Our story begins in Toronto in the early 1980s. An American businessman and his Russian associate were engaged in conversation. The Russian, as might be expected, was having a glass of vodka. Without apparent reason, the Russian asked, “Do you know why so many people in my country are alcoholics?” His companion assured him that he did not. The answer took him by surprise. “Because they want to forget the pain of everyday life.”
The “Whys” of Addiction & Recovery
In a 2014 article published by Indian Country Media Network, the writer related a similarly surprising story from his own encounter with an addiction recovery counselor. It was not something the counselor told him. It was something the counselor asked. “Why did you stop drinking?”
At first blush, that seems like an odd question. Isn’t the answer obvious?
Although every individual’s answer is uniquely different, the answer boils down to something like this: “Because my life was a mess.”
The reason the counselor asked the question is even less obvious – until she asked the second question. “Why did you start drinking?”
A Wise Insight into Addiction & Recovery
Pause for a minute to reflect on both stories. There is a thread that ties them together. That thread is pain.
Not all alcoholism or drug abuse begins because of pain. There are many cases where the original intent was the allure of pleasure. Yet, if you are honest enough with yourself to dig a little deeper, you might discover that the pleasure you were seeking was an alternative to the pain of everyday life – even if the pain was merely boredom.
- The college student’s weekend drinking binge is a relief from the burden of classwork and homework.
- The businessman’s happy hour drinks are a relief from the stress of a hard day’s work.
- The housewife’s late afternoon relaxer helps to ease the drudgery of the same old routine.
Call it drudgery, call it stress, or call it a burden, they all represent some form of pain. Then there are those who become addicted to prescribed painkillers.
In addiction recovery, when you are challenged to be brutally honest with yourself, you will discover that, in many cases, both the beginning and the end of addiction is related to relieving pain.
The use of alcohol and drugs may have an innocuous beginning. There can be a point, however, when use becomes abuse. That is the point where the pleasure of it feels better than life itself. That is a tipping point where addiction begins.
When you become addicted to alcohol and drugs, it may be easy to think you find a refuge from the pain in your life. The pain that you have tried to escape becomes even greater as your addiction exacerbates the problems that already exist. The experience that once provided relief now inflicts its own pain.
The Wisdom Needed for Recovery
When you are seeking recovery, you have realized, at least subconsciously, that the pain of addiction is greater than the pains of life itself. The reason for the question, “Why did you stop drinking?” is to help you consciously understand both areas of pain. When you realize that, your expectations in recovery will be more realistic.
Thinking that life is going to be hunky-dory post-recovery will lead to relapse and failure. Life is hard, even to the point of being painful at times. Sometimes it is a mess. The solution found in a bottle, a needle, or a pill does not make the pain go away.
Genuine recovery happens when you realize that your objective is not to have a life without pain, but a life without the unnecessary pain caused by addiction. If you would like to learn more about the hope of realistic recovery, contact us. Someone who cares is waiting for your call.