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It's a Feelings Disease - Emotions and Addictions

Jul 1, 2008
Boy has 18 months clean and sober. Boy is going to twelve step meetings, praying and meditating each day, talking to his sponsor regularly, doing service like chairing meetings, speaking at detox, sponsoring others. Boy is staying clean one day at a time. Uh Oh - boy meets girl. Boy and girl go together for a few months. Girl breaks up with boy. Boy is devastated. Boy relapses and loses everything.

Believe it or not this scenario is very realistic indeed. How do I know? It happened to me! They say that the disease of addiction is a feelings disease not because we can't learn to handle life on life's terms but because I believe us addicts and alcoholics feel very intensely. This does not mean we cannot live normal lives and must shelter ourselves from heartache, but rather we must stay spiritually fit in order to prepare ourselves for those emotional upheavals that inevitably come our way as we trudge through our destinies. When I relapsed with 18 months under my belt I had let up on some of the spiritual exercise that kept me fit.

Sure I was praying and meditating each day, but I stopped meaning the words. I was in a rush when I said my prayers. I didn't listen for the answers to my prayers when I meditated. The love relationship shifted my focus from being God centered to being self centered. I was more concerned with looking good and feeling good than I was with helping other addicts and alcoholics recover which is one of the most important things an addict or alcoholic can do to help themselves stay clean and sober. "When all else fails, help another addict or alcoholic," the program professes.

Don't get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with feelings, and to boot I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as bad feelings and good feelings. Feelings are our mind's teachers. When we feel angry we are being taught that there is an issue that must be dealt with. If we push it away or use because of it we are simply adding more work to be done later. If we feel sad we should know that an event has affected our soul and we are going through the natural grieving stage in order to move on to a better place. Yes, we must allow ourselves to feel our feelings but we cannot be ruled by them.

When we start letting our feelings dictate our actions we start getting into trouble sometimes. How then do we deal with our more difficult feelings in recovery and take preventative measure to minimize them. For some medication is required, anger management classes, breathing exercises, meditation and prayer, and counseling are all fine techniques for dealing with tough emotions.

But I believe the best medicine for those in recovery is to simply stay spiritually fit by going to meetings regularly and sharing honestly from the heart, practicing the spiritual principles of the program like honesty, courage, willingness, open-mindedness (to name a few), staying in touch with other addicts and alcoholics who have been through what you have been through, and carrying the message of recovery to others. In these ways one can get through the ups and downs of the roller coaster road we sometimes call life.
About the Author
Zach Samuels is the author of Confessions of a Crack Head which can be found at Confessions of a Crack Head. The site offers resources for addicts and their families, a blog, a forum, contact information, and more.
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