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Is Total Abstinence a Sure Indicator that Somebody Fell Way Off the Addictions Cliff?

Jan 18, 2008
You know the type...they can't have a sip of wine or even be around someone smoking a cigarette. They know that if they have that first sip or puff they are right back in the same box they had such a hard time getting out of. And they keep reminding you of the fact.

Maybe it's 'Hi, my name is Fred and I'm an alcoholic.' Alcoholics are the worst as it is the most insidious addiction, barring the nicotine frenzy. Fred then begins to tell you all his tales of woe and how he ended up face down in the street, lost his family by beating his kids and after seven stints in rehab finally found Jesus. And shouldn't we all join hands in a circle and rejoice with the New Fred?

Actually no. Fred is sending off warning signs that he is not so much an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic as he is a dysfunctional human being. And Fred can go on for hours telling you all about the gruesome details of his fragile recovery and its importance to spread the word because that's what he has learned in his therapy and rehab. He was told that if he repeated anything long enough, he would begin to believe it were true. And Fred truly believes he cannot cross that line ever again. Ever.

The liquor industry says it's not their fault because they say in their ads to 'enjoy our inebriating products in moderation if you have self control'. Note how they still will sell to Fred even if he's not in control. Fred is their gross margin. All alcoholics drink responsibly, no?

If rummies are bad, cigarette smokers are worse. Cigarettes are a strange drug in that they only create dependence. One doesn't get high or a buzz by smoking coffin nails; just an addiction that is considered by many experts the hardest to break. Certainly makes sense no? Why not smoke something that blackens teeth, stinks, poisons the air through second hand smoke and lays a death pall everywhere it's lit? Oh, and it is a leading cause of cancer...says so right on the package, right under the heading "For Losers and Stupids Only".

Druggies are another fun bunch. Their argument is at least the high is worth it. Asked why they do drugs they will quickly say to get loaded, stoned, high, zonked, blitzed, blottoed, binged, blipped and wrecked. It all starts out in good, clean fun when one of their pals or girlfriends says 'hey, try a little bit of this fairy dust and it'll take the edge off your rotten, collectively depressed life'. Right. After all, what are good friends for?

They snort heroin and revel in the fact no one at work knows. Or pop the painkillers thinking their glassy eyes are not really that obvious anyway. Or slip crank into their morning coffee to start the motor running,you know, 'get your motor running, head out on the highway to work...'

The coke users think their red and dripping noses will be perceived as allergies or a lingering cold. They think that because they appear nervous and are sweating that all will think it's job related stress related and let it go. They also insist they are 'recreational users' even though they spend more with their dealer than they do on food, housing or their children.

The potheads are actually funny in that they think no one will notice because they are just naturally upbeat anyway. A few eye drops will wash out the bloodshot eyes and some high powered perfume will cover up the smell. They forget that it's hard to cover up a skunk's odor no matter with what...it just seems to radiate out more.

It's not that these folks don't have serious problems because many do. They can't have a glass of wine or cigar after dinner. It's all or nothing and they are well trained by their counselors and therapists. Which is OK and understandable; as compassionate human beings, we should be sensitive to the needs of others.

But real recovering rummies, smokers and druggies should think a minute before going out and interacting with families, friends and the public at large. Maybe if they could put their addictions aside for five minutes they might actually find out they have real interests that might help them relate and rehabilitate.

If they would find something of interest besides themselves and their addictions; others wouldn't shun them or find them so incredibly boring. How do you react when the first thing someone tells you is they 'are recovering'?

The easiest solution is to develop a free and inquiring mind that shifts the focus to the outside. As the saying goes, 'the world is so full of such wondrous things, I'm sure we should all be happy as kings.' Maybe it's not 'all about me' and especially me and my addictions.

Because if one can find their true interests and pursue them, maybe they wouldn't feel the need to get ripped and wrecked on a continual basis. And maybe start to find a bit of joy with an unclouded and open mind even if it's not totally free and inquiring.

And perhaps in the process not find their sole joy in life from a needle, smoke, bottle or pill.
About the Author
Jack Deal is the owner of Deal Business Consulting and works with alcohol and drugs in the workplace. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com/blog and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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