I’m 44 years old, and at times I’ve struggled from substance abuse issues. Am I an alcoholic? I don’t know, but I know that drinking in excess has sometimes caused me profound difficulty. One time I went to an alcoholics anonymous meeting to be told that “I’m not an alcoholic,” which to me was somewhat offensive because they were certainly taking my own problems from drinking for granted.
Sobriety has led me to a much more “spiritual” supernatural awakening. I’ve experience it enough now to know that there are blessings when one cultivates the unaltered self.
I noticed long ago that being drunk or stoned completely distanced me from cultivating a spiritual center. My friend Howard once told me that the miracle happens after about a year of sobriety. I’d say it took me more than 1.5 to 2 years for this to happen. My normal creativity finally returned to me after this long period of time. I managed to record an album of music last year completely sober! This was a completely novel experience because most of the music I’ve ever written was done so in an altered state.
When I drink heavily, a few days afterwards, I get what I call “sledgehammer brain,” meaning that I can feel my mood and state of mind bottoming out to experience a severe emotional low. I also know that it compromises my values. I don’t trust myself to behave when I’m drinking and unattended. I do and say things that I wouldn’t do when I’m completely sober, so if I’m being perfectly honest, I know that drinking doesn’t encourage the best in me to maintain my character.
Of all the drugs I’ve ever tried, none is the monumental gateway drug that alcohol is. As soon as I start feeling a buzz after a few drinks, it powerfully compels me to smoke marijuana. I smoked marijuana for 19 years straight. There were occasional breaks in my habit, 3 weeks here and there, one time 3 months, another time 5 months, but never what I would call a proper long term break. I went a long time smoking marijuana thinking that I’d do it forever, and that the idea of quitting in any real sense seemed completely impossible.
Then, after becoming a father, something profound changed with me. I realized more poignantly that I didn’t want to be drunk and/or stoned all the time. This realization might also be attributed to my getting older. These indulgent activities have their fun aspects, but I was very tired of being in a mental fog. The physical and emotional drain of getting drunk were severe, and the mental lapses from marijuana smoking always had me longing for clarity.
It did not help that I was the ringleader shock jock on a podcast of my own making called Marijuana Radio. I was popular and entrenched in a community that made smoking too much marijuana a badge of honor. I felt trapped. I didn’t know how to carry on and quit smoking marijuana. So at some point, especially after becoming father to a wonderful little girl, I made a concerted effort to quit the show and especially to sober up.
I’m pleased to say that I have been “mostly” sober for the last 4 years. I originally went 10 months without smoking marijuana but continued to drink alcohol. Then I fooled around with smoking marijuana for a couple months before making a solid commitment to quit BOTH drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Then, last summer I started fooling around with alcohol again. I wasn’t out of control, but it was enough to create a slippery slope with my self discipline.
Finally, this fall, I once again caved in to smoke marijuana again for about 6 weeks. I had gone 2 years, 10 months and 8 days without smoking before I caved in. Smoking was only fun the first time, and for the rest of the time it was a complex burden. It was abundantly clear to me how it destroys my ability to maintain good and disciplined habits. I got back on track to quit smoking in December and now I have over 2 months without it, but it’s not ALL easy. I’ve taken to drinking alcohol on occasion, and it definitely amplifies the temptation to smoke marijuana again.
I have a clear vision of why I need to stay sober. I know that I maintain a much more stable mood when I am completely free of drinking and smoking. For me, one thing is sure, it’s that smoking annihilates my good disciplined habits, whether it’s reading every day, studying things to learn new skills, and it even grinds my exercise to a halt. It’s very frustrating, but fortunately I am very aware of my own circumstances. Every single day I pray at least once, sometimes twice. I always pray to maintain my sobriety as best I can.
My daughter is old enough and aware enough to notice the change in my personality when I smoke or drink. So consequently, I want to be a father who fundamentally models good behavior. I know that I can do it fairly well, but it’s a constant struggle. She is my number one reason why I want to live a more disciplined existence. I can’t promise to any of you that I won’t slip into bad habits again, but I an promise you that I’ll do my best to get back on track. I do know that my mood is much more even keel when I stay sober. This should be enough, but for those of us who have overindulged, we know that it's not that easy.
Feel welcome to tell me YOUR story in the comments. --> I’m especially interested in your history with substance abuse.
You will always get the “real deal” from me.
I’ll always be an open book for you and hope that my experience somehow contributes positively to your own lives.
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