Do AA, NA, and 12-Step-Programs just reinforce the addiction to mental extremes? Read from author Will Jelbert why Sobriety Does Not Cure Addiction… and learn what might be a better solution.
You know how there are some people that you immediately like?
The author of today’s article is one of them. I met Will at the Kalikalos retreat center in Greece.
We both went to Dr. Brad Blanton’s Radical Honesty Workshop.
Will is just a great guy and a genuinely friendly human being.
On top, he published a book called the Happiness Animal, the world’s first dedicated exercise guide to happiness.
I still remember him sitting in his chair, staring at the ocean and researching Eckhart Tolle, wearing his pink dress shirt.
Today I want to share his article on addiction and sobriety.
I often argued that sobriety does not cure addiction. To me sobriety seems like another addiction… just another mental extreme to cling onto for the illusion of control.
Will shows us, that we can only cure addiction through human connection.
He knows… He is a self-proclaimed recovering alcoholic.
Enter Will Jelbert
Sobriety Does Not Cure Addiction
‘The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection’ – Johann Hari
One of the key themes in The Happiness Animal is that happiness is connecting well with existence. Connecting well with existence, to a great degree, depends on connecting well with others (being honest, kind, curious, aware and courageous).
So if you remove the ‘others’ from your life, by traveling alone away from family and girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and wives, you can put a temporary block on your ability to connect well with existence.
But you don’t need physical distance to create a disconnect…
You could be living with your wife, your husband, sharing the same room. If you are silent in that room, if you have secrecy in that room, if you are unkind, afraid to tell the truth, suffering in a feeling of not being good enough, and ashamed to tell those close to you about it, the people in that room with you may as well be in Antarctica.
Loneliness, isolation, a feeling of not belonging where you are, and not feeling able to talk to anyone about how you feel, is the best recipe for unhappiness and depression.
When I experienced loneliness and isolation, whether it was physical or due to a lack of connecting well with the people around me, I like many others mistakenly believed that alcohol could be a temporary replacement for connecting with others.
When I divorced, my partner had disappeared. I craved a replacement connection. I tried drinking more, but my health deteriorated and I became progressively more and more depressed.
The more I drank, the more ashamed I became of myself, the more ashamed I felt, the more disconnected I felt, the more I craved connection, the more I wanted to drink.
Even recently I had to remind myself , leaving my girlfriend in New York , that that ‘one drink’ wouldn’t be a substitute for connecting well with her.
What I did instead, was reach out to all the other people in my life, and that included strangers in cafes, and sharing a smile on the train when a lunatic is giving a speech about ‘that bastard Tony Abbot’.
In Johann Hari’s new book, Chasing the Scream, Hari documents research which shows that heroin addicts who go cold turkey within an open and supportive environment surrounded by family or friends do not start using again, whereas those without human support and connection, are much more likely to end up back in jail or rehab, or worse.
Addiction is a craving for connection.
So the next time we feel alone and disconnected, why don’t we try reaching for the phone instead of the bottle?
Or sit down and open up to our partner about what’s really going on, about how we feel distance between us.
Or reach for the door handle, or go meet with a friend or family member.
Let’s do something kind for someone, tell someone the truth about how we feel not good enough sometimes. Let’s empathize with someone else’s problem.
Let’s connect well.
And let us remember the words of Johann Hari:
‘The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection’.
Article first published on www.happinessanimal.com
Postscript by Marvin
My friend Brad Blanton often claims that alcoholics are not cured by entering and sticking to some sort of twelve step program… that is just a replacement addiction, like using methadone instead of heroine.
An alcoholic is cured when he can have one or two drinks with friends.
Sharing our feelings and connecting well with others is a great way to break out of our minds reactive control patterns and addictive habits.
Have you ever gotten yourself into addictive patterns?
I know I have many times… I got myself addicted to sex as a replacement for intimacy, ecstasy pills as a replacement for human connection and food as a replacement for being with my emptiness.
Share your story in the comments… Will and I will answer your questions.