The Worst Part of Addiction

Most of us have heard the story of the two wolves:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Addiction works in a similar fashion with one powerful and horrible twist: The disease only needs to be fed a few times before it begins to feed on it’s host and ensure destruction. A dear friend of mine explained it as, “I took a drink. Then the drink took a drink. Then the drink took me.”

If you don’t really understand addiction, that may sound like a cop out. To the uninitiated, the disease looks like an old Warner Brothers cartoon. Each of us has a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. In the cartoons, the devil usually wins and disaster follows. Simple lesson: Always do the right thing.

But when what you’re trying to do is not hurt like hell…or be scared as hell…the lines of right and wrong get really, really blurry and the disease gets really, really, LOUD.

I hope you never heed the siren’s call. It’s incredibly seductive and (again) it’s really fucking loud. The angels seem to whisper. As my religious friends say, “God is a gentleman. He forces nothing against our will.”

I love free will. It’s one of the first things the disease robs us of. Progressively it’s unclear: What’s me and what’s the disease?

Amongst the most beautiful and painful things I have ever seen are the tears of my brothers and sisters when they see with terrible clarity that the disease has hold of someone they care for. I got to see that again today and it never fails to move me.

It’s a horrible form of powerlessness to see someone’s freedom taken away and it’s beautiful to see them embraced just as they are.

My Higher Power works through good people who get me. They’re wounded like me. They’re the loudest, most tenacious and won’t-take-no-for-an-answer loving people I know. They stand between me and my self destruct button with a simple message:

“I love you. Don’t do this. Don’t let the darkness win.”

Imagine a lover who promises
to take away all of your pain
and incredibly… they do.
It feels like freedom

For the first time
you feel…
good
whole
clean
like maybe
you can be
okay

The seduction is complete
we find ourselves enslaved

Addiction is a cruel master
It takes away everything good
and those we love
sometimes quickly
sometimes over years

We who love you
pray for prodigal
sons and daughters,
sisters and brothers.
We crave the joy
of welcoming you home.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.