn't matter if I looked like hell when I came in. Its only been recently that I've been able to dig out of this hole and finally get a job where I can make use of my talents and hard-work ethic.

There's other stuff too like how addiction stifled my progression as a musician and writer but the above are the things that really sting. I'd never pay this much for a used car. I'd never pay this much for a brand new one. Nor would I pay this much for anything ever again. I'm learning to be grateful for my life as a whole but I'm never going back to this.

Thanks for reading. I think I'm done for the evening so I'll work on 3 and 4 tomorrow. Again, commentary is appreciated.
SalParadise1951 is offline  
Old 11-18-2009, 04:02 PM
  # 7 (permalink)  
Big Idiot Man Child
 
windysan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: La
Posts: 5,664
Originally Posted by salparadise1951 View Post
thanks for sharing?
lol
windysan is offline  
Old 11-19-2009, 03:41 PM
  # 8 (permalink)  
9/15/08
 
Overman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: midwest
Posts: 257
Thanks for sharing Sal.

I'm with windy, I tend to avoid reading wordy posts. But don't let that discourage you from pouring your heart into it.
Overman is offline  
Old 11-19-2009, 05:51 PM
  # 9 (permalink)  
Reach Out and Touch Faith
 
shockozulu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: On a Sailboat
Posts: 3,871
Besides the person I became while under the influence, I really hate the person I was between episodes of using. I had a lot of hate.
In my CBA's I try to reduce those words. I disliked the actions I did while under the influence. I disliked my thoughts as related to addiction. Otherwise, its easy to stay full of hate once I'm clean.
shockozulu is offline  
Old 11-21-2009, 07:47 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
SalParadise1951's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pangaea
Posts: 18
@ Alera - there isn't many occasions on which I use the word "hate" these days. Thanks for the advice. I'm pretty sure I only used it because of the fact that it was in the question.
SalParadise1951 is offline  
Old 11-21-2009, 07:52 PM
  # 11 (permalink)  
Reach Out and Touch Faith
 
shockozulu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: On a Sailboat
Posts: 3,871
Originally Posted by SalParadise1951 View Post
@ Alera - there isn't many occasions on which I use the word "hate" these days. Thanks for the advice. I'm pretty sure I only used it because of the fact that it was in the question.
I have rarely seen you use terms like "hate" so I was wondering why you had said that in your CBA. That makes sense now. Thanks for taking the time to explain it.

As for me, I still have to be careful for myself. Its too easy to "hate" so I try to avoid using the word. That's just a person thing though.

One last point, I really like all the work you are putting into this CBA. IMO, the more you put in, the more you get out. Keep it up!!!
shockozulu is offline  
Old 11-21-2009, 08:36 PM
  # 12 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
SalParadise1951's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pangaea
Posts: 18
3. What do I think I will like about giving up my addiction?
List what good things you think/fantasize will happen when you stop your addiction.
a. This provides you with a list of goals to achieve and things to look forward to as a result of your new addiction free lifestyle.
b. This list also helps you to reality test your expectations. If they are unrealistic, they can lead to a disappointment based relapse.


Since I have already given up my addiction, I suppose that I can speak to what I like about being clean and sober. I'll also mention some things that I still look forward to.

I like being able to make commitments and follow through on them. My ability to do so during my active addiction was very limited. I didn't blow-off everyone. I'm fortunate that chemicals had yet to rob my of all of my humanity before I sought help. Honestly, I don't know how I'd be able to live with myself had been completely incapable of taking care of my dying grandmother after promising my grandfather that I'd look after her while he was on his death bed. Anyway, although I realize that slacking-off is an unfortunate character trait of mine, today I have developed the wherewithal to follow through on almost all promises I make. Along these same lines, I've also been able to stick to a fairly regular schedule.

I like being productive. I'm actually pursuing and producing what were literally pipe dreams at one time. Putting aside my addiction removed so many obstacles for me, many of which were unforeseen at the time I made the decision to do so. I've actually found meaningful employment. I work at a D&A rehab and the rewards I reap from this job are tremendous. I think its obvious that this doesn't happen had I continued on as an addict. I'm just about to wrap up a Master's degree and I have another one in mind when this is finished. I used to think that getting high somehow opened-up my mind and facilitated my learning and creativity. Perhaps it even did for a time. Even if it did, the days when this might have been the case were long gone. My thinking and the work that results from it are so much more on point these days. I'd never be at the point I'm at today had I continued to use.

There's a lot more I could go on about here. In essence, I love my sober life. I'll speak to this more in the final question but when I initially pondered the idea of sobriety I thought that life would be kind of dull from that point on. I knew it needed to be done but I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea. I couldn't have been more wrong. My personal relationships today are great. I have actual fun. The kind of fun I had as a kid, the real stuff.

As far as what I'm still looking forward to, one thing is the progression of my career in the addiction studies/treatment field. I never thought I'd like my job. I hoped that I would but it seemed an unrealistic goal. I'm still fairly green but this feels so right. I have to check my desires to get ahead of myself but at the same time I have some lofty expectations. I only have them because I feel strong in my recovery and I finally have back the self-confidence that addiction stole from me.

I look forward to resolving my financial situation. As I guess so many alcoholics and addicts have done before me, I've created a nice little financial mess over my years of using. This isn't going to be easy but it finally seems possible. It won't be over night but I can finally start thinking about owning my own home and being financially secure enough to start a family. That's another thing in itself. I'm looking forward to having some children with my wonderful wife. She has made it clear in no uncertain terms that if go back out not only will she not raise a family with me, she is out too. Knowing this keeps it real for me. But even if she didn't lay out this ultimatum, I know that I wouldn't be anything close to a good father if I was using. If I stay on track, I know that I'll do great.

I guess that's enough. I'm also looking forward to doing some things musically and maybe even doing some creative writing but what I've mentioned thus far are the major goals. Everyday I try to check my expectations. Sometimes I'm ambitious but I believe that I'm not setting myself up for failure.

Again, thanks for reading and, again, questions, comments and concerns are all appreciated.
SalParadise1951 is offline  
Old 11-22-2009, 12:50 PM
  # 13 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
SalParadise1951's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Pangaea
Posts: 18
4. What do I think I won't like about giving up my addiction?
List what you think you are going to hate, dread or merely dislike about living without your addiction.
a. This list tells you what kinds of new coping skills, behaviors and lifestyle changes you need to develop in order to stay addiction free.
b. It also serves as another relapse warning list. If all you think about is how much life sucks now that you are not doing your addiction, you are in a relapse thought pattern that is just as dangerous as only focusing on what you liked about your addiction.


Again, I'll be speaking from the perspective of someone who has already set their addiction aside.

One thing that I miss about my addiction is the ability of certain chemical have to provide my with instant relaxation and stress relief. Nowadays I have to actively work to achieve relaxation, sometimes anyway. The idea of having to do more work in to escape the stress of doing other work is unappealing to me. The thing I have to keep in mind is that the relaxation I'm after these days is so much more genuine than the superficial relaxation that comes from drugs. This relaxation is significantly longer lasting. I tend not to become agitated again in a few hours after a workout as opposed to when I would come down from a substance.

I also miss the sexual enhancement of amphetamines, ecstasy and marijuana. The plain fact of the matter here is that I cannot recreate or replace this stimulation. However, the sexual stimulation that I'm speaking of was not exactly of the healthy variety. I believe that there were some sex issues intermingled with my substance addiction(s). Therefore, letting go of these sexual cravings is not something that I'm regretful of. It is much more important to me to have a healthy sex life within the confines of my marriage. I'm by no means conservative but that needn't mean that I have to pursue sexual extremes.

I miss some of my friends. As I mentioned in my first post, many of my using buddies are also life-long friends. Many of them are like brothers to me as I am an only child. Here there's a number of things I have to keep in mind. One thing I tend to want to do is to help them out of their active addictions. I've come to realize that I can't help them until they are ready for the help. The most I can do most of the time is to be an example for them. I no longer question or comment on their habits. If they get curious about what I got going on, I'm there for them and I give it to them straight. I also have to realize that I quit drinking and drugging, the rest of the world didn't. Some of my friends have taken several steps back from the problem drinking of their youths. Its important for me to have them in my life to some extent. If they want to have a drink while watching a ball game, its just as unfair of me to ask them not to as it would be unfair of them to never hang out with me in drug and alcohol free environments. I like the clean and sober life. Someone having a beer in front of me shouldn't break this resolve. I can't just hang out in a bar with them or stay up all night with them while they blow lines. Why would I even want to, my ability to do so aside? Some friends I've pretty much had to write-off. This sucks. On the flip side, I'm constantly making new sober friends so I feel like I'm more than breaking even on that end. My wife is my best friend (non-canine anyway). I never have to worry about losing that friendship if I stay clean.

I also mentioned earlier that before I went forward with my decision to get sober that I thought that the fun portion of my life was now over. I was somewhat ok with that. I figured that people get old and with that comes a little bit more boring life. Well if that is what happens, I've yet to reach that stage of my development. Life is just so freaking cool right now. I now realize that being strung-out and hungover was never really fun. I have no idea why people ask you if you want to party when asking you if you'd like some powder. They should ask you if you want to get a bloody nose with a side of depression. Going to see a movie used to be just a way to pass the time between highs. Now I get jazzed to go see a movie on an IMAX or to rent a good indie flick. Actually going to see a football game is so much cooler than spending the same amount of time and cash to watch one in some dank bar.

As far as what I think I might continue to miss as my clean time goes on, I dunno. Really, I'm picking my brain right now and I can't think of anything significant. Actually, I tend to think I'm going to miss the things I have listed less and less. I know that certain situations are going to come up where the urge to drink or use will come about. I don't think that I'll develop any new longings for my addiction. That's a good feeling.

Thanks everyone for reading. This exercise had been incredibly helpful for me. Hopefully, I've touched on something that might help someone else too. Comments and such are always appreciated.
SalParadise1951 is offline  
Old 11-28-2009, 07:53 PM
  # 14 (permalink)  
Up from the ashes
 
Freepath's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Northern California
Posts: 213
These answers show so much introspection. In some ways I think they are universal. I really think that when people bring their own recovery ideas and work to the forum like this, it really adds to how helpful this site can be. Thank you for your post.
Freepath is offline  
Old 12-01-2009, 01:42 AM
  # 15 (permalink)  
I got nothin'
 
Bamboozle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: My house.
Posts: 4,889
Blog Entries: 14
You write very well, Sal.

Laughing is how I relax...especially if I can get everyone else going. It feels good.
Bamboozle is offline  

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:39 AM.