Treatment - Help me understand why addicts count their days sober??

Discussion in 'Psychological & social' started by Booty love, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. Booty love

    Booty love Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,420
    Messages:
    3,129
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    40 y/o from Some Beach, Somewhere:)))))
    Something i have always questioned, is why a person thinks counting the days clean of their DOC, helpful?? To me it just shows the persons love for the drug. Plus if and when the person slips up and uses again, its all boo hoo, back to day one. It gives the perception of some numerical goal, also the perception of having to start all over again, if you slip up, and we all will slip up, you can't be afraid of relapsing, you need to be afraid of not leaning something from a relapse.
    I used to count days, days in jail, days without my family! Those days are worth counting. However, days away from slavery, just doesn't make sense to me.
     
  2. baZING

    baZING Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    4,305
    Messages:
    1,001
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    from U.S.A.
    Some people find counting days gives them more impetus to stay clean, like, "I've been clean for a week, I can be clean for eight days" in the beginning, or "I've been clean for 8 months... I can make it to a year" as time goes on (etc.).

    Some people need the motivation of having an anniversary to celebrate.

    Reverting the time back to day one after a relapse forces the user to take responsibility for their actions, if counting days was important in the first place. If they're not already counting days, then it's not back to literal "day one".

    It also, simply, tracks progress. Some people want to know exactly how long they've been clean because every hour is a victory.

    Everything we do in recovery, especially early on, is just mental games to keep our minds off the drugs. After years and years of what feels like failure, counting days gives us the cold, hard, measurable proof of new success.

    edit: outside brings up a really good point, that not all who count days revert to day one on a relapse. There are so many ways to handle a relapse with regards to counting, you can start over, keep counting "minus one," just skip the day(s) you've relapsed and move on with your count, etc. While any one of these may seem "wrong" to someone else, it doesn't matter. In the end all of these-- including the decision to count days at all-- are a very personal matter and will ultimately have to be what's best for each particular person who in is recovery.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  3. outside365

    outside365 Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    600
    Messages:
    229
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2013
    37 y/o from earth
    baZING said it very well. Personally, I counted the days for the first few months, mainly because the cravings were always on my mind. It is a big deal to sober up for a lot of addicts. It was always on my mind, so for me, counting was all I had to give me hope at first. After six months I quit counting the days and just count weeks and months.

    If one relapses, they could start the days over or they can continue counting and add the relapse into the total number. If I have a hundred days clean and then relapse, it doesn't void the days I had before. I try to learn from it, pick up and move on. Often, relapse is part of recovery and counting does help with motivation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  4. Booty love

    Booty love Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,420
    Messages:
    3,129
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    40 y/o from Some Beach, Somewhere:)))))
    I can see counting the days at first, because there is still love for the drug. Much the same way a person who is dumped by one they love. Counts the days after. Once you find somebody else, those days mean nothing. I believe to truly be free of an addictive substance, you must forget the time spent away from it. Only then can one be truly free.
     
  5. baZING

    baZING Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    4,305
    Messages:
    1,001
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    from U.S.A.
    Sure, that's what works best for you. What gives you the right to say that's the case for someone else? How can you possibly say, well you're still counting days 10 years later so you can't possibly be "free"? (Note: you obviously did not say this verbatim, but from your post it certainly sounds like that's how you feel.) Different people have different definitions of such a loaded word, and freedom is relative. If the only traces left of a decades-long heroin addiction is the counting of days sober, I'd say that's about as close to "free," if not freer than many active addicts can ever hope to be.

    I also think you're being quite presumptuous, as many addicts who have been clean for decades do not necessarily count day in and day out, but remain well aware of their big anniversaries. So, they must retain a certain knowledge of their time spent sober without obsessing the way someone early in recovery might. Hell, when I got off coke I really did have to count the hours the first week.

    I'm not really seeing your correlation between counting days and a love for the drug. Perhaps you see it that way, but I hardly think you can generalize such feelings to all recovering addicts. Indeed, those first few weeks clean are often the time that those in recovery come to learn how terrible their DofC really is. If you're going to compare drug addiction to a relationship, it would be an abusive one, and when people finally snap out of those I do not particularly think most are looking back with much fondness-- at least once the spell is broken.

    I admire your curiosity, but it seems to me that since you don't see the value in counting days, you never really will. Perhaps you should be aiming to simply accept that some people find it beneficial to their recovery, rather than endeavoring to understand why that is so.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  6. TheBigBadWolf

    TheBigBadWolf Imperial Wizzard Gold Member Donating Member

    Reputation Points:
    13,297
    Messages:
    7,337
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    from Germany, Federal Republic of
    I have been asked by my psychologist in rehab to make a write-up what I felt for my drug fo choice .. and what I realized was that it was indeed grief.
    Now don't someone get me wrong - it is of course not grieving for the substance, but ofr my addicted personality, it is a piece of myself- a big piece of who I was during that time.
    Look, booty,- I have this thing with my addiction to injecting.. it qwill be two years in a few days and that is something to feast, in my view.
    I'm not at all wanting that time back - what I find is that the remembering of something lost can give me the view of what I have found instead.

    BBW
     
  7. jazzyj9

    jazzyj9 Titanium Member Donating Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,300
    Messages:
    872
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2012
    from U.S.A.
    Every day free from addiction (slavery) is a major milestone and for those who struggle with addiction should be proud of that! Their friends and families should be proud also.

    After a few years away from my DOC, it became less and less of something I would even think about. I only had a couple years of use, but there are some addicts who stop 20 year habits and that is impressive and I can only imagine it might take longer for the thoughts of the drug to drop into the background.

    I think once a person reaches the point where they don't even think about the drug anymore, they are well established in their recovery.

    jazzyj9 added 8 Minutes and 26 Seconds later...

    Interesting that you mention that because that is what I realized too for myself anyway, was that I was grieving a loss of who I was in the past. I was grieving my younger self, the part of my identity that didn't care about rules or consequences. It wasn't so much actually using the drug, because in retrospect it really wasn't that great (I've had a lot more fun doing other things), but it was the period of time in my life and hanging out with friends and the culture I had become a part of that I missed most.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  8. Booty love

    Booty love Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,420
    Messages:
    3,129
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    40 y/o from Some Beach, Somewhere:)))))
    I apologize if my words were taken to mean something negative. You said it yourself Bazing, every hour is precious. As a recovered addict myself i have no room to judge how one goes about their recovery, and nor would i. I'm just happy they are trying, to put themselves in a position to take back their life, their freedom. I just wanted some clarification from others, on what exactly the point of counting days was. You guys have given me exactly what i was looking for. I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers. Just curiosity, thats all.
     
  9. TheBigBadWolf

    TheBigBadWolf Imperial Wizzard Gold Member Donating Member

    Reputation Points:
    13,297
    Messages:
    7,337
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    from Germany, Federal Republic of
    I think if an ex-addict ever reaches this point they are well established in complacency and nearer to relapse than they might ever think (what they don't- cause they feel well established)

    At least that is what I experienced, it came in the moment I was thinking about a new job/housing/life I had begun and not of where I come from.
    This uncaring, unconsequentialpart of myself is not gone. it will be there still in thirty years if i live them,- and it is waiting for the possibility to come back up cause it is an egoist and wants their fun much rather than think of the consequences any behaviour has...

    we must not forget where we came from.


    And for this also, counting days/weeks/months/years is a tool. nothing else.

    BBW
     
  10. jazzyj9

    jazzyj9 Titanium Member Donating Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,300
    Messages:
    872
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2012
    from U.S.A.
    I think everyone is different and you have a point about not forgetting. It was a little different for me because the negative consequences were too great for me to ever go back. It's different for some people who can actually "tolerate" their DOC.
     
  11. GreyPaws

    GreyPaws Palladium Member Sponsor

    Reputation Points:
    1,130
    Messages:
    354
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    from U.S.A.
    I find it strange that the OP, a self proclaimed 'devoted' DF 'family' member, would have a hard time with this concept. Quite a few of the recovery journals posted here on DF go into great detail about the reason people quit, why they keep track of the progress they have made, and what feelings they deal with as they move further and further away from living with addiction. I cant think of a single successful recovery story posted here that implies keeping track of sober days out of "love" for the drug.

    I also feel using language like "..and when the person slips up and uses again, its all boo hoo, back to day one.." marginalizes people struggling with recovery and implies that they somehow feel sorry for themselves. While it is certainly easy for someone in recovery to beat themselves up over the time they spent being ill/addicted, I find that most successful stories show people who are unwilling to dwell on the past and sit around feeling sorry for themselves.

    As far as lapses and relapses go, even though they are somewhat "common," not every recovering person slips up. Some have the proper support networks, medication, and outlook on life to keep the former DOC out of the picture once sobriety is attained. Since we are on the topic, today is 91 days sober for me and my spouse, I find that keeping track helps me better understand how far along my brain might be physically in terms of rewiring/healing. I have not had a single positive or nostalgic thought about heroin since quitting, and in the last 6-8 months of abusing the drug, before getting sober, I grew to hate pretty much everything about it, taste, smell, all the crap associated with trying to score it and stave off WD, it was not a love affair, I was just stuck. Hope that helps you better understand the topic, and I highly recommend reading through the recovery sections of DF.
     
  12. Booty love

    Booty love Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,420
    Messages:
    3,129
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    40 y/o from Some Beach, Somewhere:)))))
    I guess i might have come off as a bit brash, i'm just so passionate about complete recovery from addiction. I have also counted days off crack. There was a time when i was proud of myself for making it in to work 2 weeks in a row. Now, i wasn't clean for 2 weeks, i just made it in to work 10 days in a row. The following monday i ended the streak. There was also a short period of time when i wAs in aa, and they got me into counting days. I got a white chip, i think? I don't remember, but i didn't get another one and i don't lie to my own kind. You know?

    When i joined the air force, my addiction took a different schedule as i was 2,1/2 hours away from some dope, so i started going on 3 day binges about twice a month. So 10-15 days in between use wasn't a big deal. Hell, i needed $100 alone in gas money to go there and get back. And i wouldn't make the trip for less than 2-2.5 grams. Before the air force, i got my paycheck every friday, plus i got stuff for others, so i never went more than 2-3 days without at least dime piece. The air force paid twice a month and so i had to adapt to the conditions. Thats when i realized the excitement of knowing your going to get it, was more fun than the stuff itself, plus i made a shit load more money. Someone was appointed to stay up and serve me. Seriously! Thats how you treat a big spender. I was paranoid in the bathroom and they would stay up and watch tv.

    Anyhoo, in january 2008, really the last time i smoked crack was november 2007. In january of 2008 i ran into an old smoker, i ask, he came through, except he didn't. He sold me sheet rock. Drywall!! I never counted again because i had 2 months ruined by fake shit. Because it wasn't the dope or lack there of, it was the actions i did to obtain it. I was finished with dope, that was also a year before my son came along and its a good thing he did because i needed the responsibility or i may never had anything else to focus on other than time.

    Bazing, bbw- you are df hero's to me, that may sound crazy but to me it makes sense. I am just a guy, with terrible anxiety, in bum fucked Arkansas and i see you both counsel others so well with there addictions and recovery. But you constantly battle with ya'lls. Nobody wants to see that their hero's are also human.
    I know you both can get to the point where you can't even remember the day you last used. You have the tools and the knowledge but you might just need to find something to keep your mind and body busy.
     
  13. It'sOn

    It'sOn Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    365
    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    66 y/o from U.S.A.
    I love racking up days! I like converting them to weeks, then months. The New York Times currently has an article on folks celebrating cancer treatment completion anniversaries. All kinds of anniversaries are celebrated and a sober notation of an hour, day, week or year is a colossal deal. Lives are saved. Healing occurs. Relationships are built or restored.

    Counting sober time acknowledges a turning point in a life that was rife with pain. A chance to be a grown up in the world and get some measure of satisfaction. Being smothered with drugs/alcohol previous to day one obliterated that possibility.

    I'm very sorry you conclude sobriety isn't possible, that everyone relapses after every quit. There just wouldn't be a point to this forum if that was the case, if there was no hope. Addicts can and do get sober for years, a lifetime. The addictionologist Drew Pinsky recently said he thinks success rates are under reported. While success comes after a period of 'failure' it will finally happen. It is a choice.

    It starts on Day One. Count and celebrate the victory.
     
  14. baZING

    baZING Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    4,305
    Messages:
    1,001
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    from U.S.A.
    Really, I think like many things in recovery, the underlying and overarching response to this thread is simply that recovering addicts must do and think of things however works best for them.

    I quoted the above because a similar situation happened to me, except it wasn't 2 months "ruined," it was four and a half years. I picked up some what-I-thought-was-cocaine from someone on campus to return home and find out it was some unknown powder that had been mixed with a topical anesthetic. I was ashamed with myself, but in the end I consumed no cocaine. I stole no money. The only person I hurt, that time, was myself. So I refused to give up my 4.5 years, learned from my mistake, haven't been back, and still feel comfortable calling it the 7 years clean off coke it now is.

    You may not agree with me in that situation, but it doesn't matter whatsoever. There are many topics on which I greatly value others' opinion but I know in the end, my abstinence from cocaine is mine and mine alone just like it is for everyone else. If calling that relapse a 'sign from the universe' (one that ultimately did not end in me consuming cocaine) is what keeps me clean, that's what I'm going to continue to do... You know? Honestly, I think if I had done what you had done after all that time I would have been so despondent that I'd be right back to the coke.

    Point is, as I touched upon in my other posts in here, counting days is no different than anything else an addict does to keep themselves away and what works for one, might not work for another. I once knew a man who had a humongous heroin habit. In order to get clean, he would literally flush the amount he spent on heroin daily down the toilet. Every day. For a month. Hundreds of dollars a day. Most people couldn't even fathom that because there are so many other things that money could have been used for. In his mind, though, it was going down a toilet one way or another, so he might as well make it what it is. Now he's been sober for five years.
     
  15. Booty love

    Booty love Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,420
    Messages:
    3,129
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    40 y/o from Some Beach, Somewhere:)))))
    I used powder cocaine in december 2010. I did not consider it a relapse because: 1. It wasn't crack 2. I told no lie to anyone to make it happen, it cost me no money 3. I had to find out if the paranoia was still there after 3 years. I did 3-4 lines and was done. I didn't want anymore. The more in life you have to lose, the more paranoid your thoughts will be. I didn't do anymore and left and sat in the walmart parking lot for 2 hours till i came down, drove home and never look back for another period of years.

    In fact, bazing, my first relapse since jan 2008 came mid september 2013. The drug, methamphetamine. Now do i have an issue with meth, no, i just had life kick me in the balls one too many times that month. And i broke down and got fucked up. 2 grams, 4 day binge, lied, took money we didn't have and missed my daughters first birthday party, finally ending with a broke foot and a 6 day stay at a mental health hospital.
    That was the first time i put a reality escape over my family.
    That was a relapse, and i'm just thankful for my family because without them, and marijuana, i couldn't stay away from meth. A crack heads dream drug, but none the less addictive.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016
  16. una_cavaletta

    una_cavaletta Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    555
    Messages:
    324
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    from U.K.
    One thing that I would add about counting days is that sometimes it means counting TO as well as from. My example being that last week, I had a really bad couple of days where I was terribly anxious and very low. I was struggling to eat and take care of myself and had very little energy, but I was also counting TO the 16th of this month which marked 18 months without alcohol. And yes, I made it - anxious and scared and unwell, but sober.

    In a real sense, some days I count the minutes and hours (that certainly was the case earlier on in my recovery) and some days I don't think about it at all. The next big goal would be 2 years, but until then there is today and the 18 months and change I've got under my belt.
     
  17. cren

    cren Titanium Member Donating Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,000
    Messages:
    250
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    from earth
    I understand Booty If I can quit I will never look back I hate who I am and where I am at I will never count days just look forward because I want to be free, and I will live a healthy life. But what ever works for someone I guess
     
  18. been_there

    been_there Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    60
    Messages:
    110
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    from U.S.A.
    I had a friend that was a recovering alcoholic.. I brewed beer and he was fascinated by the process.. He was watching me bottle it and he said.. man, I'd like to try that.. it looks great.. I told to go ahead.. He told me he couldn't as he had been sober for 8 years, X days.. and every time something crappy went down in his life, he had that to fall back on. If he drank some now, tomorrow he could say that he's been sobor for a day.. I guess that't the whole AA chip thing..
     
  19. Booty love

    Booty love Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    1,420
    Messages:
    3,129
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    40 y/o from Some Beach, Somewhere:)))))
    The whole chip reward thing just seems like a tool used to keep people coming back. Plus you hopefully already feel bad about slipping, but to then have to start all over at the first chip. It just seems like salt in the wound.
     
  20. been_there

    been_there Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    60
    Messages:
    110
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    from U.S.A.
    I know that when I am dieting, it is usually easier to do once I've got a few weeks behind me and lost a couple of pounds. You have that to fall back on when you are vulnerable.. I respectfully disagree. :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 24, 2014