Why do I use

#1

Sine the forum has this category, I figured I’d say something…

I’m in recovery from alcohol and drugs. 20 years clean n sober. I used to smoke cigarettes too. Alcohol n drugs eventually and inevitably inflicted serious consequences and pain on me. That pain made me…or rather made my mind, look. And what that mind was looking for was the secret. How could I continue to drink n drug which I used to shut the mind and it’s incessant “thinking” off, and get the consequences to back off a bit. Not go away…just back off. Turn the heat down. Thats how little I thought of myself. I wasn’t asking for freedom from addiction…just a short respite.

That lead me to rehab where to my shock and dismay they informed me that “alcohol n drugs are only a symptom of the problem”. To which I asked “then what IS the problem” to which they replied “YOU are the problem”. Me? Huh…how could that be. That got me into AA but I was in no way convinced nor did I buy into that cult crap. Little did I know then that my mind…or more accurately, the mind, had its own plans and defenses against anyone or anything taking away its ability to get me to drink n drug when it decided thats what it wanted to shut off the emotions and pain that came with living. It didn’t bother identifying any possible joy of living.

Let me give you an example. I asked my friend who had some years of sobriety… how can it be, that after a particularly heavy night of drinking and drugging along with the inevitable and relentless mental and physical anguish that follows, and I say to myself…”never again! I will not drink or drug again…ever”. And say it with all the force I can muster. And then, usually not long after making this potential life changing resolution, the same mind relents and eventually says…what the hell…let’s go. And I’m off to the races again. My friend looked at me and said “you’re brain is broken, stop using it”

What? Stop using it…what does that mean. He replied “if you were an accountant and needed a calculator to add and subtract numbers and every time you put in 2+2 and the calculator came back with 5 and was obviously broken, what would you do?” Yes… I would stop using it and get something that worked. He said to do the same here. So what worked? And he said spirituality.

That got me into reading about Zen and developing a meditation practice which lead me to Eckhart Tolle, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, Jordan Peterson, etc… it also lead me to realize that my friend was right. My mind was and had been running the show. I believed I was the thinker of the thoughts. I am not the thinker. I look at the mind and ego like the Wizard in the wizard of Oz. All through the movie the characters are petrified of the Wizard and as they approach him, the big booming voice frightens them even more. But once they pull the curtain back and see what they’ve been afraid of… the little weasely mind/ego, they are shocked. That is what I’ve been afraid of. That is what I’ve been allowing to run my life.

Of course, this has taken me 20 years to understand and I have barely a beginning of understanding. But I know now, to the core of my being, that I am not the thinker. Along the way, I came across a so called definition of an alcoholic…I think it can be applied to any addicted person. And it is: “an alcoholic is someone who refuses to give up a life of failure without a fight”

That was me. Thats is my mind…the mind.

I also believe now that what the mind had discovered via alcohol n drugs was a repeatable way to shut itself off…or as Eckhart Tolle says “ a way to go below thought “ which in the beginning is experienced as euphoria.

I learned that I could go beyond thought meditating and stay in that state afterwards with no consequences other than good things happening.

AA uses a phrase that describes the emptiness addiction leads you to as “incomprehensible demoralization”. I know that feeling as all addicts do.

So I went from someone who would have settled for a life of misery bearable only with the constant trips to oblivion via alcohol n drugs to someone who can experience basically whatever life brings me without having to drink or drug. I’m not saying I like everything life gives me, I don’t. But I haven’t had to take a drink or drug in over 20 years…that is a miracle. That is a blessing.
Thanks for reading

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(Benjamin Lupton) #2

Thank you for sharing Rico, it was very insightful.

Personally, I’ve battled with Trichotillomania through my life, as well as at times just being bed ridden not ready to face the world. I went through some trauma more than 5 years ago now. Around that time, I found refuge in Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, and Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God. Which resulted in the same “you’re brain is broken, stop using it” conclusion, which led to the thought “I have a brain, perhaps I should learn how to use it.”, that led to psychology and philosophy, notably through Steppenwolf, Moral Landscape, and then Peterson.

Along the way, I also found this resource:

Which taught me the difference between Adaptive Coping Mechanisms, and Maladaptive Copying Mechanisms, and that to successfully cope, one can either reduce the load, or get better at handling it - which can be specific techniques for the specific issue (reading textbooks on hair pulling in my case and attending support groups - identifying the dragon and understanding its nature as Peterson would say), or general techniques that will work cross-issue (exercise). This eventually led me to discovering how hormones like Dopamine, Serotonin, Cortisol affect us, and affect men and women differently. As well as the role of pheromones in mate selection. This then led me to research biological and behavioural environments that would facilitate better outcomes. Such as achieving runners high routinely (go for 30-45 minute run, no matter how slow you go it doesn’t matter, gradually increase speed - 30min/5km in you will get a wall, when you blast through that you get the high - set a goal, and make sure you accomplish it - accomplishing goals releases dopamine, and the more you make that routine, the more your serotonin systems make you feel satisfied), as well as my No Fap journey, and so on. I don’t recall doing accurate note taking back then, but I can have a search if this is of interest to anyone.

This would probably be the hardest part about hair pulling in myself and others. One actually needs to give up the game they are playing, and most people are stuck in their false wishes about the world, not willing to let go and play a more adaptive game or adopt a different perspective. CBT seems to be a good tool for addressing that maladaptive pattern, as a technique of solving the problems in realtime, to build better circumstances and environments that support clearer thinking. But I’m not sure CBT adequately solves the existential angst accompanying the void that a bad habit attempts to fill, to solve that, it seems only lifestyle strategies (#praxis) partnered with correct design (#philosophy) are the best option for that.


I’m really glad you have been able to achieve a path that has worked well for you for over 20 years, what a tremendous feat!

It would be interesting to explore this topic in one of our #administration:meetings, or just expand on it further here.

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#3

Thank you for the kind words. Glad you liked it too.

All my problems come from the mind. It judges and reacts and all the while, I believe it’s me that’s thinking. It never accepts what is and it never wants me in the now. It always wants to go back to some past or project forward to some future. My mind has been conditioned by how it perceives my life, mostly from experiences as a kid when I had no power to stop or affect any change.
Thanks to meditation, AA, Eckhart, Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta, I know undeniably that I a, not the thinker and they’re not my thoughts. I try to use the mind as it should be used and stop there. Like remembering how to get home, pay the bills, do my job, etc… but when it comes to living life, being a friend, having relationships, the mind and it’s thoughts ruin everything.
I have found that the answer to all my perceived problems is never anything that changes the situation or circumstances. The answer is always the same…more spirituality. More spirituality allows me to accept what already is…or, as ET says, to stop resisting what is and just be.
I’ve also found that, while self knowledge about how the mind works in me and why, is good to know…self knowledge alone will not relieve me of the burden of the mind. Only meditation will do that.
Thanks again

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