Twice this past week I heard about a pill that will remove addiction and bring a person into recovery. Taking the pill is supposed to stop the cravings and even allow an alcoholic to take a drink or two without triggering a fatal obsession of needing ‘more’. What a magic pill indeed that might be to those for whom it is effective. However, I have learned that the disease of addition is three part disease: physical, emotional and spiritual. A pill only deals with the physical side of our disease.
I don’t claim that a twelve step recovery program is the only way to find a way out. I only know it works for for me, as long as I work this program. It is a program that treats all three aspects of my disease. A pill, while it seems the answer to an addict’s problems, is an easier, softer way that ultimately won’t work because it doesn’t deal with many of the root problems that result in addiction. By working the steps I was able realize that I didn’t just have a problem with substances, my real difficulties lay in my inability to face life as it is. As they say, “I came because of my drinking problem but I stayed for my thinking problem.”
The lure of the quick fix or easy money, is often impossible to resist. We want the results without putting in the work needed to achieve that result. I want the great car, but want to find a way to get it without having to work and save to buy it. I want the great relationship so I buy a book that will show me how easy it is. I want to quit drinking so I buy a pill so I won’t have to go to a recovery program and actually do the work I need to do about my approach to life.
Most of us know that simply removing the substance from an addict might force that addict to be clean or the drunk to be sober, but it won’t alter the fact that all the problems that we sought to escape are still there. All of the difficulties we had dealing with resentments, anger and fear are still there. Take the substance away and those character traits are all still present and often magnified because the drug or alcohol is no longer present. I need the program to help me to deal with ‘me’, my resentment, anger and fear so that I can live with myself and others in relative happiness, joy and freedom.
If addiction were a simple disease that only had a physical component then popping another pill might be the answer. I have come to realize that it is multifaceted. Before coming into a twelve step program I stopped on my own several times, once for almost five years. When I started back, I was completely clean and sober. I can’t blame the substance for making me start again: there wasn’t anything in my system. I must learn how to deal with the emotional and spiritual components as well if I am to find a recovery that works.