Saturday, April 21, 2012
Since yesterday was 4/20 which is National Marijuana Day, a (in my opinion) misguided and naive celebration of escape disguised as some sort of libertarian statement about choice, I thought I would use the occasion to suggest that 4/20 be renamed National Boredom Day. I am not going to get into a discussion of controlled use of pot, or alcohol or other drugs or whether pot is a gateway drug that can lead to addiction. But I am going to think about hard core addiction...
Addicts who relapse frequently sometimes seem superficially better than the last relapse but their motivation for trying to get clean again is often more for a break from the mess of their lives rather than to lose the habit. Rarely does a relapsing addict have a sober network and the answer is a common one: "same friends but they support me" which I take to mean "same old drinking and drugging crowd who I need a break from every once in a while and then when I feel like getting high again welcome me back with open arms". In contrast are those in recovery who have lost the old friends and connected with new sober friends. They may still have a reservation to use in the future but they have the tools to avoid picking up again.
So this got me thinking. How about: "Banish the Boredom - I love getting high so why am I trying to get clean and what in the world am I going to devote my life to instead?" Addicts like getting high, addiction and the life is their entire world, their primary relationship is with their drink or drug - they love Mr. or Mrs. Smirnoff (or whatever their drug is) more than anyone. (Addicts, like any parent, love their kids and they (just like non-addict parents say and sincerely believe) that they would take a bullet for their kids but the active addict parent, sadly, is the bullet. But the parent in recovery gives their child the incredible gift of real pride). So to just take the drugs and the life style away without some other sense of purpose or meaning is not likely to work. On the other hand, each day clean brings gratitude and a sense of accomplishment and a discovery that (and this may be a spiritual idea) being ordinary is extraordinary. (Not sure about any of that but it seems right).
I think, at least initially, recovery often begins by filling the newly created void with a commitment to sobriety, a new - selfish - full time job (maintaining sobriety) - the hub of the bicycle wheel, the center of a sober network. (I use the word selfish intentionally because it is one of the skills addicts bring to the table. Getting high is about as selfish an activity as there is. Also about as self destructive. So channelling that selfishness towards putting sobriety first even if that means not doing what family, friends, job, etc. want or expect (rebelliousness is another common trait so not doing what is expected can also come in handy if channelled) seems like a positive redirection of inherent abilities.
I am often struck by how bored addicts seem in between highs. Here they are fighting for their lives and yet they seem like they could care less, just get through the down time until they can get high again. I think that goes to a big issue - life is boring - especially to selfish, stimulation craving, self centered humans who are in physical and/or emotional pain (i.e., most people - which is, in part, why I think drugs and drinking are so prevalent). Maybe Nancy Reagan was not entirely wrong when she said "Just Say No" but that seems like a result not a solution. Maybe it's more about "Banish the Boredom".