Do you ever get the feeling you’ve been here before? You know, same s**t, different day? Groundhog Day, even?
Sometimes, the seemingly never ending attendance of meetings, group sessions and reading can make you think so… I don’t suppose for a moment I am the only one who has had this sensation. Bear with me…
The more “we” look into recovery from addiction, the more opinions we come across, the more questions we are posed and the more confused we can potentially become.
Addiction is a disease.
Addiction is not a disease.
(You get the picture).
At a recent talk on this very subject, I was left chewing over two seemingly irrefutable facts: that addiction is manifestly NOT a disease… and, furthermore, the key to recovery is sharing, and recognising the value of the environment we place ourselves in, the people we mix with and the way we “do stuff” that can help re-wire our brains for an addiction free future.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t go home and take up knitting, but I did reflect on what I could be doing with my time to positively aid my recovery. What could I read? Where could I go? What could I do?
Whilst musing on this I came across an article by Neil Firszt. Neil truly believes in the value of learning, and how it is what we do that can make hugely positive changes to how we recover.
I contacted Neil and asked if I could share his thoughts on here. Naturally, he said yes… I hope you find something in his words that can help put what you’re doing into perspective. Our recovery is in our hands… and, it seems, our heads…
Neil – thank you for sharing, and we look forward to hearing more from you soon!
Having major success with the process he used to overcome addiction and alcoholism, Neil realised that he has much to share. He failed repeatedly with 12 step and conventional recovery programs and knew that there had to be a better answer.
Neil believes that recovery should NOT take an entire lifetime to complete.
ALCOHOLISM & LEARNING
By Neil Firszt, June 22nd 2018. First published on Neil’s blog.
So, you’ve quit drinking and have now gone back to your old life. You wake up and do the same things you always do. Talk to the same people you always talk to. You watch the same shows you always watch. You eat the same diet and have the same thought about exercise that you’ve always had. You’re doing nothing new because you’re learning nothing new. The only thing that you’re doing different is that you’re NOT drinking.
How successful do you think you’re going to be by repeating the same actions that made you an alcoholic in the first place?
You’re going to meetings with the same people telling you how difficult of a time they’re having with alcoholism. You hear all their problems but can’t handle your own. Nobody is offering any real help because they are all in the same state as you are. One thing that gets repeated often is how many times someone has failed in the program but keeps coming back whenever they slip up.
Every relapse story has a connection to the last, and here you are in a weak state of mind, listening to all of the horrible possibilities of why someone has relapsed.
Most healthy people aren’t prepared to handle that type of drama so why would someone recovering from alcoholism be able to handle that same negativity? You are consistently hearing that you CAN’T recover. You ARE an alcoholic for life. It’s BEST to surrender to your addiction. The only HOPE is through struggle and anguish. WTF?!? It’s like you’re trying to run a race with cement shoes! I have no doubt that the 12-step model has good intentions and some points of the program do actually work, but there are too many contradictions with how the human mind works for it to really be effective.
Think of it like this… You’re trying to take alcohol out of your life, but you are surrounding yourself with people that are having the biggest struggles while dealing with alcoholism. You hear a story and think “What if that happened to me?” and end up putting yourself in their shoes, we do it with movies all the time.
You are reliving someone else’s experience over and over again in your head, thus, effectively telling your brain and your body that YOU are living in that damaging story. You are forcing your body to make the chemicals that cause more fear and more anxiety about drinking, so your body responds by continuing to feel like your situation has gotten worse and not better. How in the world is someone supposed to recover by putting themselves in that type of position? The major problem is that this is known as the BEST way to recover! People will even fight YOU about how YOU feel to keep you there because they never learned about the biology and chemical makeup of the human body, and let’s face it, misery loves company. The 12-step model needs to be updated for 2018 (just like any technology), and should be used as a tool, not a solution.
Stop fighting and start recovering.
Your brain likes to learn. That’s why you get so excited when you learn something new. Your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good and give you that accomplished feeling when you do. What you let it learn will affect the connections that it makes and what chemicals it will release as a result. If you’re learning how people get away with drinking or all the dumb stuff they did while they were drinking 3-4 nights per week in meetings, you are telling your brain and body that it’s okay to keep functioning like that.
Learning how hard it is for someone else, is teaching yourself how hard it will be for you. Have you ever watched a movie or a program and been inspired? You already have the ability to feel like that more often than not by continuing to learn and be inspired. Many of the stories that you hear in AA meetings may have the ability to lift you up and feel better about sobriety, but when the stories become too much (it means you’re not ready), and you start putting yourself in another human being’s shoes when they’re dangerously struggling with something like addiction, you’re just putting yourself in a position of failure. You are trying to swing the pendulum the other way when it comes to sobriety, but you are continuing to live in fear of your own experiences and now other people’s stories!
The pendulum needs to go drastically in the other direction, so you can balance out.
What you decide to learn is up to you. I decided to learn about the brain and body, so I can help other people overcome their addictions. It is very important to me because I have been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to feel like I’m at death’s door nervously waiting to get in. I know what it’s like to have no solutions or answers to many questions. My brain and body were working in conjunction with each other with the information I was giving myself.
For 40 years, I lived in the shadow of alcoholism and now I finally know what it’s like to get out of that shadow and start living my life. I am going to do everything I can to help others overcome their addictions because it’s a passion of mine and I get satisfaction from positive experiences. I did this at 40 years old and it can be done at 20, 30, 50, 60, and 70+ years old too, there are no limitations. I started thinking of my body like it’s a factory, and that everything that makes up my body are like little machines inside the factory that I must take care of. It helps me take to the emotion out of what it takes to be healthy because what it takes to be healthy is science, and my emotions are a collection of what I have learned my entire life, good or bad.
I’ve stepped out and observed myself from a different perspective and saw what I was doing to myself. This helped me to stop wrestling with my decisions and make choices based on human biological fact and not what someone says on TV because they’re getting paid to do so.
If you’ve made it to this point in the article you have already put these positive thoughts in your head, which is a good start. What you do from here is up to you.
Maybe start by reading some of the other articles that I wrote to find out where I came from and what I’m doing to continually improve my life without alcohol. I don’t write about the things that didn’t work for me! You don’t have to but if what you are doing currently isn’t working, it might be time to change something. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Thanks for reading!
Have a Powerful Day!
Neil writes about some of his deepest thoughts and feelings, and there’s also plenty of information on what he’s learning and how he believes it may help someone else who might be frustrated with their current progress while dealing with alcoholism, addiction, and or being overweight. His standpoint is simple: It doesn’t take a lot of money or a lifetime to cure yourself. It takes an open mind, some desire, and the knowledge that very soon, you will no longer struggle with addiction or alcoholism.
We’re not fighting a war on alcohol. We are looking inward, learning about ourselves, and putting forth the effort to make our own minds work for us and not against us.
About himself, Neil says:
“I’m not special, nor am I trying to be smarter or louder than anyone else, but I have taken the time to look at this, and act on it, from a completely different perspective and the results have been far better than positive. They have been life changing, and allow me to do more than just go to meetings for the rest of my life. Inevitably, I may accidentally piss off some supporters of some of old ideologies of recovery (I’ll do what I can to avoid that), but I feel the path that I’m taking is 100% worth sharing, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s never an argument but it is always a discussion worth having. I’ve learned to see things more objectively and hope to present myself in the same way.”
We can #BeHigherBeings and leave alcoholism, addiction AND recovery behind and start living again.
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