Still the passage of time

by erics1100paces


My understanding of addiction grows, I think, a little bit here and there, but that may be illusion.  Addiction may not be something that can be “understood.”

A real addict generally has a couple of choices:  embrace complete sobriety or experience catastrophic outcomes (homeless, big car crash, kids taken away, etc).  In other words, “Jails, institutions, and death.”  I believe this to be true in most cases.

It’s a truth born of the reality that it’s very difficult to be a drug addict and not incur damage.  Most addicts will take what’s available (excepting specific things they’ve already tried and don’t like).  And few “recreational” drugs (what a stupid name) can be used regularly without incurring substantial harms.


Cunning, baffling, powerful.  I utterly concede defeat, oh mighty dark lord.  I cannot handle you.  I humbly submit that I’ve not sullied your hem with my touch since the flogging you gave me last X-mas, and God willing never shall I test your patience again.

Boy, tough one.  Reflexively, an honest addict is like, hey, that’s just “speed addict” via doctor.  But the drug genuinely correlates strongly with practical gains:  more work done, more achievement, and corresponding financial gains, matters in which my dependents have a vested interest, my clients, my employer.  How exactly ought one do an impact calculus on something like this?

The First Step and AA:

AA is born and built upon the fundamental (and paradoxically easily falsified) truth of the first step.  I am powerless over alcohol, and my life had become unmanageable because of alcohol consumption.  Alcoholism is it’s own little rabid wolverine.  I don’t care how carefully I handle it.  If I mess with it, it will maul me.  And it will get out and maul my family.  And after that happens often enough, you go, fine.  It’s un-fucking-manageable.  Alright?  Fine.  And I’m powerless over alcohol.  It’s a complete crapshoot.  It impairs my judgement and who knows what the hell’s going to happen.  Fine.

And then you can quit.  Eventually you get used to the idea – I can’t drink again.  The “one day at a time” stuff is for until you get used to the idea.  Then, you get so the thought of drinking make you recoil.

But you have to be able to do both parts of the first step!  The first step is the key tool that AA uses.  It’s the first – and only truly necessary – step to giving up something.  We know that because, “it’s the only one you can do perfectly.”  Since people stay sober with mushiness in the other steps, step one is both necessary and sufficient to achieve sobriety.  (It has to be, because given that the other steps are done to varying degrees of success, then the permutations of “scores of success” on steps includes a set of permutations that eliminates each other step as a necessary condition).

AA has a laser here, but much of the focus is on the other part.  In other words, the focus isn’t really on getting people to successfully abstain from alcohol, it’s on getting them to be happy and good people through that process.  And at that, it is very successful.  I still talk to my sponsor periodically.  He emails me, and I always feel guilty about not having emailed him first.  I imagine that’s how people are with priests.

As I told him, mostly just thinking aloud,  I get rid of the bad impacts of drinking – no hangovers, etc, but don’t gain the good impacts of sobriety – peace,  upright-ness, purpose, etc.  Having said that, I don’t actually know how open AA should be to folk like me.  It’s complicated.  I’d feel like a fraud on some level, I imagine, regardless of the stance of people there.  We’re talking about a spiritual program, that asks foremost that you choose and follow it’s path, like any such program.  One could argue that my position is consistent with the path articulated by the literature, but the path is really determined by the group conscious – by those who guide newcomers and shape their perceptions.  And the consensus seems clear, and seems resonant with “truth” on some level.  Their’s suffering and sacrifice in abstention, especially at first, and I’m not experiencing that.  In what might be tough moments, at least in theory, I have a replacement to turn to.  So the connection with me is weaker, the fight is different.