Active recovery after rehab, lessons from 12 step programs

Discussion in 'General Addiction discussion' started by NeuroChi, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Platinum Member & Advisor

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012
  2. LACStoner

    LACStoner Silver Member

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    Nice post, it's encouraging to see someone doing as well as you are, and you seem to have a realistic outlook and be doing very well, that's a lot to be proud of.
    I'm currently at the beginning of getting off my many DOCs, I'm trying to do it alone, I've never been a big fan of counselling; I've really never been a fan of getting help from others, but after reading this I think I could try a program if I felt like I wasn't going to make it by myself. As much as I want to be self-reliant it's amazing how alone you feel when you're getting off drugs, when you realize how many of your relationships centered around a mutual desire to use, drug buddies who you don't have nearly as much in common with when you're sober. While I'm not entirely sold on 12-steps, your outlook seems like an intelligent and reasonable argument for structured support, and again your progress is really inspiring.
    "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. "
    Wow, very few things I've ever read have hit home as hard as that.
     
  3. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Platinum Member & Advisor

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    I tried to do it alone many many many times in many many different ways. I couldn't do it, because they were all my way and it turns out that my ways don't work. My ways got me addicted, and kept me there. I had to give up, realize that my way was shit, and do it another way. One way that I could see was working was the 12 steps, and I wanted it to work for me, and so far it sure has started to.

    I wanted to be self-reliant to - but I had never been self-reliant before, so what made me think I could be? I needed help from addicts in recovery, sober ones, that had shit figured out.

    Great to hear you're starting on the right path. The only path that leads to life, rather than a jail, institution, or death.
     
  4. ZenobiaSky

    ZenobiaSky Queen of Zen

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    Great insight to the program. I also just completed 28 days at an Inpatient facility. I had been 14 years clean when I started back on amphetamines. I had never tried the 12 steps before, but obviously what I was trying didn't work. I was at the point where I knew I couldn't quit on my own, inpatient was my only option, and it literally saved my life.

    Your so right about it being easy while in treatment, but then you go home. It's like you've been stripped of every way you've ever had to deal with life and left to figure it out on your own. When I got clean I realized I was Very angry and hurt. Once I realized why and that I hadn't dealt with some things, instead I did more drugs. Thank god for the program to help guide us. I am currently working on step 4, talk about anxiety. I have yet to make it to a meeting, but I know it's something I need to do, I won't make it without following through.

    Good luck to you, and remember, one day at a time. I have my 24 hour medallion that I always keep it on me to remind me of this. Don't forget what brought you to the point of going to treatment, and "it works if you work it". I truly hope your post helps others that are considering treatment and helps them ease into the unknown of treatment and the 12 steps.
     
  5. NeuroChi

    NeuroChi is not his mind Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Not entirely on my own. I had many numbers to call/txt, many addicts in recovery to talk to. I couldn't have ever done it on my own, and I sure as hell tried. It's important to realize, recognize those feelings that made us use. That's half the battle. The other half being processing them, telling someone about them, and working through them rather than around them.
    If you've never been to a meetings then I assume you don't have a sponsor, and if you don't have a sponsor than you can't be on step 4. The book of AA was written by the first 100 people to have recovered, and right from the beginning when Bill W. had his drink obsession relieved (page xv) it was during a meeting with another recovered alcoholic.

    We can't do it alone. We get sick alone, but get healthy together. You might be able to "white knuckle" it for months, or years, even 25 years as one person did but you won't be happy doing it, you'll be irritable, restless, and discontent. You need to get a sponsor, and you need to go to meetings to achieve a state of recovery whereby you will be freed from the obsession to use.