12 Years Clean…and I’m Still An Addict

I’ve lost touch with most of my old addict friends. Twelve years is a long time to be away from that playground and those playmates.

Of the friends I do still see, we seem to have traded the drug addictions for other addictions. Some arguably as harmful, some possibly less so.

Some went clean but not sober. Some went sober but found other vices. Either way, the addict never vanished. The vices just changed.

And I guess I never thought that when I gave the drugs up after ten years of devotion to them, that other vices would fill their place.

Where I no longer have the consolation of a drug to numb me or help me cope with life when I just didn’t want to face it, I’ve found myself chasing other dragons just to feel high.

Sometimes, being lost in my work can consume me in a similar way.

Or there’s the social media feedback loop of checking email, Facebook, Instagram, etc. (especially when you market your business as aggressively as I do.)

Sometimes, massive consumption of books via physical or audio means can give me a  rush. This odd aching thrill of volume upon volume of words and information that I can devour for a hole that knows not how to be filled.

And I think most would agree that trading cocaine for books isn’t such a bad deal.

They wouldn’t be incorrect but I am still chasing that high.

Much like weight loss when people are eating to satisfy an urge that goes beyond hunger, we’ve all got holes we haven’t determined how to fill.

Many of my longstanding clients may remember that I sobered up for about four years. Since alcohol was never a big vice of mine, it was an easy thing to let go of.

But when Marissa and I were on our honeymoon, we celebrated with some French champagne almost every night we were in Paris.

Since then, I have a drink almost daily.

But only one.

This is one place where I do find that I look forward to the drink at the end of a long day but it’s always just one. One measured shot of bourbon or one bottle of beer, etc. Alcohol is a dicey proposition for me. I don’t trust what it does to my body so I have to keep my limits in line.

If I were to ever need to cut my calories or be on point with tracking, alcohol would likely be the first thing to go. I don’t need it but I find this odd comfort in knowing it’s there. The addict in me stays tested.

Something I’ve mentioned before when I talk about cleaning up is that, I wish I would have known that the addict would always be a part of me.

That there would always be a part that doesn’t know the meaning of moderation.

It’s that same part of me that likely thrives as what many would consider to be a workaholic.

I’ve found that having routines and daily/weekly rituals help keep the addict with some semblance of control.

And I thrive on that control.

So, when I work with people who are struggling with their eating habits, I do understand the struggle.

I’ve had to reshape the person I am and navigate him clear away from the person I was just 12 years ago. And while I can argue that I have changed for the better, those demons don’t stay asleep. They just have other outlets.

I hear clients talk about the food habits they can’t control. I hear them talk about the lure of foods that they eat uncontrollably. I understand those things.

Maybe you don’t associate with drug addiction but you do believe you have food patterns that share a similarity. My advice would be to remove the temptations until you have a better handle on them. This might include throwing out the hyper-palatable foods from the fridge and the pantry. Or it may mean that you need to stop watching TV at night because every time you “Netflix and Chill” you devour a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream or anything else that wasn’t nailed down.

Be mindful that many people close to you are not fighting your battle and they are not aligned with your goals. This is not uncommon.

YOU have your battle.

YOUR battle matters.

If I can give you any wisdom after being clean for all these years: you will always struggle with this. The struggles will ebb and flow and sometimes it will feel like they’ve vanished.

But they don’t.

And the sooner you can accept that reality and prepare for it, the less surprised you’ll be when you find that “Hey, I’m still fighting the same war I used to…just less frequently and with less severity.”

And that’s a victory.

A big victory.

“We Make Great People Greater”