Telling yourself that you are a “recovering” addict is like telling your spouse that they can “probably” trust you. It’s a perfectly acceptable statement, except for that one niggling word which undermines your credibility and acts as a buffer between you and personal responsibility. The fact is that there are no recovering addicts, only former addicts and active ones.
There are no triggers, either. Think about the words you use before you go ahead and use them—trigger, relapse, slip—they all suggest the intervention of some external force, rather than the truth, which is that you fucked up. Responding to “So, what happened?” with “I had a relapse” might feel a touch less pathetic than saying “I went out and got drunk,” but in saying so you’re only conning yourself out of an honest perspective on things. Plus, you’re buying into that preachy, cultish and dreadfully boring lexicon that the 12-step movement engenders.
NA and AA don’t work; sure, they may enable you to stop getting loaded every day and to hold down a job, but they’ll turn you into a boring, brainwashed hypersensitive zombie in the process. I’ve never met a self-proclaimed “recovering” addict who wasn’t a total bore, and I’ve got news for all of them: Nobody gives a shit how many months you “have.” Nobody gets all choked-up about your sad little stories of selling your parents’ shit and crashing on people’s sofas because of choices you made surrounding your habit. You’re not the star in some gritty and emotional movie; you’re just another idiot who lacked the self-control to avoid becoming addicted. That’s fine—I’m the same way, but don’t swap one addiction for another. Don’t swap liquor or pills for meetings and achievement badges. What are you, a fucking Boy Scout?
This isn’t tough love, by the way. That’s that whiny bullshit they peddle at 12-step meetings which in truth is neither tough nor love. This is just honesty. Once you stop using whatever fucked you up and understand why it fucked you up in the first place, you’re free. You don’t need to avoid “enablers” or to “find your X factor.” You don’t even need to avoid substance usage altogether. I still drink on special occasions and a few months ago I took Valium as prescribed by my doctor. I’m fine with doing this because I’ve never been addicted to alcohol or Valium. Trying to avoid all stimulation because you’ve talked yourself into helplessness while you wait for some “all clear” sign that you know is never coming is not my idea of recovery.
This isn’t something I came up with; it’s just what they teach in basic non-treatment courses. It’s reverse self-hypnosis, neurolinguistic programming, and a bit of neuroscience for dummies. I laugh at “recovering” addicts and their sanctimonious, pissy-eyed attitudes toward substance misuse. I cackle when they have a bad day and freak out before running off to a 7-11 or a dealer and getting bombed out of their skulls before trashing their apartments and having the audacity to call it a “relapse.”
I even quit cigarette smoking with the non-treatment system, and here’s the kicker—I still smoke cigarettes! Just, you know, when I want to. At birthday parties and the like. I don’t whip myself into a melodramatic frenzy and convince myself that cigarettes are coming to “get me.” If I want one, I simply pop it in my mouth and light it, and because I understand that, ninety-nine percent of the time I don’t. Want to be like me? Great, go ahead and find a non-treatment course. You can do them online, for crying out loud. Just find one, do it, and shut up. Oh, and say goodbye to your higher power for me.