By: Marilyn L. Davis
Is Our Addiction Patiently Waiting to Bloom?
“Every habit he’s ever had is still there in his body, lying dormant like flowers in the desert. Given the right conditions, all his old addictions would burst into full and luxuriant bloom. Margaret Atwood
When I found the quote by Margaret Atwood, it struck a chord with me. When something is dormant, it’s deceptive, rather like a volcano. We know that given the right conditions, it can erupt and wreak untold damage to people. My addiction is like that, also. Because I understand certain conditions that will activate my addiction, I make every effort to distance myself from them.
What conditions are you living in today? Ones that foster your recovery and keep your addiction dormant? Or are you living with negative attitudes, emotions, and actions that will feed your addiction? Click To Tweet
What Activates Our Addictions?
For some time now, we’ve referred to stimuli that prompt us to return to active use as triggers, or those cues that prompt us to think about using, or even relapse. These are emotional, environmental, an attitude, or physical problem. Some are obvious. If I go to a concert and see people using, I may start remembering that first use and develop something called, euphoric recall – romanticizing how good it would be to use, and here, I’d just fill in the blank. Fortunately, or unfortunately, my counselors in treatment labeled me a ‘garbage head’, as I didn’t have a defined drug of choice. It depended on availability and my mood, what I chose to use.
When I say, fortunately, I don’t have to wonder about new drugs that are available today. As my mentor said, “All drugs take you one of three places, up there, down there, or out there.”
Then he asked me if I’d been to all three places, and I had to admit I had. He then reminded me that if I’d visited them once, it was like getting to any city. It didn’t matter if I went in a Ford or Chevy, both would get me there, so I didn’t have to think long about that lesson. Been there, done that, and, well, you know the rest.
Early recovery was shocking to me. Removing substances from my body and mind, I couldn’t blame being high or intoxicated for what I thought or felt. That was the first time, I realized that my addiction was much more than using. I had to acknowledge that I didn’t know how to cope with my emotions, thoughts, or physical problems. I used when I was happy or sad, negative or positive in my attitude, and a headache was just an excuse to get high. So, when my numbed emotions came bubbling to the surface, I felt overwhelmed. Who knew you could feel so many emotions?
What Can I Endure Today and Not Use?
For the first few months, I set up a competition between me and my addiction. I’d get up each morning, read a meditation book, process the intent and try to put it into action that day. When triggers happened, and I didn’t use, I scored one point, and my addiction lost a point. At the end of the day, if I won, I felt some pride, which was something I hadn’t felt in years.
Initially, my game was solely about using, or not using. As my awareness increased, I added using positive aspects versus self-defeating behaviors, thoughts, and feelings to make the game a little more interesting. I used to hear in my meetings back in the ’90’s, “If you take the alcohol out of alcoholism, you’re left with the ‘isms’; those feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and ways we behave that aren’t recovery-oriented.
I must confess, that some days my ‘isms’ won. I didn’t use spiritual principles, and on those days, my addiction won.
Keeping the Addiction Dormant
Recovery is about changing the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that are self-defeating and costs me relationships, opportunities, and spiritual growth. It’s changing the attitudes that fueled my addiction like:
- Overly critical of others
- Self-seeking and Self-centered
There are countless ways to keep our addition dormant. We can:
- Attend recovery support meetings and find others who struggle with and overcome their addictions.
- Find a qualified therapist for our underlying emotional or mental health issues.
- Select a sponsor, accountability partner, spiritual advisor, or trusted confidant to guide us.
- Make positive changes every day regardless of how small they seem at the time.
- Forgive yourself and others.
While those are only five ways to keep an addiction dormant, the most important one for me, is don’t pick up the substance that made the addiction burst into bloom in the first place.
What ways do you keep your addiction dormant?
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.