Abstention is the act or habit of deliberate self-denial. Twenty eight years ago this week I gave up Alcohol, nicotine, sugar in my tea and all recreational mood altering drugs. I had no choice really for they gave ME up, white flag . . end of.
I tried giving up 14 months before in 1981 when Professor Macintyre, leading world authority on Liver disease at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School London, said I had less than 4 months to live if I carried on drinking. It took 8 relapses over a 14 month period to see finally that I had a DRUG PROBLEM. Even in running away to Saudi Arabia a few months after the Royal Free warning did not deter me from smuggling half bottles of whiskey into Jeddah, alongside amyl nitrate crystals. No worries when it came to my 17 year habit of scoffing valium unprescribed, I just bought them over the counter in Saudi pharmacies like buying chocolate bars. The same happens in India now, with the over 50’s stocking up on Valium & Viagra at giveaway prices, some buy boxes and boxes to sell back home to fund their winter break.
Always nudge a pensioner in a supermarket for a drug drop.
Looking back it was dope, hash, cannabis, weed that did me in. I couldn’t smoke a joint without seeing a fresh rack in front of me. I wasn’t that keen on smoking dope either, convincing myself that smoking it caused time delays and feelings of being in blackout, so I learnt to grate it onto buttered Ritz Crackers, woofing it down in one. Awful things happened when I danced with dope, often waking to a sea of frantic faces ” do you know what you have done? “.
Eventually I surrendered the lot when I went to self help anonymous recovery meetings around addiction and I have been clean since that first meeting in October 1982.
Previously I thought giving up would make me a social pariah, that I didn’t like people telling me what to do, that I knew best. I also had to rid myself of the notion that something, some avenue of escape was being ” snatched ” from me. In the end as an act of surrender I quietly put my toys on the table and began the walk into adulthood, responsibility and eventual spiritual direction.
Yes we do recover, but it is not a given or a gift. The gift is to be aware that addiction lurks in the deepest pockets of the ego, the misplaced self that thinks it knows best. Could I safely use again? Some Breathworkers have suggested that if I find the right affirmation, or the wrong core of my being to be challenged then I would master it. The truth is I have mastered it, just for today and the 28 years before it, to be conscious at all times, fully alive and free from active addiction.
As for tomorrow, I work the same spiritual request as TAV SPARKS, Stanislav Grof Holotropic Breathwork Trainer, as suggested in his book THE WIDE OPEN DOOR : The Twelve Steps, Spiritual Tradition & the New Psychology.
It works – if you work it.
” The 12 Step Programmes are a brilliant and effective path to healing oneself. I feel they are a major spiritual path in the world today and will end up bringing more people to their own inner Spiritual connection than any other source ” – SHAKTI GAWAIN
– author of Creative Visualisation, Return To the Garden, Living In the Light, and Path of Transformation: How Healing Ourselves Can Change the World.