28 Apr I’m Not Powerless Over Drugs & Alcohol… I’m Not Weak.
We’ve come to a turning point, whether self-made or forced.
Drugs and alcohol have interfered with some aspect of our lives, causing other people or our innermost selves to happen upon a thought: “Is this a problem?”
Whether we immediately retort: “No, that’s probably not true. I can quit today if I wanted to,” or we ponder the thought for a minute, resulting in: “This drink or this drug is necessary for me to get through the rest of this day and I don’t know exactly how I feel about that.”
Whatever the thought process, we’re at this turning point.
We are told we have a decision to make... Either keep going the way that I'm going, or admit (as I am told to do) that I am 'powerless' over drugs and alcohol.
If you’re anything like me, this idea of powerlessness makes me feel weak; a feeling that causes the little hairs on my spine to raise ever so slightly in rebellion. I am not weak, I’ve spent my whole life proving to myself and to anyone who would listen that I am not weak.
Now, you’re telling me that I have to admit I am powerless over my habit of drinking and doing drugs because that is the only way I am going to be able to kick my (okay I’ll admit it) dependence on alcohol and drugs.
What does powerlessness even mean? Sounds lame.
Powerlessness sounds like such a strong word. Such a powerful word despite the ‘less’ tagged onto the end. Since powerlessness was synonymous with weakness in my book, and I find it very hard to believe that people would just willingly admit they are weak, I looked up the word ‘powerlessness’ in the dictionary:
“1. devoid of strength or resources, 2. lacking the authority or capacity to act.”
Then, I looked up the word ‘weak’ in the dictionary:
“2. a. mentally or intellectually deficient, b. not firmly decided, c. resulting from or indicating lack of judgment or discernment, d. not able to withstand temptation or persuasion”
There was a major difference that stood out to me when reading these definitions. Powerlessness is defined as ‘devoid of strength,’ which means that I am usually strong, but this situation renders me lacking; in all other areas of my life I can be powerful, but in this circumstance, I am powerless.
Weakness, on the other hand, is defined as ‘mentally or intellectually deficient,’ there is no temporary state or circumstantial state, but rather a permanent deficiency.
So, now I know that powerlessness and weakness are not synonymous, they are kind of opposites. Powerlessness is circumstantial, weakness is permanent.
But, I still don’t think that I am powerless over drugs and alcohol. I still show up to work, I have my car, my parents still talk to me, I’m in school, I am not living on the streets. Or, maybe I’m living on the streets, I don’t have a car, I don’t have a job, but I’m still not powerless over a substance; that’s crazy talk.
I’m not crazy
I was in my third year of college, I had a job, my parents still talked to me, I had a car, and I was able to ‘show up’ to the places I was supposed to be.
A simple question was all it took to change my thinking: “So, you have ‘everything’, but how was that working for you?”
Is how you’re living really working for you?
I didn’t know how to answer that question… But what did pop into my head was how I was skipping classes because I didn’t sleep all weekend, I showed up to work drunk and late reeking of booze and laughing about it, I kept getting tickets because I illegally parked everywhere and I couldn’t remember to renew my registration and car insurance, and maybe I showed up to the places I was ‘supposed’ to be, but I sure as hell wasn’t present, I was thinking about where the next party would be or who I could hit up for my next drink. I had no friends because I used people to get what I wanted, until I didn’t need them anymore, and my relationship with my parents was distant because I knew they wouldn’t approve of my excessive partying.
So, I asked myself: “How was that working for you?”
I was miserable on the inside, hoping that I didn’t have to wake up to see another day of the same routine, the same loneliness, and the same antsy insecurity of just existing in my own skin. Sure, I would rather be alone than with a bunch of people but more often than not I questioned my sanity.
The truth is, my day-to-day routine was based largely around my drinking. If there was a party on a weeknight and I had worked at 4am and class all day, well, work would have to wait for my drunk butt to show up, and I could just get the notes from someone. If I had a work party, you bet I’ll be the most intoxicated person there, but I’m only having fun and everyone would have to deal with it. My ‘friends’ were the people who I would use to get free booze because I most certainly wouldn’t spend time making friends who couldn’t give me something.
Does this make me powerless? Rather, am I ‘devoid of strength’ when it comes to drinking and drugs?
Well, my next move is determined by my next drink, I don’t ‘enjoy’ life unless I’m drinking, and the only friends in my life are the people who can provide me with my next drink.
Am I ‘lacking the authority or capacity to act’ when it comes to drinking and drugs?
Well, I don’t have any energy or strength to do anything, unless it involves drinking…
Drinking and drugging make me ‘mentally deficient’ because I’m prioritizing my next drink before my income, my education, and my relationships. Drinking and drugging are making me ‘not firmly decided’ because I don’t know who I am without the drink or the drug – when I’m drinking I’m fun, loud, excited, friendly, and confident, but when I’m not, I’m confused. And when it comes to drinking and drugging, I am most definitely ‘not able to withstand temptation or persuasion’ since the next drink or drug you put in front of me is Gone in Sixty Seconds.
It seems to be that drinking and doing drugs is making me weak, though I keep drinking because I’m trying to prove to everyone and myself that I am not weak.
At this point, I was confused. The one reliable companion I had in life is the exact thing that was making me weak. Where did I go from here? Did I accept that I was just a weak person, which is the last thing I wanted to do, ever. Or, do I try accepting my powerlessness over drugs and alcohol in hopes that I will find the strength I’ve always wanted?
Risk vs. Reward
There’s this concept in business called risk vs. reward.
Basically, this concept states that when you invest your personal assets into the market, there is a potential for loss, but there is also a potential for huge gain.
This concept can be applied to pretty much any aspect of life. If you take a risk, there is the potential for loss or ‘failure’, but there is also the potential for huge gain or ‘success’.
Getting sober is a potentially huge risk to our sanity; we are stepping away from the one thing we know makes the pain go away, however short lived this may be. But, there is also a potentially huge reward: happiness, serenity, and peace, friendship, freedom, usefulness, economic security…
As a fellow substance abuser, I know how much we love to take risks; we risk our life every day to get our next fix.
Why not take the biggest risk to date, and try this ‘powerlessness’ thing? The risk is losing time using, but the reward… The reward could be great.