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The Narrative of Addiction and Recovery

Old 03-27-2014, 12:50 PM
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The Narrative of Addiction and Recovery

The Narrative of Addiction and Recovery

I have a question to ponder. Is it helpful to demonize our addiction?

Just consider for a moment your own script around your addiction, how you see your addiction? What language do you use?

From my perspective one of great ills of society is an idea that human nature is broken, mostly but not always a religious story of having fallen and then being redeemed. In many recovery rooms (gee even the word "recovery" hints at this) the main framework is the powerless/higher power relationship.

Our recovery script will often look like, us the drinker/user/gambler....... The fallen-person Broken and unfixable in human terms, and only fixable in higher power terms. We are often at our most lowest point when we are ready for change and this makes us vulnerable for indoctrination into a story of "you cant do it but God can" We are of course unskilled and immature at living rich and robust lives but does this really mean we are powerless?

We can end up seeing our addiction as the worst thing in the world and as a counterweight non addictive recovery as the best thing ever. We can try and create a hard line between the two and hedge on the truth to get there. I think what occurs here for some is a fear based attack, an idea that we cannot give any breathing room in our thoughts and emotions to the addiction. Therefore we write the demonizing script for the addiction and the virtuous one for the recovery and try to live up to it. Is it not possible we are replacing reality with idealism, and thus in the long term are still trapped in another kind addictive behavior?


One of the main focuses of my recovery today is mindfulness, the kind of mindfulness that lets me curiously observe whats going on, without my own labels of what is good and bad. Seeing things and giving myself permission to not panic or indulge. Things like urges or thoughts are only as powerful as the labels they hold, So I try to drop the labels and understand I am not separate from them (the idea that the true person is buried underneath is a delusion) Today I can have a thought about my addiction and even miss it sometimes, then in a mindful process watch the urge come and go without being in a fearful state, from here I can calmly and rationally tell myself I don't want my addictive life anymore and get on with living.
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Old 03-27-2014, 03:44 PM
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Hi Sam,

I like the idea of mindfulness as well. I ran across the idea "Acceptance and commitment therapy" the other day, which is a mindfulness type approach. If you look it up on wikipedia, in the note section #6 there is a pdf link that is a nice little article on it that i read most of last night and plan on finish tonight if I have time. I'd post a link but am signing in remote, so not sure if it would take and can't preview to check. Anyway if you are interested in mindfulness you may want to check it out or let us know anything interesting you have read.

To me everyone can think of addiction and get to the other side whatever way makes sense to them. For my way of thinking though addiction is just a habit simple as that. It's not a matter of good or bad, it's just that it eventually becomes rather unhealthy and would be in a persons interest to quit the habit. We are creatures of habit though and all habits are hard to unlearn, even if we are motivated and it is in our own self-interest to do so. Once you get into the habit of recovery and a new fulfilling life, that eventually becomes harder to break out of too though.

Take care,
Todd
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:22 PM
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Mindfulness ,
Thumbs up here and now.
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:51 PM
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Great timing. Practicing mindfulness has been nearly non-existent for me the last month or so. It seems I'm constantly in a state of reaction and running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to fix everyone and everything in my path. Needless to say I'm exhausted, full of anxiety and in many cases trying to fix things that aren't even my business or don't need to be fixed. Ugh.

Thanks for the post.
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by samseb5351 View Post
Is it helpful to demonize our addiction?
Depends on the addict. It doesn't have to be true (or untrue) for everyone.
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Nonsensical View Post
Depends on the addict. It doesn't have to be true (or untrue) for everyone.
Yes maybe but that in itself depends upon if one values reality as a focus point. I am personally not all that interested in others recovery if its not based on a platform of seeking reality.
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Old 03-28-2014, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by samseb5351 View Post
I am personally not all that interested in others recovery if its not based on a platform of seeking reality.
Being interested in anyone's recovery but your own is optional, of course. However, your original question was "is it helpful?" not "is it interesting to me?"

If your original question had been, "Is it interesting to me if other people demonize their addictions?" I would not have answered. Because, that's not interesting to me.
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Old 03-28-2014, 06:54 PM
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Wouldn't be helpful for me, and I did the opposite when I quit. Invited "It" in for tea, as I knew we'd co-exist. and I wanted and needed that to be peaceful. my alcoholism is not my enemy, and so I don't fight. No need to. In the "old days"of my previous attempts, I was constantly at war with what is really a part of me, and I lost every time.
No demons. Just me. No virtue (as you call it) attached to my recovery, either.
Seems I couldn't embrace my sobriety without embracing/accepting my alcoholism first and continuously.
That's my foundation of my reality.
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:00 PM
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Yes Todd, ACT has been one approach I find vey helpful. And that links with Fini's (thanks Fini) post which is about not Fighting, the addiction which is one of the most important ideas presented in ACT.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:22 AM
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Good ideas, but in my case that's greatly overthinking it. I love drinking but I can't handle the consequences. If I could drink like normal people I would but I can't so it's not within the realm of possibilities. I may as well wish that I could turn invisible or surf the universe on my board via the Power Cosmic. Booze is impersonal, just a chemical like hydrogen or benzine. It carries no agency or moral power. It's not good or evil, it's just there; like a hammer be used to build a barn or cave in someone's skull, the ethical nature of alcohol can only be found in its use.

However, I would encourage anyone to adopt any narrative that helps them stay sober. In this case, maybe better a beautiful lie that ennobles us than an empty truth.
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by MythOfSisyphus View Post
Good ideas, but in my case that's greatly overthinking it. I love drinking but I can't handle the consequences. If I could drink like normal people I would but I can't so it's not within the realm of possibilities. I may as well wish that I could turn invisible or surf the universe on my board via the Power Cosmic. Booze is impersonal, just a chemical like hydrogen or benzine. It carries no agency or moral power. It's not good or evil, it's just there; like a hammer be used to build a barn or cave in someone's skull, the ethical nature of alcohol can only be found in its use. However, I would encourage anyone to adopt any narrative that helps them stay sober. In this case, maybe better a beautiful lie that ennobles us than an empty truth.
Could you please give me an example of a "beautiful lie that ennobles us" and "an empty truth"
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Old 03-30-2014, 06:48 PM
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Can you please give an example of beautiful lie and empty truth.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:35 PM
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I'm an atheist; speaking only for myself I'd rather just always deal with the truth. But I realize that a pragmatist may find the truth isn't always useful. So if you need to construct a Demon and name it alcohol in order to fight your battle, then do it! If you're agnostic/uncertain about religion but find the idea of a higher power to help you through recover, use it. That's all I mean by my statement.

I guess an "empty truth" could be the idea that death is the end; we just go out like a burnt out light bulb and cease to be. That may or may not be the truth, and it may be an empty one if you gain no benefit from it.
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Old 04-01-2014, 01:42 AM
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I am all for the idea that people should do what they want or need in recovery to stay sober. The problems come when personal recoveries become standard dogma of recovery. Its a bit like the separation of church and state issue, every person has the right to practice what they want but when it makes its way into law or schools or government or public places it sets people aside, it creates discrimination and intolerance.
I see the same thing in recovery rooms, therapists clinics, rehabs and online. The overwhelming amount of access points for struggling alcoholics and addicts require wading through a barrage of unfounded and unscientific ideas. Suggestions of powerless and higher powers, ideas we overthink or should just listen, faking it until we make it, disease models and the list goes on............ Simply fall apart when challenged with honest investigation and reason. We may have come a lot further with funding for decent science and addiction research if the secular medical professionals didn't also have to wade through the same stuff we do.

I don't make these statements lightly as a de-converted big book thumper I have tackled many issues in my life, and came to the conclusion I was never powerless just addicted, immature and unskilled.

Thanks
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:59 AM
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Oh man I love this post. Don't have anything brilliant to say, so I think I'll watch from the sidelines for now.

I guess the one thing I can say is that my views have changed greatly over the years. Things used to be more black and white and truth and right used to drive a lot of my opinions and judgements. Having been repeatedly shown the folly of my ways/beliefs over the years, I'm now a lot more inclined towards - if that's what works for you Bud then carry on.

What's really been a trip is that when I was an agnostic atheist I did AA (successfully until I quit and went back to the bottle, by choice), but now that I have developed faith later on in life I have found RR and really dig it.

And oh yea, I hear that addicted, immature and unskilled comment. Lots of work to do on those last two.
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Old 04-02-2014, 07:03 PM
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I have found this thread really useful. I think that a significant change, obvious or not, is necessary to keep this sobriety thing. That's for me anyway. The idea that I should think about how I would like my life to look like in 5 years floors me. In the past, I had in mind when asked this kind of thing that I should imagine 'sober rocket scientist'. Something completely unachievable. Simply asking what do I want out of life - even if only 'not hungover' is the only thing I can think of - is a revelation. Or really, the simple things like camping holidays with my family, enjoying simple moments, being healthy, fit. Somehow they seem important to me and achievable.
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