I’ve been clean and sober for over seven and a half years, but this article isn’t about me. It’s about all of us realizing that recovering drug addicts should be the motivation we all use on a daily basis to overcome the challenges life throws at us. My life is immensely better than it used to be. I owe my life to the wisdom of drug addicts, but more importantly, my life wouldn’t be amazing if it weren’t for the wisdom they shared freely with me.
One of the best selling books in recent years, which I absolutely love, is Can’t Hurt Me by the former Navy Seal David Goggins. In this best-selling inspirational book, it’s difficult to walk away from it without the motivation to kick some ass. It’s stories like these that teach us what we’re all capable of and how we can push ourselves to our limits. I challenge you to read Can’t Hurt Me and not walk away knowing you can do a little bit more than you’re currently doing.
I was reminded of this book when I was recently reading Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop. In it, he discusses the difficulties we all face, and in his tough-love style, he asks you if you really think the historical figures like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others ever faced adversity and doubt. Because of this, I started thinking about the wisdom of drug addicts and what they have to offer the world to help people alleviate some of their suffering that comes along with the human experience.
An Overview of the Recovering Drug Addict
In active addiction, drug addicts are looked down upon, and often for good reason. We can destroy our lives and the lives of others in ways that not even a nuclear bomb could because the people involved have to live with the wreckage we cause for years to come. On top of that, with every drink we take, line we snort or shot we inject, we’re playing Russian roulette. Each year, 10s of thousands of addicts die in the United States alone, and most of us welcome death with open arms because it means we no longer have to live the way we’re living.
If you ever feel hopeless, I want you to think about the drug addict who is put in a place where they need to quit drinking and using. The one thing that brought them solace in their life is taken away.
In Recovery by Russell Brand, he discusses how most addicts are suicidal, and the substances are the only thing keeping them alive, and I can definitely relate. Brand also discusses how everyone is an addict in some form or another. He says that because we addicts turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to get a feeling, get rid of a feeling or have an escape, and you do the same thing.
Maybe to deal with your pain, you buy things you don’t need or indulge with things you shouldn’t be eating. You may be the type of person who finds a little bit of relief from having promiscuous sex or some other behavior that’s bringing you short-term comfort for a long term problem.
Drug addicts are no different. The only difference is our problem is glaringly obvious, and in order to gain any semblance of a life, we need to become completely abstinent. Do you think you could do that with your vice? If not, get inspiration from those in recovery.
Living a Principled Life
Those who have not had an addiction may never truly understand what it’s like to be a slave to something like drugs or alcohol. Whenever those cravings came knocking, we were there to answer the door. If those cravings told us that we had to walk across town to answer that door, we did, and we’d gladly lie, cheat or steal to make that craving go away as well.
So, with the intense cravings and psychological obsession, how the hell do addicts stop? Any addict in recovery who is alive to tell the tale has defied the odds and somehow avoided the fate that has taken millions of lives.
They do this by living a principled life.
I’ll never forget a story that perfectly exemplifies the principles that recovering addicts live by. I had a flight to catch, but I want to swing by a 12-step fellowship’s picnic before catching my flight. I stayed a little longer than I should have, so I was in a hurry as I hustled back to my car. As I approached my car, a man was pushing his car in the parking lot, so I ran over to help him push it to a parking spot.
He thanked me and asked if I had any jumper cables. I told him I didn’t, and I had to leave to catch a flight. Then, I pointed to the picnic and said, “Over there is a bunch of recovering drug addicts, and I guarantee one of them will help you.”
Then, I got in my car and left with a clear mind. Why? Because I knew for a fact that my fellow recovering addicts would help this man in any way possible.
And that’s one of the ways we live the life we have today.
In order to stay sober, we must do a complete 180. Our addiction makes us the most selfish, self-centered people around. We’re angry, irritable and constantly sitting in self-pity. We learn that in order to live the life we want, we need to live a completely different way, which involves not being obsessed with ourselves and our own wants and needs.
You may not realize it, but 99 percent of your problems are because you can’t stop thinking about yourself. You’re constantly thinking about your wants, your needs and your problems. You’re so obsessed with yourself and how you want your life to be that it’s making you miserable. You have yet to learn some extremely valuable lessons.
Life isn’t fair
Life is never going to be perfect
You need to learn how to accept these facts if you ever hope to move forward
I know your problems because they were my problems too. I also know your problems because when I started to turn my life around, I became the go-to guy for people to discuss their problems with. It was all the same candy with a different wrapper. I started to realize that even without drugs and alcohol, everyone was struggling with the exact same things.
This is why you need to start looking to some of the strongest people out there: drug addicts. They’ve been to hell and back, and many of them live each day with a big ol’ smile on their face because they live in a new way. The beautiful thing is that you don’t have to stick a needle in your arm to start living this way too.
So, if you have an addict in your life who is in recovery and living an awesome life, ask them how they did it. You also have access to the internet where you can learn from recovering addicts from around the world like Russell Brand and many others. If these people can crawl out of the hole they were in and now live a life of peace, serenity and sanity, there’s a good chance you can too.
I’ll leave you with a hilarious quote from the underrated 2010 film Due Date starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis.
RDJ is booted off his plane and trying to figure out a way to get back home to be there for his child’s birth. He’s getting extremely irritated at the agents who removed him from the plane and is freaking out.
When Robert Downey Jr. feels like he has absolutely no options because he’s so focused on flying back to LA, the agent gives him a little inspiration to remind him of what he’s capable of.
“Have you ever seen the movie Forrest Gump? He ran accross the United States, and he was pretty stupid. I have faith in you.”