Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Love, Dignity, and Respect

In the fall of 2015, my ex and I took an extended vacation to the northeastern United States. One of our goals was to see the beautiful fall foliage for which New England is famous.

That was also a time that marked the seventh month of my use of methamphetamine. I had no idea at the time that I was an addict. In my mind, meth was just a fun recreational drug. My disease had me fooled into thinking I was in control.

We were to fly from St. Louis on the first leg of our journey. The thought of flying with drugs did not appeal to me, so I had decided ahead of time that I would leave them behind. In my mind, there would be plenty on that trip to occupy my time, so the drugs wouldn’t be necessary anyway.

Over the coming ten days there was plenty to do. Though I thought about those drugs sitting back in my car, I wasn’t tempted to try and buy any during the trip. The ease with which I could just walk away from them for that short period emboldened me, further convincing me that my drug use was just that, drug use. No addict here.

The two of us enjoyed that trip. As we toured from Washington, DC to Maine, I became convicted about my drug use, and the double life I had been living. Near the end of the trip, it was decided. As soon as we got back I would throw away my drugs and never again pick up a pipe or syringe. Further, I would make a serious effort to rebuild the relationship with my ex. A marriage that had lasted almost thirty years at that point. I would try to find love again.

Still thinking that my drug use was under control, I convinced myself that there was no need to tell my ex about it. No, I would do the “noble” thing, and “protect” her from knowledge of the drugs and women.

We had parked our car outside a hotel near the airport in St. Louis. After arriving there, I said I wanted to go back into the hotel restroom to freshen up before the trip home. Grabbing that pouch that contained my drugs, I headed inside. My goal was to simple throw them away and head home. I would drive into the sunset, leaving the drugs and the lifestyle behind.

What happened next, for an addict, was predictable. As soon as I was alone with my drugs, all conviction was lost. I was powerless. Minutes later I walked out of that restroom, once again high. I had picked right back up where I had left off.

Common sense should have told me that I had a problem. Unfortunately, when this addict is using, common sense is nowhere to be found. Rather than working on a marriage that was already troubled, I withdrew even further from it. I had a secret to keep, and being close to anyone not part of that secret life was dangerous.

Looking back, the relationship was so strained by that point that I don’t think it could have been salvaged. Had it not been for the drugs, however, the end of that marriage would likely have been handled with at least some dignity and respect.

Dignity and respect were both missing from my life. Neither mattered as I sank further and further into my addiction. Eventually, all that mattered was the drugs.

The Narcotics Anonymous program is one of complete abstinence from all drugs. I need only look back to the fall of 2015 to understand why complete abstinence in necessary. For me, any mind changing or mood altering substance brings about a change. The Basic Text compares this change to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It says that eventually Dr. Jekyll is lost forever, allowing Mr. Hyde to gain complete control.

In retrospect, that is the first evidence that drugs had complete control. With ten days of abstinence, the physical addiction was pretty much gone. Yet the obsession and compulsion to use were present in full force.

This story has been rattling around in my mind for the past few days, causing me a good deal of angst. That day proves to me that, when it comes to drugs, one is too many, and a thousand is never enough. I continued using after that day. I continued living a life that went against my core values and beliefs. Dr. Jekyll disappeared completely. Mr. Hyde was in complete control.

My story could easily have ended there. For most addicts, once Mr. Hyde is in control, he stays in control. Had it not been for the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, I’m sure Hyde would have won.

Through NA, I have been able to stop using. I’ve lost the desire to use. I’ve even found a new way to live. That new way of life has restored my respect and dignity. It has brought love back into my life. It has provided me with an opportunity to start over. To love my wife. To treat both her and our marriage with dignity and respect.

By working the steps, and allowing my life to be guided by spiritual principles, I have been given a second chance at life. Today, I have a choice. I can choose to keep Mr. Hyde out of my life.

The past cannot be undone. I can never make right all the wrongs done. However, the past does not have to define me. Rather, it serves as a reminder. It encourages me to stay the course. To take my recovery seriously. To love Amanda passionately. To live life each day without the use of drugs.

Have a remarkable day!

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