Getting back to writing about meth addiction…
On the 4th of this month I reached two years and eight months clean. That might not be a significant milestone to most, but it is to me… That’s about as long as I was using in my last stint of active addiction, so it is something of a personal achievement. I didn’t write a post with that as the title (although I will write such a post when I reach three years clean) because it is only really meaningful to me, but still… In the first half of those two years and eight months using, I really felt like there was no hope of cleaning up. I depended totally on the drug and could not imagine life without it; could not imagine not tweaking. In most of the second half of that time, I wanted to stop… tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes, and just one more hit doesn’t end… until the time that I did stop, that is. Then, I just stopped, and didn’t even consider using again. My life had reached a point where I made the decision that my drug using days were over, and that was that. So yeah… this means something.
This is also about 14 months since I stopped attending NA meetings, and I can’t say that I miss them. (Full disclosure: I only attended meetings that were part of a program I was required to complete, in order to comply with a court order so that I could get my son back. And I only started that program when I was about 14 months clean. The number 14 repeating here is a coincidence.) So the program was not what made me clean up. It was just something I had to do.
The meetings and that program were more a source of unnecessary stress for me than anything else. Hearing the things that were said about addiction, and about 12 step programs and having a higher power, sponsor and so on, being presented as the only way to do recovery, was a stressful experience, because it made me question my resolve and doubt myself. I don’t do any of that shit, and have no concept of a higher power. There have been several papers published that examine the data of years of NA (actually AA) approach to treatment, and they all conclude that such programs are no better than doing nothing at all.
So about 14 months ago, I was passionate about proving them wrong. I wrote about those papers and books on the subject, intending to read them, but I never got around to it. I also wrote extensively about the 12 step programs being wrong, but since I haven’t attended those meetings for over a year, and haven’t bumped into anybody who believes in all that nonsense, I no longer have any motivation to care about that. I do not, and never really have, worked on my recovery. I work on my life… take care of my son, my job and my interests… No meetings or repetitious steps based on bullshit are required. And it’s better that way.
But every so often, someone like my brother suggests that there is a risk of relapse, a risk of me “going off the rails again”. But why would I? It seems to be based on the assumption that once someone is an addict, they remain an addict, except one that is in recovery… One that is not using drugs.
I don’t buy that. An addict is someone who uses drugs, despite horrendous consequences. In my case, I was a meth addict. And I don’t use drugs anymore. So how can I be an addict if I don’t use? It doesn’t make sense. The idea that you remain an addict seems thus to be attached to the idea that addiction can’t be cured, but must be treated with a so called spiritual program like NA. Well, if the program is bullshit, and it is, then why not the idea that I remain an addict too?
At the end of the day, I don’t really care for the definition and for whether or not people believe that former addicts remain addicts even when they aren’t using drugs. I only care when certain people throw it in my face, and normally, that’s in a situation where the person (at least in my life) is trying to claim to be better than me somehow. So I don’t buy it. I used to use drugs, so I am a former addict. But I don’t use drugs, so I am not an addict.
Edit: A Facebook friend has reminded me that the psychological – chemical pathway in the brain remains active for a long time, hence the belief that “once an addict, always an addict” and the idea that you must treat it with a spiritual program. He’s right in a way – that pathway does remain active. But so does any psychological pathway of any behavioural problem. I still don’t buy that a spiritual program is the solution. In my case, simply focusing on my life, my family, my work and my interests… on normal healthy pursuits, is better than focusing on something that I don’t believe in and that cannot help me. A better approach would probably be one based on psychology, such as CBT. But I don’t feel the need for such therapy anymore, although I could have benefited from something like that a couple of years ago. It might have made things easier at the beginning. Those drug-induced brain pathways may still exist in my brain, but there is no place in my current life for behaviour that would reactivate them, so for all intents and purposes, I am not an addict… because I do not and will not return to addict behaviour.