Dealing with addiction is not a part time job.
Drug and alcohol addiction consume our entire lives, in so many ways, that it is just silly to think that we can somehow “deal with it” in the same way that we might “deal with a messy garage that needs cleaning.”
We can’t just deal with addiction in that way or even have that type of attitude about it or we are setting ourselves up for failure. A more appropriate description of the task at hand would be “fix my entire life.” That is more accurate in terms of the level of effort involved.
So in some cases we need to fix the language that we use for self-talk. To say “I need to fix my addiction” or “I need to take care of my drinking” is a gross understatement. More appropriate would be “I need to stop using drugs and create a new life for myself.”
If you want to know the best way to “deal with addiction,” look at examples of those who have done so successfully:
1) Someone who went to treatment and then deeply immersed themselves into the 12 step fellowship, attending 90 meetings in 90 days or even more while actively working with others in the program (including a sponsor). This person continues to be active in the fellowship on a daily basis and now sponsors a handful of people themselves.
2) Someone who lived in long term treatment for almost 2 years and has made holistic recovery a focal point of their life and work. This person also works full time with recovering addicts and alcoholics in a treatment center.
3) Someone in recovery who now works directly with struggling addicts, and also takes 12 step meetings into jails and institutions every single week.
These examples are all people that I know in recovery. Does it sound like they just slapped a solution on their addiction in order to recover? No….in each example, the person has changed their life through regular positive action. There is also a theme in those examples of reaching out and working with others in recovery.
It is not enough to simply involve yourself in a recovery program. That is a baseline that may or may not keep you sober. In order to experience meaningful recovery, you have to go beyond that with positive action.
What do we mean by “positive action?” Look at the examples again. They are focused on helping others and this gives their lives some purpose. They all have consistent action and helping others in recovery has become routine. It is part of their daily lives. And the people are not just having this positive action dropped into their lap. Instead, they actively create this new life for themselves. There is initiative involved.
Most of us are not thinking this far ahead if we are just making the decision to get clean and sober. But this is where it all ends up – you have to transition into a life of creative recovery. How are you going to bring meaning and purpose to your life in recovery? If you just stay sober and sit on the couch all day you run the risk of relapse due to boredom and complacency.
Dealing with addiction = Creating a new life of purpose.