Our national drug policies are being set, and re-set recently on the basis of popular opinion, rather than on the basis of risk of addiction or risk of death. There is no national drug policy, just a confusing and contradictory set of policies that are constantly changing, as those who want to cut the death rate are in conflict with those who want to make addictive drugs more available. There is very little science, and lots of politics.
I’m a big fan of the word grace. Not just because it’s a pretty and hopeful word, but because of the significance it holds in recovery and in life in general.
“Detachment is not a wall; it is a bridge.”
–Courage to Change p. 22
Detachment. It’s often viewed as an ugly word, at least at first, by family members who love someone who struggles with alcoholism or addiction. Many of us come with pre-conceived notions about what detachment means. Most of us decide, without delving any further into the concept, that it means abandonment. And, we know that we’re not willing to abandon someone we love, especially when they are struggling, so therefore we won’t be detaching from them – thank you very much!
You might remember the famous “Last Lecture” given a few years ago. Well, this is my last blog and so I am going to share with you three of the most important realizations I have been blessed with in my years as a twelve-stepper. My recovery date is May 1, 1979 and so I consider myself a mere beginner in The Climb, but here is my humble offering.
My sobriety date is July 4, 1989. I planned it that way. It became clear that I needed to get sober, but I was taking a lot of drug as well as drinking a lot, and detox was difficult, at age 40. I chose to detox myself, gradually, over a period of six weeks. The timing worked out to July third, but I stretched it a bit, because I thought that the Fourth of July, Independence Day, would make a better sobriety anniversary.
In the spring of 1989, I finally figured out that I was an alcoholic. I had taught Addiction Studies in a Graduate School for four years without ever figuring out that I was an alcoholic. I even told the old joke that an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than his doctor, not realizing that I thought that an alcoholic was someone who drinks more than an associate professor. It was only years later, when I decided to go to Hazelden as a student in their chemical dependency counselor program that I read the textbook, the DSM-III-R, and applied it to myself that I figured it out. I carefully detoxed myself over a six week period and joined the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I did so with a sense of grim resignation.
I made it through another Mother’s Day. As a person who loves to celebrate, I definitely love the aspect of honoring the loving, nurturing women in our lives. And, yet, it can still be a reminder of something that is missing in my own life – something that I dreamed of that didn’t take place because of the disease of alcoholism.
I have been amazed at how many of us come forth from a good 5th step and immediately say, “I sure have a lot to work on.” We climb to the sixth step and realize that we have nothing to work on, unless our Higher Power indicates such to us. The 6th step is counter-intuitive. I am eager to get working on my defects but my Higher Power is telling me to hold my horses until He gives the command, pointing out which shortcoming He wants to lengthen and what he wants from me.
Tomorrow I’m flying to Grand Rapids, Michigan and driving an hour north to the town of Greenville. It used to be prosperous when there was an Electrolux vacuum cleaner factory there, but the factory moved to Mexico in 2006. 2700 people lost their jobs, and the economy has not recovered. The town is 90% white, and many people drive an hour into Grand Rapids for jobs. There are no treatment opportunities in the county.