April 17 - Recognizing the Call of Addiction

My heart breaks every time I hear the struggle of addiction manifesting itself in a person’s life. I remember the battle so well. I would wake up in the morning all ready to tackle this demon that seemed to control my body every day. I was resolved and felt confident.

Then sometime in the early afternoon, the thoughts would start to enter my mind. “Oooh, tonight would be a good night to fix frozen daiquiris and serve an hors-d’oeuvre platter instead of dinner...how romantic!” or “I think I’ll bake that chocolate cake for the kids and frost it with my mother’s recipe. It is important to perpetuate family traditions.” Then by the time it was cocktail hour or dessert time, I was already hooked, and I would put off recovery or a healthy diet for yet another day. Operating like that ensured that life without addiction was just out of my reach.

In order to find and maintain the sobriety that has meant so much to me since my last drink in 1979, I had to learn how to hear and identify that first whisper of addiction and also all of its subsequent echoes. The whisper never sounds like addiction; it typically sounds like fun. It is the seduction of immediate pleasure (SIP).

I need to keep my eye on my addiction at all times. I need to remember that it is not fun, even when it masquerades as something desirable. I need to be able to spot it miles away. I need to know what it looks like…smells like…sounds like. I need to know it is my poison in that it robs the world of the gift of my life. I need to remember that it disconnects me from my soul, that it robs my children of their mother, that it makes it impossible for me to sustain an intimate relationship with myself and others. I need to be able to think beyond the message it leaves on my brain that says it is fun or necessary and to remember the pain and the heartache and the aftereffects that led me to wanting to leave it behind in the first place.

I need to be able to create a support system that I can rely upon the minute I detect the first whisper of temptation. Whether it is a list of ten people I might call, a program site I can visit, or an activity that meets my true adult needs, I only need to know that I will jump into action, without a thought, without a hesitation, without exception. This is not a time to try and figure out whether or not I will take that action; it is a time to take the action, every time.

Addiction is a formidable opponent, but it loses every time to conscious behavior backed by consistent support. Addictive behavior is composed of unconscious cravings that are fed with automatic, unconscious thoughts, persistent denial and the absence of awareness.

One key to recovery is the recognition of the signs that precede the fullblown craving. The earlier you detect these signs and the sooner you respond to a craving with one of your structures of support, the more likely you are to discover the success you so desire. So, whenever you hear the call of addiction…answer on the first ring with your non-negotiable plan of recovery…you’ll soon find yourself realizing a clear and exciting connection with life.

What do you do when you first detect the whispers of addiction? Do you ignore their persistent call, or are you persistent in calling your plan of support into action? What do you need to recognize addiction’s disguises? Is your support plan in place? What are the ways that you recognize the call of addiction?

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