No Magic Bullet

By Ken Wells - 02/11/2020


“There’s no magic bullet; there’s no pill that you take that makes everything great and makes you happy all the time. I’m letting go of those expectations, and that’s opening me up to moments of transcendent bliss. But I still feel the stress over ‘Am I thin enough? Am I too thin? Is my body the right shape?” – Anne Hathaway

Isn’t life a bitch, sometimes? Even when you experience breakthrough insights of wisdom that calm your frenetic, racing mind, like a boomerang that circles back and smacks you in the back of the head—fear and obsessive thought return with the least provocation.

Healing from addiction, is a war of inner turmoil. Like a super speed disclaimer at the end of a radio ad, the inner chatter box in my head blitzes me with a dump of ragging thoughts of misbelief that can literally drive me insane. The only difference between my chatter box and the hyper speed radio disclaimer, is that I hear very clearly what my chatterbox is telling me and it ain’t peaceful! It’s full of distress and discomfort.

Addicts will do anything to escape from physical pain, emotional discomfort and personal struggle. We tell ourselves that life would be better if we could just find an instant fix. But, there is no lightning in a bottle. Billions of dollars are spent every year on painkillers in an attempt to break free from physical and emotional pain derived from mental stress and malady. ‘If I could just find the right drug—the right quick fix therapy to numb the pain, even if its temporary— I’ll do it.’

But when I realize there is no magic cure— the desire for therapy wanes and my monkey brain takes over in search for addictive escape. Even though it is temporary and fleeting, it always delivers what it promises. There is a momentary escape—even though it might be deadly.

It is common for addicts to look for the sensational fix- the spectacular! An alternative to a magic bullet is when we embrace life’s struggles, lean into painful experiences big and small, and become open to the significance of uninspired moments— the hours of our everyday existence that are ordinary and simple.

Transformation and healing occur not in the spectacular moment under a spotlight of attention but rather in nondescript places where no one is watching or paying attention. I often hear stories of recovery that are fought and won in the private portals of one’s mind and heart. It’s a place that no one but you can possibly appreciate because no one is there but you. This counterintuitive approach paradoxically creates fulfillment in life and clarifies meaning and purpose in the presence of pain and discomfort in ways that are missed by those in search of a magic bullet.

Recovery from addiction is carved out in common routine everyday experience. These places are so prevalent to the human condition. Recovery from addiction demands that we “dare to be average”— that we dare to embrace the struggle and discomfort of commonplace experience and learn to calm the super speed voice of addictive urge.

Article by Ken Wells, MDiv, MA, LPC, CSAT, LSAC

You can read more insights about the importance of embracing every day experience in recovery from Ken’s newly released book Dare to Be Average- Finding Brilliance in the Commonplace– published by Daily House Publishing and currently on sale through

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