For the life of me, I cannot figure out why it took me so long to tackle my addictions. If I knew then what I know now, I would have made some changes much sooner. It seems so simple, now that I have a lot of sober time under my belt. All I have to do is just not do it.
Far from it. If it were easy, everybody would just not do it. People with addictive tendencies see a life without drugs or alcohol as an intricate puzzle. We wake up from a drug- and or alcohol-induced state of unconsciousness and expect ourselves to make rational choices about the new day. Even those of us who binge and manage to stay away from whatever ails us for longer periods are plagued with little voices that remain buried only for so long before they grow in volume.
I cannot speak for everyone who has struggled with the overwhelming need to quiet those voices, but the impulse to achieve peace by drinking or drugging is nearly impossible to overcome. So we quiet the chaos by inviting more substances into our system. Days turn to weeks, and weeks turn to months. Before we know it, we’re unable to live our lives on life’s terms. We instead create different terms. We understand what it takes to feel normal, and do what we must to achieve it. Most of us understand that it will end badly, but the promise of even a few moments of peace and serenity is overwhelming. So we do it again.
The solution that eludes us and seems so obvious to those who do not struggle with addiction is to simply not start. I have repeatedly tried and failed to explain to people that addiction is not a simple matter of willpower. We had no way of knowing that when we took our first drink, smoked our first joint, took our first Vicodin, or did whatever it was that changed our perception from chaos to normalcy that we would end up craving that feeling above all else. We simply did not know that we were the ones who would get addicted.
But addicted we became.
I don’t know if I will ever fully get past my addictive cravings. Substances were the fastest way that I found to feel normal, but they ultimately made things worse. There are strategies that I needed to learn that gave me an alternative to using. “Just not doing it” was actually the easy part. Not wanting to do it turned out to be a little more challenging. That is where the work began, and my sobriety started.
There is a way to live happily without chemically changing the way we feel. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.
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