Powerless No More

Alcoholism is an addiction that leaves its victims feeling powerless over their own lives. While it may seem that the drug itself causes this lack of control over our lives, it is what we do when not under the influence that also has far-reaching effects. Addiction and thoughts of using take over our every waking moment, and we are driven to seek the very chemical that is causing our ruin.

To admit that we have no control over our own lives and fate is no solution. The very thing we need is self-determination. The feeling in our lives that we are unsatisfied and deprived is often what drives addiction. Poverty, disease, trauma, all are contributing factors in driving addictive behaviors. In the first stages of addiction it is escape from our own emotional state that we crave, not necessarily the effects of a drug. Witness the sad drunk who drinks himself into unconsciousness to escape his own unbearable life.

In the latter stages of addiction, drug use is largely to return to feeling normal, as the substance has changed the chemistry of our brains in the exact opposite direction of the initial action of the drug. This is because our nervous system adapts to the chemical imbalance produced by the drug. Our bodies want to maintain a normal state, and changes occur to return ourselves to that normal state even when we are under the influence of the addictive drug. Without the drink or the smoke or the pill, we feel even worse than we were before we started using, and the impulse is strong to increase the dose. This is called developing a tolerance, and happens with all addictive drugs.

Addiction is not all chemical in nature, there are strong psychological and social influences as well. If we hang out with other users, we are more likely to use ourselves. If we develop a compulsion to get high, we will continue this behavior as force of habit. Bad habits are hard to break, as the pleasure we derive from them reinforces the urge to use again. True pleasure comes from our relationships to others, and deriving satisfaction from our accomplishments.

So how do we change our bad habits that lead to addictive behaviors? This is of course not an easy problem to solve. Doctors, scientists, legal forces, and governments seem to think that medical treatment is the only answer. In fact, no outside influence will ever cure an addict. You can train a person all you want, but once they learn that satisfaction comes from a bottle or through a needle, they will never unlearn. The only thing you can do is to help them learn new behaviors through which they can derive true pleasure. And in our modern world of stress and pressure, deprivation and pain, this is no easy task.

Addiction to alcohol and drugs causes social isolation. Studies in rats have shown that rats kept in small, isolated cages apart from others are far more prone to becoming addicted to drugs. On the other hand, rats kept in more natural environments are far less prone to even use drugs that are freely offered. Modern society is severely isolating, especially to people like drug addicts who are seen as undesirables. This is where treatment can be a real help, if only a temporary solution, as it places people in the company of their peers, giving them a place in society.

If we make the decision to take control of our lives, to seek pleasure in our accomplishments and friendship, and to shun artificial joy, we have hope in managing addiction. There is no cure or magic bullet to overcome alcoholism. There is only abstinence and the resolve not to dig ourselves deeper into the hole of chemical dependency. If you are addicted to any substance or behavior, reach out to the people around you. Try to form relationships that give meaning to your life. Develop a passion in life, even if it is only writing about your problem to share your struggle with others. Take advantage of the opportunities you have, and stop relying on the false hope of drugs to solve your problems of loneliness, isolation, and sorrow. Your life can be so much better than the struggles of a rat in a cage.

Caffeine

I slept 11 hours last night and had dreams all night long. It was restful sleep, though I woke up in a haze. I am on my fourth cup of coffee now, fiending on caffeine. Yeah, I know it is bad to rely on drugs to speed up your conscious process. I actually quit drinking coffee for a week about a month ago. It really seemed to make no difference to me.

I have got some thinking to do today about my personal life. My girlfriend will probably want to hang out and get drunk with me this afternoon if she has the day off. Like I said yesterday, this is not about her, but it affects me. I don’t really want to be around people who are using if I am trying to kick the habit. Part of getting clean is cutting ties to others who have the same bad habits as yourself. This is how I quit smoking weed. I don’t hang with stoners. So I have some serious thinking to do, and perhaps some heartache.

I have been trying to sell off some of my old stuff on craigslist. I sold an old radio the other day, which is where I got the money for cigarettes. $25 doesn’t go very far at seven dollars a pack. I should be trying to sell some books. I was giving them away to the library over the summer, but I have a lot more to move. Books are a hard sell though. Craigslist is just not the place for intellectuals. And Amazon charges money, so they are not an option at this time.

I need to look into getting a job. I have a degree in science, but it has been so long since I did any actual science, I don’t know if I am capable. I applied for a job at a bookstore last week, but they were not interested in giving me an interview. Seriously, I don’t have the skills to make this blog pay off either. I think what I want to do today is write a decent article on recovery from addiction in Word and post it here for my loyal readers. Having lived through the consequences of addiction, I think I have some perspective on the problem.

Long Winding Road

I had a bad day yesterday. It all boils down to me having money, which I squander on cigarettes and beer. It wasn’t just any beer though, it was 8% alcohol malt liquor, Natty Daddy to be exact. And it left me reeling after four 25 ounce cans. I ended up falling into bed at about five PM and passed out for about 12 hours. I was still partly hammered when I woke up, and still had a pack of cigarettes. Needless to say, but I didn’t touch the stuff today and still feel worn out. I did a lot of sleeping today.

I do OK when I am broke and can not afford my addictions, but broke is no way to live. I have been trying to figure out how to make money from a blog, but that all boils down to selling a product or a service. I don’t know about you, but it is rare indeed when I will buy something online. I don’t look at the Internet as some kind of big shopping mall, and think of it more as a source of information. I don’t know why the whole system has become so focused on commercialism. It must be the consumer culture of the modern world. I have problems with being a consumer of beer and smokes. But then, people have to live. I just want to tell my story and move on with my life. I want to find a way to live where I am not relying on drugs for my entertainment and comfort. And yes, alcohol is a powerful drug.

In this blog I want to chronicle each day as it goes by, and make a note of how I am doing with my goal of recovery. I have a lot of problems in my life, and I know you don’t know me, so why should you care? I know I have to take one day at a time. I know there will be setbacks along the way. My girlfriend has the same problems as I do, but this is not about her. This is about how I cope with being a sober non-smoker. It has been 27 hours since my last drink, and 8 1/2 hours since my last smoke. I think I am going to put on some quiet music now and try to get some rest. Hopefully tomorrow will be an even better day.