There is an art to getting and staying clean and sober. The art is not to attempt recovery alone. In fact, the less time you spend alone the better. This sounds simple enough. It is not. Change is disruptive. Changing addictive behavior must be disruptive. You often have to change most things in your life. The longer you have been in active addiction the more your life is shaped around your using patterns. In fact, in active addiction, our life is configured around our next drink or drug or on-line purchase. The mental obsession is powerful. Beyond the imagination of the non-addict. The art lies in the willingness of the addict to begin breaking the obsession cycle. This is a huge challenge! This in a nutshell is the challenge of recovering from this hopeless state of mind, body, spirit and soul.
It can’t be that simple. It is. There must be agreed upon substitutes for the activities that encompass the obsessed state of addictive behavior. Simple and easy are two very different things in this process. The process of substituting new behavior for old destructive behavior sounds simple enough. To the sane. In the second step of the AA Twelve Steps, it states that we must be “restored to sanity”. The active addict is not sane. I know I wasn’t. The softer, easier ways of discussing addiction are not effective. The endless number of deaths due to overdose in the opioid scourge of the past 10 plus years is all the proof we should need to agree that addicts are in a fight for their lives and many times so are the families and friends of the addicted.
It’s life or death on many levels. They could physically die. They are also dying a little bit every time they choose old behavior and use their drug of choice. A key part of substituting new behavior for old choices is opening one’s mind to the power of God. The Big Book of AA mentions God several hundred times. The founders of AA believed that a desire to connect with God was essential to long term “spiritual sobriety”. Spiritual sobriety is established as the ultimate goal of the AA program. Too often the repetitive failure of addiction diminishes the human spirit. It robs us of our dignity and in many ways our humanity. God wants to restore us. We are His divine creation. He does not want us to suffer.
The art of recovery is the initial surrender and the continuing act of surrender. Surrendering to God’s Love and the plan He has for your new way of living. It’s simple but not easy. As my friend Bob likes to say, “I found out there is a God and I’m not it”. The good news is that God will put people in your life to walk alongside you. This is part of the miracle God offers every willing addict. The only requirement in AA is “the desire to stop drinking”. God recognizes that desire and he begins the restorative plan He has for us. Since many of us do not know or trust God when we decide to change, God puts his chosen servants in your path so that you may be surrounded by God’s love in human form. We have a deadly disease and God has a life reforming and life affirming plan for our recovery. It’s simple but not easy!
I hope that you or someone you love is considering leaving their life of active addiction. If I can help, please feel free to reach out to me. I can help with resources, meetings, prayers and more. God has armed me for this battle. Don’t go alone!
-Matt Gutbrod, Clinic Director