Information vs. Change

From – August 24th, 2010

If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.  But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried.  We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn’t there.  Out human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pgs 44-45)

When looking at the lifestyle of many alcoholics and addicts and when it is us looking at our own lives it often seems like we are unreasonable, insensitive, people who are only concerned about our own pleasure and comfort. 

This may or may not be true to some degree and may be completely right in some cases.  There is a right and wrong, but just letting us know what right and wrong is will not magically make us act differently.   Just convincing us of the rules we ought to follow in life does not sober us up or change us unless we are actually changed.

The fact is that:  WE ARE NOT CHANGED UNLESS WE ARE CHANGED!  That may sound silly or incredibly obvious but the fact is that many people do not understand this fact.  Information and education can be a part of learning to change and directing that change, but information is not the same as change.  What you do with that information determines if it is change or not.

A person can learn the rules of “acting normal” (whatever that means) and really want to follow them, but there are reasons we use drugs and alcohol that are physical and chemical within our bodies, that are mental and habitual, that are social, and for many of us our ideas of God, religion, and the meaning of life are a huge challenge also.  The point is that if you only force yourself to abstain and follow rules many of us find ourselves abstinent and miserable.  This has a certain irony because many of us only ponder the idea of recovery in the first place because of the misery that using causes. Then we go through recovery only to find that recovery causes us misery without relief.  This does not have to be the case, it is a sign that you are going about it wrong.

Of necessity there will have to be discussion of matters medical, psychiatric, social, and religious. We are aware that these matters are, from their very nature, controversial. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 19)

This means that recovery involves dealing with your physical compulsions and problems, your mental challenges, the destructive social issues we suffer from, and each one of our spiritual lives (each one of our idea of the purpose of life).

Let me explain.  Think of every serious alcoholic or addict as a car with four flat tires.  The tires all need to be inflated or replaced for the car to drivable.  Many people in recovery and many who work in the field of recovery only work on one area and believe that to be the fix-all.  In other words they feel that if you inflate one tire the car is fine.

The truth is that the car is better but not fine.  The car even looks fixed if you look at it from a certain angle.  The problem is it still is not drivable. 

There are people for example who only treat the chemical part of the addiction with inhibitors, substitutes for the addictive substance and so on, but leave the person to deal with things such as the fact their friends all use the chemical or that he or she feels the need to use to date or relate to a spouse etc. 

There are those who work with the person’s childhood upbringing, and pains of the past and do not concern themselves with the fact that the person’s body may totally depend on the substance no matter how much he or she does not want to use.

Another person may focus on the spirituality and pray more or attend more services while saying there is no need to deal with those social and physical issues, they will just go away.

You have to inflate all four tires to get the car of your recovery to drive.  There has got to be change in your body, in your mind, in your social life and in your spirituality (your view of the purpose of your life).  In other words an advanced level alcoholic or addict in recovery must be completely changed to have any hope.

A person who wants to be about the same and yet get recovery is in reality trying to think and do the same things and get different results.

This blog and much of the work I do is largely informational and I believe that information is a key to this kind of change.  The information is key to inflating all four tires.  The problem is summed up in one statement I always repeat:  INFORMATION IN AND OF ITSELF WILL NOT KEEP YOU SOBER!  However, using the information to direct your change can change you enough to gain sobriety.  Just hearing and understanding words is not the magic spell that will mysteriously fix a person. 

If you are looking for recovery assume that who and what you have been has not worked for you and needs to change.  Stop focusing on small adjustments and focus on “starting over.”  I am not saying that there has not been any good in your life ever, I am saying that it is to hard to figure out what was good, what was bad and what was bad that you just think is good.  Just start over.  Expect to change completely not just to learn helpful information.


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