Your approach to recovery should be subjective, and recovery doesn’t have to be for life

Today I spent some time randomly browsing some articles on Sobernation.com. Some of them are OK, like the one about Eminem celebrating 11 years of recovery. Some of them are shit. There’s this one about picking a rehab that works for you, filled with trite advice, some things that anyone with common sense would know, and some convenient platitudes that smack of generic bullshit advice to make you feel good.

The worst on there is not the article itself – some crap about Tim Allen, but the comments to it, from a bunch of not-so-free thinkers who are moaning about him breaking the 11th tradition. Or was it the twelfth? Who gives a fuck?

If you think recovery is formulaic and that you must follow a 12 step program and recovery has to be for life, and that works for you, you’re probably an idiot. I hate to break it to you. (I lie.) But there are probably more ways to live your life sober than anyone can imagine. There is no one right way to do it, and if you think there is, and you tell that to others in your stupid 12 step meetings, you’re probably contributing more harm than good at the end of the day.

12 step programs don’t work for everybody. There, I Googled that last sentence and here are three of the results I got right away: Here and here and here. When you enter those rooms, you get sucked into a cult of bullshit, telling yourself that recovery involves “working the steps” for life, and if you’re a dummy, you might fall for it. It might work for you, and props to you if it does, but it doesn’t work for most. You don’t get to see that it doesn’t work. Instead, you get to repeat the same trite bullshit that claims it does, and don’t see all the people who leave the program and relapse because it didn’t help them.

I have never worked my recovery, and am now two months past six years clean. I know I will never use again. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t give a fuck if a brainwashed moron thinks I’m a so-called “dry drunk” who will fail because I’m not working those stupid steps. I’m not writing this to reach those guys anyway. I’m writing this to reach those like me, atheists and other free thinkers who got sucked in and found it doesn’t work for them. Friends, you don’t have to keep trying to participate in a program that isn’t working for you. Just abstain. Find your own way and abstain. Personally, I found it better to stay the fuck away from other addicts, all addicts, even ones in recovery. I put my loved ones ahead of myself and that worked for me.

A recovery cliché I loathe: My worst day clean is better than my best day in active addiction.

I may have written about this one before, but I’d like to draw attention to it again. The statement is a lie, a “feel good” fake aphorism that recovering addicts tell themselves, typically while sitting in a circle sharing platitudes in an NA meeting.

Thinking like that isn’t just bullshit; it’s dangerous bullshit. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that even if we replace ‘day’ with ‘year’ in that statement, it remains bullshit. I loathe recovery culture in general, and back when I attended NA meetings, I’d hear platitudes like that one all the time. Honestly it made me sick because I am not the type of person who can just go along with bullshit because it makes people feel good about themselves. I found myself speaking up in meetings to contradict their pretend aphorisms more and more, and it is one of the reasons I stopped attending those meetings nearly four years ago. (I don’t miss them.)

I have no problem with comparing my worst day clean to my worst day using. That would make sense. But my best day? For fuck’s sake, why??? My best day involved being in love, having no responsibilities, having left my depression behind and for the first time in years, feeling good, confident, and alive. My best day was also around day two of a three day nonstop sex marathon and it was probably the high point of my selfish life. My best day, in retrospect, was the day I had the most pleasure in my life, after leaving a deep depression, and was arguably one of the best times in my life. My worst day clean was recently when my mother died suddenly last month, and I would have to be retarded to say that it was better than my best day on meth.

Drugs have benefits. They can do a lot of good. It is stupid to pretend otherwise. If they didn’t do good things for us, we would never have continued using them after they led to less desirable consequences. That is precisely what makes them so dangerous. They seduce us into depending completely on them and steal our very lives away from us. Who among us don’t know somebody who can’t have a good time without cocaine, but who is not considered an addict?

To deny the good that drugs did for you in the past simply because it suits your current narrative is to blind yourself from seeing the bigger picture. What if one day you relapse? In that moment, that second after the first hit, you remember the good things that drugs did for you in the past. It all comes back in the rush of the high of that first hit. It shatters the lie that your worst day clean was better than your best day high. And with that lie exposed, you might very well decide to leave recovery behind forever. Support built on a foundation of lies is not support to rely on. But if you don’t lie to yourself, if you acknowledge how much good the drugs did in your past, that first hit doesn’t have to go on. Even if you relapse, you can take back control and realize that the good feeling is fleeting. You can pull yourself right out of that hole. But if your recovery is based on false hope, on comforting lies, one relapse is the end.

But there is another way to look at this lie recovering addicts tell themselves. Another famous phrase they like to dismiss in recovery is “It’s all about me”. Ironically, to believe that your worst day clean is better than your best day high, it really must be all about you. If you truly aren’t concerned only with yourself, then some of the worst things that can ruin your day, or month, or year, are about other people…

Loved ones die. Relationships end. Marriages fall apart. Partners cheat. Children can be taken away even when you are not at fault, for example children you love, of a partner who leaves you, but who are not biologically yours. Those are only a few examples, but there are many more. Your worst day when you’re clean isn’t necessarily about you, but could instead be about others you care about. Thus your worst day clean can crush you in ways that bad days on drugs never can. You worst day clean might compare to bad days high, but to suggest it might compare to good days is simply an example of a statement that relies on sounding clever as long as you don’t really think about it.

In summary, this is why I could never stick with NA and a 12 step program. Besides what I have written about before, in terms of a higher power, which I do not have, such programs are always built on self deception and comforting lies. Such programs are built on bullshit. Not all of us can feel happy when we sit around in a circle listening to clever sounding bullshit to make us feel good – sorry! (Actually I seriously wonder if such statements are believed because of the “Deepak Chopra effect”… That is, when people hear a statement they don’t understand, they assume incorrectly that the statement is wise, just like clever statements that they don’t understand. But the truth is some statements are not “beyond” understanding – they are simply nonsense. This is probably also why people think Jordan Petersen is an intellectual rather than an idiot spewing pseudo-intellectual nonsense.) My life has to be built on something real. If comforting lies work for you, then kudos to you, but don’t repeat the hideous lie that your worst day clean was better than your best day using. Rather be honest with yourself.

What the 12 steps are really about.

After reading a friend’s Facebook statuses and reminding myself how much I hated 12 step programs, I felt inspired to write this. It may not be my most eloquent post, but it is truthful as fuck.

  1. Step one: Bullshit.
  2. Step two: Bullshit.
  3. Step three: Bullshit.
  4. Step four: Bullshit.
  5. Step five: Bullshit.
  6. Step six: Bullshit.
  7. Step seven: Bullshit.
  8. Step eight: Bullshit.
  9. Step nine: Bullshit.
  10. Step ten: Bullshit.
  11. Step eleven: Bullshit.
  12. Step twelve: Bullshit.

Next month I’ll finally be five years clean. Yippee! No bullshit.

Heads up… Although I often write about addiction, this isn’t just a recovery blog.

Recently a commenter was angry that I compared snorting to smoking meth, and wrote an angry, rambling, partially coherent comment expressing her rage. She tried to convince me that I was arrogant and irresponsible by claiming that smoking meth is better than snorting, on a recovery blog. She also claimed that smoking is worse and will lead to addiction. (Lead to? If you’re commenting while high as a kite, you’re already crossed that line.)

First of all, if you write a rambling, single paragraph of run-on sentences and CAPSLOCK for emphasis while you’re high (or mentally ill – it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes), you’re not making a great case for not being an addict. (Full disclosure: I did not read the whole comment.) Secondly, she missed the point of the post, as it was about some effects of meth on users and it pointed out that smoking is better in terms of drug absorption. Thirdly, there is no “good” way of using meth. Whether you smoke it, snort it, or inject it directly into your veins, you’re still a tweaker, and I don’t encourage anyone to do that, ever.

And most importantly, this is not a recovery blog. I might write about being clean verses being on drugs often, because I used to use meth and I don’t any more, and it’s been more than four years now. I identify as a former addict, and do not recognize that recovery, at least in terms of 12 step programs which is what people generally mean when they say “recovery”, is necessary. I categorize posts with “recovery” simply for lack of a better word.

I did partake in a 12 step program more than two years ago though… I had to comply with a court order to get my son back, and one of the requirements on there was that I complete an outpatient program at a local SANCA (a rehab approved by the local court system), so I did that. However, I waited until I was already about 15 months clean before starting that program. I was already certain of my sobriety when I started, and simply went through the motions to get that piece of paper so I could eventually get my son back. It didn’t happen right away, but this was an important step to have completed, so that the court system and social development system could continue. And on the 15th of next month, it will be two years that I have him back. But I finished that program, and have not been back to an NA meeting, since two years and eight months ago.

Funnily enough, since I went into that program knowing that my lasting sobriety was already a given, and it was held at a place with inpatients too, I think they sensed how sure I was of myself. Shame… One guy even asked me to be his sponsor. I had to refuse, but I couldn’t tell him I was only pretending to believe in what he believed in, and could not possibly be that for him. I really couldn’t. Heck, I reject every single step starting at step one, and have never agreed with the idea of “just for today”. The difference between their approach and mine is too great.

Anyway, getting back to this blog… “Skeptical ex addict”. That’s what I put in the title. That should tell you enough. It all about me, baby! (Who else would my life be about? That’s another bit of NA literature bullshit I despise, but I digress.) I identify as a former addict, someone who used to be an addict, who used to have a problem with addiction but doesn’t any more. So this blog will often be about my approach to “recovery”, though I loathe that word because my way is so different to theirs, and it will also be about whatever else I feel like writing about, including skepticism, atheism, sometimes computer programming, some reviews of TV shows and superhero and horror movies, and whatever else tickles my fancy.

I’m not going to get deeply into what my approach to sobriety is, not here, not today. But I can say it has nothing to do with powerlessness, or god, or any other higher power, and has everything to do with accepting that I loved using meth but was never powerless, and rather taking full responsibility for all that I did to get it and all that I did while I was high. I do not and never will “work my recovery” in the way that 12 steppers do. I live my life, focusing on my work and my son, and have no time for nonsense like 12 step programs. I wish I could tell you that being so vehemently anti 12 steps helped me stay clean, but it didn’t really. I’m clean because I no longer have any desire to use meth. I’m anti 12 steps because I hate bullshit.

On practicing powerlessness

Just a quick one today. When I did that outpatient program a few months ago, whenever I mentioned all the things at home that were wrong and were out of my control, the therapist who ran the group session said that I wasn’t “practicing powerlessness”.

How the fuck do you practice powerlessness? Practicing is active.  Being powerless is passive. One cannot actively do something passive. It’s one of those recovery jargon answers that I learned to hate.

It follows from the 1st step: Admission that we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Except I was never powerless over my addiction. Never. After I became addicted, I chose to continue using despite the horrendous consequences, because the drugs were still giving me something that I thought I needed. I wasn’t powerless when I got in my car, drove a few blocks, called the dealer and waited an hour for him to show up and give me some substandard crystal meth. I wasn’t powerless when I built a trust relationship with that dealer, so that I could talk him into selling me thousands worth on credit. And I certainly wasn’t powerless when I decided that the drugs were no longer giving me anything that I wanted or needed, and that it was time to stop.

A week from tomorrow I will be 23 months clean, then a month after that, two years. I did not fucking get here by being powerless.

On my old blog, I wrote a series debunking the 12 steps, or maybe not debunking but writing in detail why and how I disagreed with them, starting at step one. I only got to around step 8 before giving up, because they get more nonsensical and idiotic as they progress. Each step requires belief in the foundation set by the steps before it, and that foundation is built on shaky, credulous ground.

I’ve never bothered to republish those posts here, because I’m not so passionate about them anymore. Nobody is forcing me to attend 12 step bunk anymore, and I am better off without it.