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Compromising Principles

I find my experience in early recovery has had a few challenges. On one hand I’m trying to live by certain principals that I adopt from those around me in recovery and from the fellowship meetings I attend. On the other hand I’m fighting my old principals that I learnt from using drugs for so many years.
It became clear from the first time, I entered a treatment centre that my principals had been violated. I didn’t grow up with some gangster, thieving family. My people were from good stock, caring, loving high achievers. Mixing with the high society of Johannesburg wasn’t foreign to me. Our house appeared in Architecture magazines, we had a house in Portugal and by all means we lived well. With that sort of upbringing, came the morals and values of that lifestyle. Maybe I valued exterior influences more than I should have, but nothing to the extent that my life turned out to be.
I was told the normal stuff when growing up. I knew the difference between right and wrong and my family guided me as best as they could.
By the end of my active addiction I was a mess. I literally had compromised every value, moral and principle I had been taught besides murder. I was a rampant thief and liar, I couldn’t be trusted and the only way you knew when I was lying was when my mouth was open. The principles and life lessons I learnt through addiction changed my life so dramatically that when I was alone I was more dangerous to myself than to others. There is a serious problem when you sit alone and feel petrified of your own company.
As my addiction progressed to the later stages there could have been a check list of all the principles I broke.

  • Never use cocaine – CHECK
  • Never use crack – CHECK
  • Never use heroin – CHECK
  • Never use a needle – CHECK
  • Never steal – CHECK
  • Okay never steal twice – CHECK

The list can go on for hours, the point is the need to feel different or better always compromised my beliefs and principles.
Now in recovery I’m having to unlearn these behaviours and it can get really complicated. When I start looking at what are needs and what are wants. I start looking into motives and reasons. I evaluate and re-evaluate most decisions. Major decisions are done with consulting a few people who know me and my behaviour patterns.
I’m adopting new principles from those around me in the fellowship and in my peers I chose to surround myself with today.

Living in Recovery

There is a difference between recovery and abstinence.

It took me close on ten years to figure out the difference between the two. One is a fight, the other is freedom. I’ve often heard people saying that it’s a constant fight to stay clean. In my opinion that is abstinence, if you are truly in recovery there is no fight. The desire to use has left me and my days are about freedom of choice. I know I can decide to use if I want but I don’t have that pull any longer. Don’t get me wrong, obsession is still alive and well in me, it just manifests itself in other areas of my life or tries too.

I have the ability to “log” off and sit on the couch all day watching TV. I also have the ability to let my need for pleasure take over and run my life, I don’t mean with drugs or alcohol. If something like sex makes me feel good, I have ability to become too dependent on it. The pleasure centre of my brain is abit broken it seems, my experience shows me that I will do whatever it takes to feel good. One key aspect of addiction I need to remember is that if I’m a drug addict, using drugs doesn’t satisfy that craving. If I’m an alcoholic, drinking doesn’t soothe that thirst. It shows me that the drugs were not the problem. The problem is me and what’s inside of me. My coping mechanisms are did functional, my ability to handle stress is limited, and I coped with situations by putting chemicals into my system, an exterior feeling exterminator if you will. Something had to change.

My life is not easy, I still have my struggles. My life is simpler though, I have a basic routine that I follow that seems to help keep me in check. I do all the same things that got me clean at the beginning of recovery and guess what? A miracle happens, I stay clean. Those few simple things are as follows;