In order to beat drug or alcohol addiction you are going to have rearrange your entire life.
They have a saying in AA meetings: “The only thing that you have to change is everything.” People who have successfully overcome drug or alcohol addiction are spouting this off as if it were wisdom, because they find it to be true in their experience. Every person who has successfully conquered their addiction can look back and say “Yes, I really did have to change everything.”
What I want to convince you of today is not that you need to do one specific thing in order to recover, but that you need to have the right mindset and the right attitude towards the recovery process itself.
I want you to think back in your life to the biggest challenge that you have ever overcome. Think back to the absolute hardest thing you ever had to do, and how you persevered and got through that challenge.
Beating addiction or alcoholism is at least a hundred times harder than whatever that was.
In other words, if you think back to the time in your life when you put forth your most serious effort, when you think back to the time in your life when you struggled the hardest and persevered the most, then I want you to multiply that effort by about 100 and apply that to your current situation in terms of addiction and recovery.
When you finally decide to surrender to a recovery solution, you must do so with the attitude that you are fully committed to the recovery process, that you are “all in,” that you are going to try harder at this recovery thing then you have ever tried before in your life.
Keep this in mind–this intense level of effort and commitment. Recognize that it is far greater and far more intense than any effort you have ever put forth in your past.
What I want you to realize is that this has to be your level of commitment if you really want to change your life. Anything less than this intense effort and willingness is going to result in relapse.
It is so much easier to just go get high or drunk. It is so much easier to revert back to our drug of choice. It is so much easier to reach for our old solution.
When we were addicted to our drug of choice, we used that drug for everything. It became our solution for everything. If we were happy, we used. If we were sad, we used. If we were afraid or frustrated with our emotions, we used. Every problem or challenge in life could be answered by getting drunk or high. We had our solution and we used it for everything.
So in order to recover you are going to have dedicate your life to finding new solutions. Which means that you need to seek answers outside of yourself. Which means that you need to be humble enough to admit that you do not have all of the answers.
When I finally surrendered I had to humble myself enough to say “I need to go back to inpatient treatment.” I had been to rehab twice before and I knew that I needed at least that much help again if I was going to turn my life around. I knew that I needed to do something different. And more than anything, I knew that I did not have the answers. I did not know the solution. I was lost, because I thought that I could find happiness in booze and drugs, and that had ultimately failed me. I had reached a point of misery in which I had to admit that the drugs and the booze was no longer making me happy. I was trapped and I wanted out. Please show me the way out of this addiction.
So I went to rehab and I started to listen and I started to learn. This was a very slow process at first. I had been living in misery and during my first few weeks of recovery, I wondered if I would ever be happy again. My fear was that if I could not use drugs or alcohol that I would just be sad for the rest of my life. I was honestly afraid of this.
But I knew if I relapsed that I would just go back to the misery and the chaos. I had finally accepted the fact that using and drinking brought me only misery. I finally realized that. That was how I broke through my denial. I realized that sobriety was a risk, and it might not lead to happiness, but going back to addiction was certain misery. So it was worth the risk to sober up, to go to rehab, to see what that would do for me. I had to try something because the misery of addiction was killing me. I wanted out.
It took a few short months in early recovery to reach the “miracle moment.” This moment was defined by two things: First, I had a day in which I looked back at the end of that day and realized that I never had a single urge or craving to use drugs or drink. That was my first miracle moment. I thought that this was impossible, but it happened during the first 6 months of my sobriety.
The second part of this was when I realized that I was happy again, that I was free, that I was excited to be living life again while I was clean and sober. Again, this was somewhere in the first 6 months. And I almost fell to my knees and wept with gratitude when I realized this. I thought it was impossible for me to be happy without drugs and alcohol, and yet here I was, clean and sober, and feeling happy and free. It was a miracle.
This freedom and joy prompted me to “double down” on the recovery process.
That recovery process consisted of me surrendering and listening to others and taking suggestions from them. I never thought that listening to other people could ever lead me to happiness, but that was exactly what happened in early recovery. I started taking advice, I started doing what my sponsor and my therapist told me to do, and things just kept getting better and better.
When you “live right” in recovery and you slowly build up a life of positive action, the benefits that you get from that are fairly stable. They don’t just disappear overnight. The one exception to this is if you relapse. If you relapse then all of your progress gets wiped out instantly.
But the life that you build in recovery is fairly stable because you are basing it on positive growth and finding solutions. So even though new challenges may pop up in your future–which they undoubtedly will for all of us–you can meet those challenges and you can find new solutions because you are living “right” in recovery.
That is the power of living in recovery, of living clean and sober, and of finding new solutions. The world can keep changing and evolving around us, and we will continue to seek new solutions and adapt to this changing world. Having the right attitude in recovery is critical for this. We need to stay humble and be open to see the lessons that are in front of us each day. We need to keep seeking the silver lining in things, to find the gratitude in every situation, and to see the warning signs that are there for us. This is how I was able to overcome addiction myself, and I have the same hope for you. Good luck!