The compulsion an addict experiences to use is stronger than any other urge a human being can endure. The inhibitions of logic and reason get stripped away. In these overwhelming moments, loyalties and love are temporarily lost. Resistance leads rapidly to withdrawal – a uniquely horrible set of symptoms.
If you’ve never experienced it, you cannot imagine it.
To the uninitiated, it’s looks like major mental illness – angry, frantic, irrational.
To those of us who have chosen to endure it, it feels like death via flu symptoms, desperation, and pain. The first three days are the worst. The next four are still pretty terrible. After thirty days we feel half way human. Still the urge is powerfully present.
Achieving and maintaining sobriety are amongst the most difficult things a person can do. It brings to mind the age old question, “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” Addiction is very nearly irresistible, what then is the immovable object?
We often refer to a solid, dependable, and supportive person as being a, “rock.” As an addictions counselor, I urge folks to gather rocks. They are in no short supply in the halls of AA and NA. A person in Recovery who surrounds themselves with these folks has a far better than average chance of achieving long term sobriety.
The literature of AA refers concisely to addiction as “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” We have a disease that will go to any lengths to kill us. Left to our own devices, our addicted brains will minimize, justify, and rationalize why it’s ok to surrender to the seductive urge and return to using.
Maintaining sobriety alone is like treading water in an ocean. “Rocks” make great life preservers both literally and figuratively. They show us the way to shore. They carry us when we cannot and they teach us how to swim.
Life is hard. A life in addiction is not a life at all. It is a losing battle for survival Recovery is hard, but it provides us the means to heal and grow. Ultimately, it provides us everything we need to truly live.