Walter, with 2½ years since his last drink, shares his story…
The Cure to Addiction…
Is it possible? Are we close to a cure? No. AA was founded in 1935, and since then we still don’t know what causes it or how to treat it. A holistic cure will attack/treat the root causes.
The Rat Park experiment by Bruce Alexander points to the conclusion that the causes of addiction are social and environmental, rather than genetics or chemical dependency. In the study, the addictive tendencies were eliminated when the stress was reduced and the environment changed.
Johann Hari’s Ted Talk says that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, it’s connection. Addiction is not about the pleasurable effects of substances, rather it is a symptom of the user’s inability to form deep connections with other human beings.
The phenomena that is addiction will likely die out in a global community whose only borders are the sky.
[16:19] Paul Introduces Walter.
Walter is 47 years old, in Waco, TX. He’s been sober for over two years. He works in real estate. He is divorced and has a son. He likes hiking, movies and reading. He feels more present with his son now that he is sober. His son had just turned 3 when his wife left.
[19:22] Give us a little background about your drinking.
He came from an alcoholic family. Both his dad and uncle both died from alcoholism. His mom got sober when he was 15, right around the time he started to drink. He was a binge drinker. He went to a party school in Colorado. He moved back in with his parents and began to drink alone. He drank his way through his 20’s. In his 30’s, he married his drinking partner. They had a child. She didn’t want to be a mom. He wanted to clean up. They split. The first 90 days were tough. He also quit smoking. He relapsed but hasn’t relapsed since then. He is now serious about sobriety. He’s active in AA. He just went to Peru with Cafe RE.
[25:15] At what point did your drinking partner relationship turn?
They were a rebound relationship. They had a lot in common. She was a great adventure partner. They had a similar relationship with alcohol. They helped each other hide drinking from other people. He feels the presence of his son saved his life.
[29:40] Did you try to moderate? Did you experience a rock bottom moment?
He definitely tried to moderate. He always knew about recovery because of his mom. When he drank at a friend’s house he woke up and realized he had a problem. He and his wife got divorced. They made it painless, and were both fair. They focused on their son and his needs. He’s glad he didn’t stay married to another alcoholic.
[34:11] How did you know that this time would be different?
Every previous time before this one, sobering up in a jail or spending time in a hospital, he always thought it was bad luck. He still felt in control. At first he went to AlAnon because he thought his wife was the one with the problem, then he realized that he was also an alcoholic. He came out to his mother and spilled everything to her. He needed to tell people he was an alcoholic.
[37:45] What did early recovery look like for you?
He didn’t know of any other options other than AA, so he jumped in pretty quickly. He started to work the program, and he feels lucky that he has met some great people. Reconnecting with men in sobriety has been good. He has found hope and resilience.
[40:49] What was the Peru trip like for you?
It was an awesome opportunity on so many levels. He didn’t really know most people when he arrived. He got to know everyone there a little bit at a time. It was not an easy hike but it was worth the trip.
[45:48] What is your recovery like after 2 years?
He is addressing his underlying fears that lead him to drinking. His feelings of not being good enough or not being loved. He still deals with a negative inner dialogue. He feels more self aware. His interactions with people have changed. He used to live for comedic validation. He’s more accepting of himself and the present moment.
[50:50] Rapid Fire Round
- What was your worst memory from drinking?Waking up in jail on his 5th wedding anniversary.
- Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?drawing a blank
- What’s your plan moving forward?
Keep taking it one day at a time. Keep doing what’s working. Keep looking for opportunities to be present for people.
- What’s your favorite resource in recovery?
AA, and sober traveling. He loves meeting like minded people.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?Focus on what you can control. Accept what you can’t. Know the difference.
- What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?It’s ok, just keep trying. When you’re ready, it will happen. You don’t have to hit bottom first.
- You might be an alcoholic if…“…if you get arrested on your 5th wedding anniversary.” “…if you’re using a fake ID to buy booze so you can drink by yourself before you’ve turned 21.”
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”