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Old 06-29-2006, 08:52 PM
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Secular sobriety questions

Some questions have come my way over the years about sobriety from people who have what I call 'faith-based world views'. So I thought I'd throw them out for discussion....

What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:01 PM
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I believe I have a disease.

I get the power to change fromthe desire to change, the collective experience of those that came before me and my own experience.

THe motivation to change for me comes from the life I have lived and not wanting to return to that life. It's sustained by the change I see in my life and the desire to change more, when I have doubts I consider my options, either go back to where I came from or hold on and try to learn from the people that were here before me and hopefully I get through it, when I feel ambivalant I muscle my way through it and continue to do what I have done in the past to get me to where I am today and it passes.
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Old 06-30-2006, 02:10 AM
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I feel naughty reading here.

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Old 06-30-2006, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Don S
Some questions have come my way over the years about sobriety from people who have what I call 'faith-based world views'. So I thought I'd throw them out for discussion....
I do thank you for this thoughtful thread Don. I wouldn't say I consider myself secular, however, it's something I want to explore and decide whether I am or whether I'm not. I'm a little afraid of the things I might read here..... things I find to be truthful, where a sense of spirituality once cushioned things. It might take me a long time to figure it out. I come with an open mind. I'm not sure why I begin this quest in Secular Connections.... I think there's more here that I fear that needs confronting so that I can move on either way. To me, part of this recovery biz has a lot to do with finding myself and improving on every level. I'm interested in hashing this out with myself, so it will no longer feel like an itch I can't scratch. I hope it's okay for me to post here. I thought these questions were great starters to figure out where I currently stand within this swirling heap.
What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?
Partially due to neglect on behalf of my parents, I think. They divorced when I was 7, my Mom worked full-time, and I lived with her afterward. She didn't have time to involve us in extracurricular activities that might have otherwise kept me out of trouble. It's a sore spot with me. I had lots of talents and interests, and I was an ambitious child. Mom was a lapsed Catholic. She is still non-practicing, but I choose the word "lapsed" for that time period because she wasn't a good role model for certain behaviors (she dabbled in marijuana, alcohol, and had various sexual partners). Dad was an atheist, very physically abusive and emotionally unavailable. I starting using when I was 12.

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?
I have known for a long time that I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings, and actions. It doesn't mean I always act responsibly, however, and I'm aware of that. But I don't consider a HP as inspiration/motivation/guidance with regard to things I can change. Well, okay, Karma maybe. I really believe that what one puts out into the universe comes back somehow. I have a hard time believing we endure so much suffering on earth and reap no reward in the end. Of course, that reward could simply be peace of mind for having lived a good life..... but then again, some people don't have the luxury of experiencing deathbed peace of mind after having lived a decent life; you know, the ones who get crushed by falling anvils and stuff.

Things I can't change though? Not so sure.....

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?
Death, I think is a very powerful influence for me. I'm more afraid of death and illness than anything. There have been a few rough moments in past months where I have found myself praying when I was at a loss for answers, and it was all that brought relief. It's possible that I would have benefited the same from meditation, and in actuality, it wasn't much different. I think I told myself logical, calming things to quiet my fears. But I'm not so sure about that either. I'll try it again soon and pay closer attention to my thoughts. Sometimes, especially when I was younger (as an adult, I was always the type to pray during times of crisis only), I would feel enveloped in an invisible blanket of love and protection.

Thanks for reading my post.

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Old 06-30-2006, 08:12 AM
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Good questions...
Originally Posted by Don S
What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?
What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?
Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

I think that a multitude of things caused my ridiculous drinking behavior. I think that I was (and still am) a very shy person, and once I realized that
shyness + alcohol = fun-loving person who everyone loved to be around, I had a hard time parting with it. I think that alcohol is a very manipulative drug that has different effects on everyone, but I DO believe that my body metabolizes and processes alcohol differently than that of people who do not drink, which definitelly leads to the disease. I think it is a sleeping giant. There is a reason I was always the person who REFUSED to stop drinking, rising people from a deep sleep to play beer pong with me in high school, and the one to order more drinks than anyone at the bar...a tiny little wafe like me of 100 pounds. So, I think it has social, emotional, and physical connections to me, and it was truly love at first drink...

I have incredible motivation to change because I realized that I was drinking away my life, I fell into an incredibly deep depression, and I now realize how talented and gifted I am. My motivation is to tap into my unlimited potential, which I will come nowhere near if I continue to dig myself a grave with alcohol. My strenth comes from within (I know that's cliche, but it's true.) A lightbulb went off one day, and I realized how much I was wasting my life. I always used to accept challenges head-on, and now I am on for the fight of my life. An INCREDIBLY difficult challenge, but one that I need to conquer in order to live the life I want to live.
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Old 07-01-2006, 05:17 AM
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Hmm, questions to make you think.

What caused your substance abuse behavior?

Mmm, its been a long time. I was brought up in 'care' and I was restless and noisy and disruptive (apparently!) so I was given a paediatric sedative that contained valium sometimes....I LOVED it, and soon learned to act up for it. it made me feel peaceful and cozy. I used to pretend I had a cough for codeine lictus...then found you could buy it for a pound a 600mg bottle for the chemist. That was my undoing I guess. Ive been addicted to opiates ever since, im now 32. However Im VERY lucky in that I havent had a bad life because of it.....Ive had a wonderful life, so far. I have depressions and panics but they are always brief. Ive a lovely home and partner and dog and stepkids. Ive travelled extensively and am now studying at art school.

This is the problem with me about the motivation to change......because my life has been good,even with drugs its hard to get that.Ive no car crash stories to tell, no criminal record. The motivation to change comes I guess from not wanting to be looked down on, not wanting to hurt my body, and id like to know what im really like. However that scares me! What if my entire personality is a construct of drugs?

When im down and the motivation to change fades I do yoga, meditate, try and think of my body as a temple... its hard for me as I said as my life has been very blessed (I am starting to realise just how blessed lately)even with drugs entwined all the way..my partner has been a very stabilising influence,and Ive never been in to getting 'out of it' ...I seem to need a seatbelt between me and the world....hmm. As I said your questions made me think.
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Don S
Some questions have come my way over the years about sobriety from people who have what I call 'faith-based world views'. So I thought I'd throw them out for discussion....

What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?
Hi Don, my answers to this are as follows:

My substance abuse was caused by a few things, one was my failure to care for my own spiritual, emotional and physical well being and by becoming captivated by the world of materialism and greed.

Secondly was my willingness to focus on being a "victim" rather than my normal frame of mind which is that of life presents challenges and we deal with them as we go.

Third was my disillusionment with life after university... I thought rather naively that by completing my degrees and graduating and finding a good job life would just unfold as I wanted... I overlooked the fact that life continues to throw curves and sliders and knuckleballs regardless of your degree and you have to deal with them.

Fourthly, I was very lonely and allowed myself to become isolated and overworked... likely goes back to one above.

Cheers, Levi
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Old 07-03-2006, 02:23 AM
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Thanks for this.

What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

Don't mean to sound glib, but I'm enjoying the fact that it no longer matters. I thought I had to understand the problem so I could construct a solution. Turns out I just had to start living a solution. As we all know the solutions are relative anyway. Life is too short. I still don't know how I got here - I could construct a belief, or two..

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

The first imperative came from my own desperation. I believe that dependencies are first and foremost isolating activities. I became encased in my own self-loathing, fear, anger, guilt, shame, secrets. Inside that carapace I drank, fuelling my own isolation. Only when it became unbearable was I forced out. Simultaneously, the example of other people who had suffered as I did but now seemed well became an enticing force. So the "power" to change - it's a deliberately leading question, but hey ho - came as a result of my isolation being shattered. It comes from outside me, and that's all I need to be able to say about it. This part is about rebalancing myself, my malformed ego. I balance it - offset its negative qualities - with something other than me, and now that I do it I'm very glad that desperation forced me to undertake something I wouldn't otherwise have done.

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?

The source of motivation? Myself obviously. I either changed or I died. By taking full responsibility for that choice, by making it honestly and genuinely, as opposed to self-pityingly and melodramatically, I was able to commence a process of catharsis - I only know this now, looking back of course. At the time it was too personal to be rational or considered. What sustains it? The company of other people who are undertaking the same process in their own way, using their own vocabularies. What do I rely on when I have doubts? Other people, my new sense of more appropriate self, the practises of tens of thousands of other alcoholics who got sober in AA. A proper scepticism, as opposed to the faux scepticism I used to have - I doubt everything, except whether I am right.
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Old 07-03-2006, 10:33 AM
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All the replies on this thread are very interesting--thanks, folks!

I found this line especially intriguing:

Originally Posted by paulmh
... I was able to commence a process of catharsis - I only know this now, looking back of course. At the time it was too personal to be rational or considered. ....
I think you've described what a lot of people go through there, paul.
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Old 07-03-2006, 02:27 PM
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What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

I was a teenager in San Francisco in the 60's. I took drugs because I could. They were everywhere and I wanted to be included in that movement. My current spiritual beliefs were founded during my first few LSD experiences... I will never regret those experiences. They were'nt lies. They still sustain me today without the drug. However then came along the 1980's and I got nabbed by cocaine (and alcoholic husband) and then switched seats on The Titanic by using booze and crank.

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

The power for my change came from facing death and insanity head on. Anything was better than where I found myself both emotionally and physically. I found the power to change by exhausting my addiction. I didn't know what I wanted, I only knew that I didn't want to be where I was.

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?

My motivation to change came not only from being close to death but also from the fact that booze/drugs no longer worked. I didn't get high anymore. I only existed. I was no longer drinking the booze, the booze was drinking me. I wanted the demons off my back. Even in the depths of my various addictions I never thought of myself as a selfish person... I knew I was a victim but I couldn't see how selfish prolonging and projecting that image of myself was. Because a fellow drunk took the time out of her busy life to help me examine my behavior (12 Steps) I discovered that in the past I had made some terrible choices for myself. Those choices got me where I was. I didn't have a clue WHO I was for quite some time but as the chemical fog lifted I began to realize myself once again. I don't have many doubts or ambivalences about my recovery. In the AA program I took only what I wanted and left the rest.

The miracle of my recovery is that I am now aware of my selfishness and dishonestly and my only concern for the rest of my life is to NEVER be an azzhole again. Not being an azzhole just means I think of other people beside myself. A simple concept but one I would've never thought about when I was in the depths of the chithole victimization pity pot I once called my life with booze.
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Old 07-08-2006, 06:26 PM
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Very interesting thread and inspiring answers.

What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

Excess, anger, arrogance and hurt channeled the wrong way. Being a victim. I was raised by artists parents who lived all over Europe, mostly in France and Spain. They were civil rights activists as well (we lived for a while under the dictatorship of Franco in Spain). I grew up believing danger, excitement and drugs, etc were the reason for living and when I suffered deep trauma I lashed out by using drugs. I was a juvenile delinguent, lived on the streets in many European cities, did illegal things, was arrested.

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

I did not want to live the life of a criminal. I wanted to become a useful person and I wanted to function in society. I met a very spiritual person on my travels who told me all these negative emotions, anger and hatred could be channeled in a postive way. He suggested I try to write fiction instead of using drugs; of joining a civil rights organization instead of being hateful. I decided to become a writer and work for civil rights, which I do today.
I didnīt go into rehab or anything. I just stopped my drugtaking by going on cold turkey, which is the most terrible thing I have experienced. I used Valium and alchohol to relieve some of my withdrawal symptoms. It took 7 to 8 months in awful pain to get rid of the dope. Then I stopped drinking and taking pills and it took a while too.
I just got disgusted with this way of life and had a strong urge to go on living. This I thank my upbringing, an adventurous life in spite of itīs danger aspects.

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?

I had nothing to sustain me at first, so I was still very angry. I discovered AA and a number of twelve step groups. I didnīt believe in anything, so my sponsor suggested I use the group as my higher power until I would find something else. I used nature. I love to travel and I believe the wonders of nature I enjoy on my travels, plus my creative work, civil rights work and teaching at the University helps to keep me sober. I would not want to put my career in jeopardy because of my daughter and my 8 year old niece, who I raise. Each time I get the urge, I think of them. I also think of the horrors I went through while I was using, and then the pain I went through alone while of ridding myself of the drugs and alcohol.

What I rely on is my higher power, which is a mixture of many of the above things, but also my inner strength and the support of my friends inside and outside of the programme. The steps are very helpful, therapy has been so and so. Some therapists have urged me to use cognitive therapy and I am restisting at the moment, maybe because thatīs exactly what I need. ,-

Love and light,
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Old 07-08-2006, 08:15 PM
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Clancy --

Your post could be mine -- although I live in the Pacific Northwest (USA) and have bio kids instead of step kids. One of my greatest fears is -- maybe I'm an incredibly boring, shallow person that was funny and outgoing because I was buzzing on alcohol, Ritalin, whatever. How can I possibly interact with our regular group of friends (couples who KNOW to stop after a beer or two) when it seems every activity -- BBQ, birthdays, waterskiing, snowboarding, dinner out -- revolves around alcohol? Do I have to hook up with conservative religious types that prohibit alcohol? Make friends with 12 year olds? Hit the liver transplant ward at the hospital to find companions that won't be drinking? I'm kidding, but not really. I have not been out socially since I quit drinking April 23, and even when my hubby and I went to dinner, everyone around us was having wine, cocktails, beer....

My drinking habits were 80% situational (out with friends, at dinner, hot summer days), and I fear putting myself in a position where my usual craving becomes overwhelming. But I digress....
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Old 07-09-2006, 05:07 PM
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Great thread!
What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?
I was raised in an environment where self medicating irresponsibly was the norm, added to being in HS in the 70s, playing in a band, etc... The recreational use of cocaine became a staple in my daily diet, then it became an addition.
Where do you believe the power comes from to change?
When I faced the reality of the consequences fast approaching me. The power came from myself.
What is the source of motivation to change,
Didn't like the direction my life was heading in.
what sustains it
Forgot all about it basically. After about two years of struggeling w/ abstinence, the urges dissapeared as I moved on with my life. Jobs, family, kids. Been clean since 1983.
and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?
Never really thought about it. I guess I regarded it as another life, a life time ago.
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Old 12-15-2008, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Don S View Post
Some questions have come my way over the years about sobriety from people who have what I call 'faith-based world views'. So I thought I'd throw them out for discussion....

What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?
bump!
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:23 AM
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What do you believe caused your substance abuse behavior?

I don’t think it is possible to pin point one specific thing that caused my alcohol abuse other than loving the way alcohol made me feel. For me that is the bottom line. I could give a hundred “reasons” why I drank...hard childhood...bad marriage...you get my drift but in the end I loved the buzz...I abused alcohol until it started to abuse me. It was at that point...years before I quit...that I could not fix the connection in my brain. I believe I re-wired my brain to reach for alcohol to deal with any emotion...good or bad.


Where do you believe the power comes from to change?

Change is hard but it must come from within. Without a belief in oneself a state of hopelessness sets in and decays the soul. Having faith outside of oneself does not negate nor remove the importance of self reliance.


What is the source of motivation to change, what sustains it, and what do you rely on when you have doubts or ambivalence?

Freedom is my source of motivation...freedom from pain, guilt, shame, remorse and regret. Freedom to finally move about my own life without fear. Freedom to become who I am not what I was.

Acknowledging the truth of my condition sustains me...There is no debate nor question in my mind that I can ever drink again. Took me a long time to get there but I am there.

During the times when I feel ambivalent a trip down memory lane is usually enough for me. I never want to go back to the woman who loathed herself enough to want to die.
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:49 PM
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My abusive behavior started because substances are addictive. Alcohol and pills are addictive-anyone can potentially become dependent if they drink hard and long enough. Long term alcohol consumption causes changes in the brain which make it harder to quit. Also, because I would continue to associate drinking and using with positive memories, I continued to drink.

The power to stop using in my case comes from keeping in mind the positives of sobriety-health, sanity, relationships, jobs, yada yada . LOL

Thanks for letting me share!
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