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Torn - go back to NA or stay away

Jstew318

Greenlighter
Joined
Jun 8, 2017
Messages
13
Location
Oxford, MS
Hey everyone...short of it...been an addict in and out of rehab 23 years. Heroin to alcohol, all over the board. Finally got clean and lasted 17 months before my gradual decline. Began with a drink then progressed to pot, meth and benzos...started smoking pot everyday again. But I've always had a difficult time considering this a drug.

I live in a small town, moved here out of sober living. I'm sad that the relationships I built are contingent upon my recovery, not who I am and this upsets me. I understand if being near me is not healthy for an addict. But, I'm not in active, active addiction...it's not the same, but I'm doing more now with psych, therapists, guru's...I miss some of the people though.

I'm alone a lot these days. But it's okay...Do I want to live 100% clean again? I don't know. I miss relationships so now I'm considering another geographical move the the West and see if maybe I can just have a normal life. Normal friends, be a normal person...live my life and stop being in fear. NA in my opinion, made me feel afraid to do anything outside the group. Like it was a force field, well I guess it's one that works...it did...I don't know...ranting now. Thanks!
 

Mmp85

Bluelighter
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
402
I found NA and AA to be toxic environments for me personally.Done much better with my psychiatrist, addiction counselor, and therapist.
 

Jstew318

Greenlighter
Joined
Jun 8, 2017
Messages
13
Location
Oxford, MS
Toxic environments? That's got me curious lol - I'm still trying to figure out what'll work for me. I have a friend writing a book on life after a 12 step program. Should be interesting.
 

Mmp85

Bluelighter
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
402
I feel like anytime you throw a bunch of addicts and recovered addicts into one room with no professional you've got the potential for things to turn toxic.
 

Dodger Guy LA

Bluelighter
Joined
May 29, 2016
Messages
173
I believe in AA / NA principles well most of them. I haven't been to a meeting in over a year, and rarely went to begin with.
It's not for everyone and some can do it without the program some cannot.
It's your program, if it works without the normal AA/NA program and your program works then work it. Some are critical about opinions on this.
 

simco

Bluelight Crew
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
2,257
Location
with the dead crow god
Hey, OP. I totally understand what you mean about NA's unintended social consequences. Personally, I find that from time to time I need to take a few steps back from NA. I used to think of it in terms of a hard split. But for the last year or so, when I start feeling weird about the fellowship, I just make it a point to go to fewer meetings...sometimes I take a break altogether. I find that if I dial back my involvement, when I return, things seem more positive again.

Basically, I think taking a break is perfectly reasonable. You can always go back, and you may find that the time away improves your experience in NA.

Best luck!
 

Jstew318

Greenlighter
Joined
Jun 8, 2017
Messages
13
Location
Oxford, MS
Thank you all for responding, these are all great view points. Very good point about throwing a bunch of addicts in a room to figure things out without a professional...I've never even thought about that. I know and love some of the folks that are in the rooms here, even though they are hardcore dedicated to their program and we are not really speaking at the moment, whatever keeps them alive is what matters to me.

When I first got clean, I was going to meetings 2 times a day, sometimes 3. At that time, I began to get back into my...not so much faith but principles of Buddhism and the laws of synchronicity. I thought if I could combine those two with the steps, I'd have a pretty awesome if help program. But...some event derailed my "spiritual" practicing and inturn, trickled down into the rooms and slowly as I pulled away. I see that I have an addictive personality in general. Doesn't matter what it is...but to be able to control this is what I want to accomplish.
 

herbavore

Bluelight Crew
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
14,922
Location
in a dream
Thank you all for responding, these are all great view points. Very good point about throwing a bunch of addicts in a room to figure things out without a professional...I've never even thought about that. I know and love some of the folks that are in the rooms here, even though they are hardcore dedicated to their program and we are not really speaking at the moment, whatever keeps them alive is what matters to me.

When I first got clean, I was going to meetings 2 times a day, sometimes 3. At that time, I began to get back into my...not so much faith but principles of Buddhism and the laws of synchronicity. I thought if I could combine those two with the steps, I'd have a pretty awesome if help program. But...some event derailed my "spiritual" practicing and inturn, trickled down into the rooms and slowly as I pulled away. I see that I have an addictive personality in general. Doesn't matter what it is...but to be able to control this is what I want to accomplish.
It sounds like you have gained valuable information about yourself and the nature of the problem as it exists for you so I have every faith that you will be able to deal with your addiction. I utilize everything when I have a problem--I see it as a cafeteria where I choose what is helpful for me and walk past what isn't. And that can even change day to day. Something that I could not connect to one day, made very good sense the next. My advice is to approach everything openly and proactively. You can find hardcore Buddhists in the world the same way that you can find hardcore dogmatic 12-steppers; some people need to have strict rules to feel safe. But that should not prevent you from taking what you need from any given philosophy. I think Buddhist philosophy is the best antidote to "addictive personality" because it deals with the nature of our relationship with desire. And because addiction is so much about anticipation (thoughts projected into the future) it is also a very good tool for practicing staying in the present with awareness.
 

herbavore

Bluelight Crew
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
14,922
Location
in a dream
Thank you all for responding, these are all great view points. Very good point about throwing a bunch of addicts in a room to figure things out without a professional...I've never even thought about that. I know and love some of the folks that are in the rooms here, even though they are hardcore dedicated to their program and we are not really speaking at the moment, whatever keeps them alive is what matters to me.

When I first got clean, I was going to meetings 2 times a day, sometimes 3. At that time, I began to get back into my...not so much faith but principles of Buddhism and the laws of synchronicity. I thought if I could combine those two with the steps, I'd have a pretty awesome if help program. But...some event derailed my "spiritual" practicing and inturn, trickled down into the rooms and slowly as I pulled away. I see that I have an addictive personality in general. Doesn't matter what it is...but to be able to control this is what I want to accomplish.
It sounds like you have gained valuable information about yourself and the nature of the problem as it exists for you so I have every faith that you will be able to deal with your addiction. I utilize everything when I have a problem--I see it as a cafeteria where I choose what is helpful for me and walk past what isn't. And that can even change day to day. Something that I could not connect to one day, made very good sense the next. My advice is to approach everything openly and proactively. You can find hardcore Buddhists in the world the same way that you can find hardcore dogmatic 12-steppers; some people need to have strict rules to feel safe. But that should not prevent you from taking what you need from any given philosophy. I think Buddhist philosophy is the best antidote to "addictive personality" because it deals with the nature of our relationship with desire. And because addiction is so much about anticipation (thoughts projected into the future) it is also a very good tool for practicing staying in the present with awareness.
 

neversickanymore

Moderator: DS
Staff member
Joined
Jan 23, 2013
Messages
23,571
Location
babysitting the argument in my head
I went back recently.. Really happy I have. Really good group of people in this circle of rooms... Pretty small town and I'm enjoying it. I'm going to rework the steps.. Fellowship has evolved since I was last in.. At least in this area.

Might as well check it out right.. What do you have to lose.
 

MrPubNub

Greenlighter
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
15
I am debating this same thing right now. I have had some success with AA/NA in the past, even if it was only for a short amount of time. I do not agree with all their principles, but who does? It's a group of people that just want to help. It can't hurt for you to at least check it out again.

I think you should try it. Have you ever worked the steps?

As I am giving you this advice, I am also giving myself advice. For that, I thank you :)
 

simco

Bluelight Crew
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
2,257
Location
with the dead crow god
I am debating this same thing right now. I have had some success with AA/NA in the past, even if it was only for a short amount of time. I do not agree with all their principles, but who does? It's a group of people that just want to help. It can't hurt for you to at least check it out again.

I think you should try it. Have you ever worked the steps?

As I am giving you this advice, I am also giving myself advice. For that, I thank you :)
Yep...take what you need and leave the rest in the rooms. There's a lot of NA dogma that rubs me the wrong way, but they have definitely been instrumental in my recovery. For me, the benefits really started to come through what I resolved not to let NA zealots derail the value of the group and the program (little 'p') for me.
 

mrsnowygrainius

Bluelighter
Joined
Oct 2, 2013
Messages
427
Location
jersey
NA/AA only works for a very very very very small amount of recovering addicts, basically those who are extroverted and thrive in social situations/ group settings. These people with this type of personality feed off of each other and are energized by all the interactions, recovering addicts who are extroverts have the tools to do well in NA/AA...

Meanwhile the introverts, those who can not preform in group settings are left even further disconnected. I remember when I tried going to meetings, I tried for years and could never find a connection to anyone in the room. No one made me feel welcome, I got maybe 3 phone numbers out of the multiple YEARS I've tried NA. I am an extremely introverted person- I am not going to walk into a meeting and poor my soul out to people i don't know, it just doesn't work that way. Group settings literally suck all energy out of me and leave me feeling drained- ask any introvert it is the same.

So not only is NA flawed in the sense that it only works for people with a certain personality type, but its abstinence philosophy, aka no maintenance programs, is an extremely poor method at keeping addicts clean for the long term. Maintenance drugs (meth and subs) have FAR HIGHER long term success rates than pure abstinence. Even if things were different and lets say I connected to NA, their ignorant philosophy would prevent me from sharing because I am on 12 mgs of suboxone, a medicine that i should add is saving my life.
 

Mmp85

Bluelighter
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
402
I have similar feelings about AA/NA.
I'm bipolar and take meds for it. A lot of meds. Mood stabilizers, antidepressants and a benzo. I've never abused my benzo prescription even when I was at my worst when it came to drinking. Medication keeps me stable which in turn keeps me sober. If I'm depressed I'll want to go to the bar to cheer up. If I'm manic I'll want to go to the bar to socialize. If I'm stable I realize I don't need to go to the bar for any reason. So I take my meds and see a psychiatrist and therapist regularly. AA was very adamant that I wasn't sober or clean if I was taking anything. I respect a lot of people who maintain sobriety through the programs and try to help others do the same but I'm simply not going off a well regimented medication routine overseen by a doctor I trust just because an old drunk who has no medical or psychiatric background thinks I can't live up to an arbitrary standard of "clean" because I'm treating a very real illness with what they consider "drugs". (As if I'm snorting my Prozac in a back alley)
I know the point of AA and NA is that they're peer run organizations but they aren't equipped to deal with psychiatric problems which often have a lot to do with addiction. So for me it was a waste of time to go and constantly be told I wasn't following the steps or that I was unwilling to truly get sober. It's not exactly encouraging to give up drinking for years and be treated like it doesn't even count.
 

simco

Bluelight Crew
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
2,257
Location
with the dead crow god
I have similar feelings about AA/NA.
I'm bipolar and take meds for it. A lot of meds. Mood stabilizers, antidepressants and a benzo. I've never abused my benzo prescription even when I was at my worst when it came to drinking. Medication keeps me stable which in turn keeps me sober. If I'm depressed I'll want to go to the bar to cheer up. If I'm manic I'll want to go to the bar to socialize. If I'm stable I realize I don't need to go to the bar for any reason. So I take my meds and see a psychiatrist and therapist regularly. AA was very adamant that I wasn't sober or clean if I was taking anything. I respect a lot of people who maintain sobriety through the programs and try to help others do the same but I'm simply not going off a well regimented medication routine overseen by a doctor I trust just because an old drunk who has no medical or psychiatric background thinks I can't live up to an arbitrary standard of "clean" because I'm treating a very real illness with what they consider "drugs". (As if I'm snorting my Prozac in a back alley)
I know the point of AA and NA is that they're peer run organizations but they aren't equipped to deal with psychiatric problems which often have a lot to do with addiction. So for me it was a waste of time to go and constantly be told I wasn't following the steps or that I was unwilling to truly get sober. It's not exactly encouraging to give up drinking for years and be treated like it doesn't even count.
Wow, I'm sorry to hear that you had that experience. That's awful.

FWIW, NA tends to be more broad-minded on this subject. Their information pamphlet, NA Groups & Medication talks about this exact issue. The upshot of the IP is that while it's up to each group to decide, psychiatric medication is an "outside issue" and as such isn't something NA has an opinion about.

This is important to me because I'm both an NA member and a long-time reliant on a variety of psych meds.
 

Mmp85

Bluelighter
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
402
AA has the same pamphlet and while it may be an official stance not to have an opinion on it, it's nearly impossible to put a bunch of people together and not hear opinions on it.
 

Jabberwocky

Frumious Bandersnatch
Joined
Nov 3, 1999
Messages
84,600
Location
Looking-Glass Land
With NA though it totally depends on the medication your taking. The official literature explicitly questions whether or not something like ORT should be considered medicine. That basically sums up a lot of the official stance of NA on medication. After all, as someone pointed out, 12 Step Fellowships are not clinic or professional treatment - they're not a community focused on treatment at all actually, but a community of people who take a particular approach to recovery.

In some more metropolitan areas (such as around the Bay Area and Los Angeles in CA and Boston in MA) there are vibrant recovery communities. Lots of traditional AA/NA/xA meetings, but also lots of alternatives support systems like Against the Stream, Smart Recovery and Refuge Recovery.

Honestly through, my recovery started taking off once I started doing things where I put the priority on doing what was authentic for me, what felt genuine and I could wholeheartedly get on board with (alas, with all the groupthink I'm far too deviant in my recovery for most NA/AA communities, as most of these groups shit on harm reduction like it's never going out of style, despite the fact abstinence is harm reduction and harm reduction is recovery....).

Recovery isn't just about drug use. It's sooooooo much more than using or not using - recovery is the whole of life. There are so many different approaches you can take to your own recovery. How you approach your recovery should be what you find works well for you, what you feel authentic and an approach you can authentically get behind.

Of course, herby is absolutely right that the best approach is perhaps to take the good and leave the bad, the implicit message (that I agree with) is that everyone has something to offer. However, I wasn't able to benefit from this approach until I had some solid recovery under my belt, some recovery I felt solid about. Without having that kind of foundation, without having identified some thing that work well for me I can rely on, it was difficult to get beyond all the stuff in traditional abstinence only meetings that I don't find helpful (which is pretty foundational stuff to most traditional abstinence only oriented support groups like NA).

What I ultimately needed was a non-judgemental community with professionals who helped facilitate my individual growth. This, despite all they do have going for them, does not describe 12 Step Fellowships.

But the funny thing is, most people seem to find recovery on their own terms, without any deep involvement in traditional recovery oriented communities like NA or AA. So if you haven't found that stuff particular helpful, blaze your own trail. Folks can use yoga just like than can use AA to provide a foundation for their recovery, it's just all about what works for you, whatever you can get behind 100% and put your efforts in recovery into.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Messages
4
I am in the same situation. I had 2 years of continuous "clean time" according to the NA standards of total abstinence however I realized there is no way I'm going to go completely clean (by NA standards) the rest of my life and join the hive mentality that all drugs are bad the disease of addiction is progressive and will kill you. LSD is not the same as meth or heroin. If your using a drug every day ant it's got complete control of your life you may want to look at that. I had to stop using cannabis because I realized my relationship to it was toxic. I have been able to use psychedelics responsibly in the correct set and setting with no issues. These experiences have enhanced my life rather than detracted from it. People have different relationships to different substances period.


Those meetings did help for a while but once I stated that I had used LSD a few times last year it was immediately frowned upon and my time was taken from me by the group so I left. I'm not going to sit there and let some NA guy tell my that I'm not "clean" because I use psychedelics a few times a year while he smokes his 14th cigarette of the day. It just doesn't make sense to me. It's a bit hipocritical for him to judge me when he is clearly still in addiction to cigarettes. I have right now over 3 years clean off hard drugs like meth and heroin right now and I'm proud of that. I don't feel like I need a program to help me live my life.
 
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