I completed a 35 day in patient treatment program 3 weeks ago tomorrow, and the 5 weeks in treatment were relatively easy. One of the other patients there told me that it really didn't begin when I walked in the door - it begins once I walk out the door, back into the real world. He was absolutely right. They (the addiction counselors) did an excellent job of pulling out some of the feelings locked away inside, looking at the causes of the problem, and helping us along with the first step of AA/NA/CA/GA/SLAA/ AnyA (12 step program). To be an addict is to be powerless over addiction to the point where life becomes unmanageable [p. 59, Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous]. Drugs and alcohol were not the problem - they were my temporary solution - because without them I was restless, irritable, and discontent [p. xxviii] and seemingly without a reason for being so. I found that I preferred even opioid withdrawal over sobriety, because at least it was consistent. If I felt like shit, I knew why. And when I felt good, I felt really good. I hated the constant fluctuation of emotions I experienced, when sober, were completely out of my control. I couldn't handle what was life on lifes terms. I learned something very helpful in rehab, and that was that addiction is a disease. I thought I understood this before but not until I was faced to look at my own life and the way this disease had manifested itself in my every day experience did I actually believe it. According to the scientific community, this disease presents itself in three characteristic symptoms which are in the addiction wiki: (1) continued use despite negative consequences (ie. damage to health, financial loss, relational problems) (2) loss of control (ie. in limiting intake, use of more than planned, use when inappropriate) (3) preoccupation/obsession (ie. thinking about the drug throughout the day, obsession around acquiring and using the drug). According to the fellowship of AA, this can be boiled down to the insanityan addict experiences in their active addiction. A story of an individual with a passion of jay-walking paints the picture [p 37-38], where an individual continues to do so even though he hit by cars time and time again, sustaining ever more grave injuries, yet continuing to do so. How many addicts quit every day, and then start up again the next day, despite the negative consequences? Every one of us suffer from some level on insanity in this regard, for doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Only an addict can truly help another addict, and this is why the fellowship works, and why treatments centers don't have one on one counseling. We can call each other on our shit. In addiction we get sick alone, but we get healthy together. I could be in a room full of addicts or by my self, but I was always alone, and I didn't think anyone knew how I really felt. Then I met other sober addicts, in recovery, and I learned we all suffered from the same disease. No amount of clean time cures us. I've spoken to people who had more than a decade clean, and upon picking up the first drink or drug, relapsed. I was never able to get any stretch of clean time because I always thought "If I'm going to drink one day, I might as well drink today." The fact is that I don't know if I'll drink or use tomorrow, I can't commit to a week or a year or a lifetime of sobriety. But I can commit to today. I can say I'll fall asleep sober tonight. I can manage one day at a time, and I hope that when I wake up tomorrow I'll make the same decision. And If I can't commit to a day, I'll do one hour at a time. Whatever I can handle at that moment. It's a simple program for complicated people. We have to keep it simple. If I allow principles to govern my decisions, I don't need to deliberate the answer for hours on end. I used to think that feelings were real, and I now know that some of them might be, a lot of them are not. But most important, none of them can kill me. None of them directly threatens my life if I don't let them, if I don't use over them. I know that this too shall pass, this moment will be gone and another will take its place. Much like a cancer patient can't skip their chemo, or a diabetic can't decide not to take their insulin, I can't decide I won't call my sponsor, or I'll skip a meeting, if that's what I need at the time. They're medications for my disease. If I'm not working on my recovery, I'm working on a relapse. This disease can go into remission like many others, and can flare up if I loose focus of my goals. Easy does it, but I have to do it. I've heard people say that treatment didn't work, or 12 step meetings don't work, or whatever doesn't work. And they won't work if you don't actually give into it, and do it. Rehab only has a 10% success rate because only 10% of addicts actually do it.