I love getting email from people who read my stuff. This weekend I connected with yet another late 20’s/early 30’s person who has repeatedly suffered the realization, “I’m not a kid anymore. I can’t keep drinking/drugging like this.”
Like so many of us, he believed that it would never become a problem and that when it came time to stop he simply would. Below is my response to him:
Thanks for reaching out and sharing so much of your story. You’re at a critical juncture and to be brutally honest with you, you’re on the fence Part of you wants to get better and feel like a healthy full grown man Part of you doesn’t want to believe this is REALLY a problem. You’re afraid of change, afraid of admitting you have limits, afraid of telling your buddies that you’re officially out of the scene. Most off all, you’re afraid that you’re going to fuck this up.
Let me make it simple for you. Good intentions don’t mean a thing. It only matters what you’re willing to do. Not want to. Not need to. Willing to.
Be less than brutally honest with yourself and others and its all shit from here. You know that in your gut. It’s only a matter of time until something really bad happens. You’ve lived a semi charmed life to this point.
Listen to Staind sing, “It’s been a while since I could say…that I wasn’t addicted.”
Then go to a mirror. Look yourself in the eye. Say to yourself these words that you wrote to me,
“I have lost close friends and family to drugs + alcohol”
Maintain eye contact and then tell yourself, “I’ve binged on drugs and alcohol for 15 years. But maybe it’s not destroying me. It’s only half my life. Maybe I’m not addicted. There’s no way this will kill me.”
If it feels like I’m being an asshole in how I’m phrasing all of this to you, I’ll be honest, I don’t care. I don’t know you, but I’ve known a lot of young men like you. When I work with young men and women, they remind me of my kids. I have a hundred kids. Some in college, some in prison, some in the methadone clinic, some in NA & AA, some dead.
I have three rules for the young people I work with:
1. Show up. 2. Be real. 3. Don’t fucking die and do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t.
If hating my guts helps someone get sober and makes their life better, then I sincerely hope they do. I hate the disease. It takes away people I care about – sometimes overnight, sometimes bit by bit over years.
The bottom line is what my friends in recovery refer to the “rule of threes.” If an alcoholic or addict continues to use, there are only three possible outcomes: Jail, institution, or death.
I love what you wrote, “I want to turn my life around and start living for a higher purpose but I don’t know how.” That’s awesome and it’s attainable. In fact, you’re eligible for a life second to none.
Let me refer you to the experts on that very subject. Their care is free, widely available, and more effective than any other option. You can find them all across the world. Just go to Google and enter, “(name of your town) AA meetings NA meeting list.”
Accountability is key to changing your life.
Tell everyone who truly cares about you that you don’t trust yourself to resist using drugs and alcohol. Tell them what your goals are. Tell them VERY SPECIFICALLY what your goals are and what you’ll be doing. Keep them up to speed on your progress. It’s hard to hide when everyone in your life knows what you’re up to.
Go see an addictions counselor. Hold nothing back. Don’t water down the story. Make a plan. Follow through.
Don’t fucking die.