Memorial Day is primarily a day when those of us in the U.S. remember the men and women who have served, fought, and died in the name of liberties we hold dear. For me to even be able to write and publish this blog, numerous people have gone before me and labored under harsh, even fatal, conditions.
For addicted people, there is a similar history. There are men and women who have served, fought, and died in the name of recovery from addiction. There was a time in the not-too-distant past in which treatment for alcoholism and addiction resembled barbarism. Some methods resembled water-boarding. Others involved straight jackets. Electro-shock therapy was even employed for difficult cases. These weren’t quacks employing these methods either. The best minds in modern medicine were at a loss to free people who were suffering from addiction.
It’s important to realize that I’m not talking about merely stacking 24 hours without using on top of another 24 hours without using; I’m talking about true freedom from addiction. For a true addict (a person who isn’t simply a recreational user or a heavy user) life is divided into four phases. At any given time the addict exists in one of these four phases:
1) Trying to use
3) Recuperating from using
4) Trying not to use.
Many addicts suffered and died at the hands of well-intentioned professionals who struggled to find an effective way to help an addict fortify and maintain phase four.
Unfortunately, being really good at “trying not to use” doesn’t resonate as freedom to a true addict and under this method there are often only two realistic outcomes: misery or relapse — often both!
Despite the persistence of some past mindsets and methods (the “rational choice” model of addiction, and the use of Electro-shock therapy among them) much progress has been made and continues to be made in the area of offering true freedom from addiction to those who suffer.
Where the prognosis once would have been “The bad news is you’re an addict, the good news is you won’t live with it much longer”, now the prognosis could easily be “The bad news is you’re an addict, the good news is there is a solution…. However, you may not be too happy about it.”
Why would an addict not be too happy about there being a solution? Provided he or she actually wants to quite, a reason the solution may seem unbearable is the inherent involvement of the addict adopting a spiritual way of life. This could explain the persistence of past mindsets and methods, both among professionals as well as addicts. Very few people are anxious to admit that a medically classifiable problem can have such an intangible (spiritual) solution. I mean, how do you submit “God will change this person’s psyche” on a health insurance claim?
…but I digress.
The important thing to remember here is that, through several distinct twists of fate (read “acts of God” by those so inclined), a simple religious program of moral philosophy was reoriented in such a way as to present itself mildly, yet effectively, to those who may feel a spiritual way of life to be beyond reach — namely, most addicts.
Yet, despite all of these advances many addicts are still dying today. Some are presented with “new and improved” methods of stacking one day of abstinence on top of another. Others try to invent their own “new and improved” methods. Yet, still others die because they are simply never presented with a spiritual solution.
These are the fallen soldiers that I remember too. They die for a different freedom. Some of them may have been nameless, faceless, voiceless, even hopeless… but for those who enjoy true freedom from addiction, their deaths will never be meaningless.
Ever feel concerned about your recovery?
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.