I didn’t wake up. I came to. Usually abruptly. Panicked. Terrified.
The first five minutes were always the worst. Where was I? Who is that person beside me? Is anything broken? Where’s my wallet? Where am I supposed to be? I need water. I smell like a brewery. What did I do with my car?
The essence of my addiction was simple. Predictable. Viscious. Dangerous. To me and others. It stayed that way from age 13 to age 28.
Twenty four years after my last drink, toke, snort or pill, I still get quiet when I think about it. I am all too aware I can still have all that misery back in the snap of a finger. I’m not cured. I’ve seen too many lose their sobriety date after weeks, months or even multiple years. I’ve been to many, many funerals.
But drugs like Vivitrol have me pondering. A pill that would allow me to consume alcohol or other drugs with little to no effect? Wow. Am I ready or willing to wander back into the life I resigned from in the summer of 1988?
My answer is no. Why?
I drank for effect. I have no desire to consume alcohol or drugs just for the hell of it. Pay five bucks a drink and not get a buzz? Come on. A painfully shy guy, I drank and drugged because I had found something that for a few years made me feel inside like they looked outside. Smarter. Sexier. Funnier. I loved it. And if I could still be out there dancing with it I would be. But I couldn’t. The blessing, or curse, of being an addict is the thing you love begins killing you. When I reached that point of near death, in my case by my own hand, I had to make a decision to either get it over with, or to ask for help. I didn’t know which one sounded worse. Back then, death had a nice ring to it. Sobering up in a room full of misfits and people who believe in God did not. At least not to me. But not anymore.
Turns out those misfits were my peers. Damn, I too was a misfit. That’s why I drank, remember? So I could fit in. The “God thing” was my stumbling block, but it turned out that I didn’t have to worry. The wording of the step literally says ‘God as we understood Him.’ I didn’t understand him. So I borrowed Pete’s concept. Or Marti’s, or Kelleigh’s. Sure maybe it’s all a big mirage. But I keep going to the meetings, praying, reading about other’s opinions on the “God thing” just the same. And low and behold I’m still sober and mostly happy. And with no urge to use or drink.
So Vivitrol would allow me to re-enter the bar scene and sip the foam off a beer or two again? Hmmm. Why would I want to do that? Without the effect, I already know I won’t fit in. I don’t even like being around drunks or stoners when they’re using. Most of what I hear from them is what I heard from me. Nonsensical, arrogant, pointless arguments or attempts to manipulate others to join me.
I believe if I miss the bar scene, or the lazyboy (the cockpit of my spaceship to la-la land), then there is something wrong with my approach to my life, it’s not even about drinking or drugging. Drinking and drugging were my solutions, not my problem. My problem was my attitude about my life. I just needed another solution.
My solution these days does not come in a pill form. It comes in acceptance. In action. What I’ve been doing for 24 years. At least three meetings a week with guys and gals who know what it’s like to wake up, or come to like I used to. Prayers to something I do not understand. Helping others to get on track. Doing the steps and trying to be rigorously honest about where I am at, no matter how crazy it may sound.
A drink or toke without the buzz would be like hugging a cardboard cutout of my daughter. Give me the real thing or give me nothing. I don’t do fake. And when it comes to drugs and alcohol, I just can’t do the real thing. That train has left the station.
A friend of mine once told me something that has saved me many times. He said “We realize the boat we are asking you to row is invisible. Row anyway.”
The boat is not a pill.