When I was a teenager, I used drugs and alcohol because it was new, fun and exciting. As I got older, I got heavily addicted to opiates. At that point, I used because if I didn’t, I got sick. This vicious cycle repeated for many years until I was 25 years old. At that point, I was wasted spiritually, mentally and physically. I checked myself into my 5th treatment center. I had a spiritual awakening in treatment. I asked God to relieve me of my addiction and He did. That driving force that ran my life for 10 years was lifted miraculously.
I came out of treatment with a new found determination to not only stay sober, but change who I was from the inside out. I got a sponsor and worked the steps. My life got better very quickly. I stayed sober for 8 years and had many of the things in life I spent years seeking for through drugs and the bottle. As long as my life was going well and I had what I wanted, I thought I would never use again. So what the hell happened??
What happened is I found out the hard way that having a good life ( a wife, friends, good career, cars, a nice home etc..) in no way guarantees sobriety. You see, I have a disease that tells me I DO NOT have a disease. For me, this disease begins to rear its ugly head when I start thinking that I don’t have enough. That somehow, the world owes me more. It’s precisely when I start losing my gratitude that my disease tells me “maybe, this time will be different”. I mean, hell, life is good. I have lots of great things. A few pills or lines or shots will only amplify how great life is. I forget that there is one reason and only one reason I even can enjoy life: sobriety.
After 8 years, I relapsed. It was like I had never quit and in a few weeks, I had managed to lose everything I had worked for in the past 8 years. You think I would have learned my lesson after that but that was not to be the case. I went back to treatment and was high again within a few months.
I am not trying to sound conceited or superior with what I am about to say. It is just the simple truth. I have a decent head on my shoulders and can be very charming and manipulative when needed. I clean up nicely and know what to say to get what I want. Because of this, things have always come pretty easily to me. This is a blessing and a curse at the same time. After the second relapse, I got sober again and got back into my career path and found a very good sales job with a Fortune 100 company. The money and prestige starting coming back. Along with it, instead of feelings of gratitude, came feelings of being superior and maybe better than this disease of addiction/alcoholism. It wasn’t long before I was using again.
Through another of the many blessings of God (or my nine lives) I have managed to keep my career and have gotten back into sobriety. I now know that I am very capable of using when times are good. At least when they are bad, I have pain to motivate me. At this point, God has given me enough chances and my nine lives are used up. I need to stick close to being grateful, close to meetings, close to God and being of service. I came back into AA with a good job, a great woman, great friends, a nice car and a nice home. If I stay grateful, I don’t need to lose it all to be motivated to change. But, if I don’t change, if I don’t stay grateful, it is a guarantee that I will lose it all and may not make it back.
Jay D is a blogger for myRecovery, last wrote “Sober House Living”