The Power of Connectedness and Recovery
Recently, I have seen an increase in articles posted online, specifically on social media about addiction and how bad this issue is becoming. I found and read an article on Facebook by Johann Hari titled “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think”—He wrote the article for Huffingtonpost.com. The article was quite interesting and frankly very bold. Hari claims that addiction is not caused by the use of a substance alone, but that isolation causes individuals to cross the invisible line into addiction and therefore the solution must be for addicts to have community with people they love and care about.
Having spent many years in recovery and helping alcoholics and drug addicts I can understand the despair Johann must feel in wanting to help drug addicts. Although Hari will most likely never read this, I thought I would share my experience and opinion of the cause and solution for any and all, alcoholics and drug addicts. Again, this is just my experience…
I got sober in June of 2001; needless to say my life was a mess. To this day, I have no idea how I was blessed with the merit to get and stay sober for this long. I often say that I was very lucky, in that I was immediately connected with people in a recovery program who knew what the solution was and how to share that solution with me. I was blessed to have the desire to stay as close as I possibly could to these people.
Through the years of staying connected to these people and creating my own connections with others, I have come to believe that the only reason I ever used alcohol or drugs was that I was disconnected. Disconnected from what may you ask? I’m still not sure but here are some of the things I have learned. One of the first things I learned in my journey of recovery is that I must always have the desire and do the next right thing. Now, people may wonder… “What’s the big deal, of course I want to do the next right thing”. I have studied this simple but powerful saying over the last 10 plus years. I have talked with countless people about what it means to them and how this has helped them. This is what I have understood so far.
Doing the “next right thing” enables us to connect! Connect to what? Honestly I really do not know. Power I guess. Some unseen thing happens when we do the next right thing. And when we do the next right thing, when we have a choice to do the next wrong thing, we are able to connect even more. This connection is compounded as we continue, day after day to make the right choices.
This was a very profound realization for me because for most of my life I simply reacted with hardly any restriction in what my immediate desires where. I was walking around entirely consumed with what I wanted and felt I needed.
Reacting out of my own selfish desires year after year as my life progressed from childhood to adolescence and into manhood created a great deal of emotional pain. Using alcohol and drugs worked really well at masking that pain. Thus using alcohol and drugs became my solution, not my problem! Drugs and alcohol allowed me to connect. I do not know how but in hindsight that was what happened. I was usually in emotional pain (consciously or unconsciously) and I would use alcohol and drugs to feel better.
When I stopped using alcohol and drugs, my solution was taken away from me and fortunately I replaced it with a connection to power. One of the most amazing things about this simple concept is, it really does not matter if you believe it or not. For example, I have watched countless people take this action and have it work for them. Many, if not all of them, had no idea they were even doing it, as they were in so much emotion pain that they were willing to do whatever they were asked to do. These individuals were not trying to collect points for being a good person, they were not trying to please anyone, they just were sick and tired of living a life of pain.
So, in a way I do agree with Johann that the solution for addiction is connectedness but I would say that we as drug addicts and alcoholics must learn that connection with our actions can create our experiences. It is only our actions that can enable us to connect to people and when we connect with the people in our lives we are not only doing the next right thing—we are making the world a better place…and that is true Power!
Written by Josh Benton