When Addiction Calls Your Name

By Ken Wells - 01/15/2022


Series Two: Blog Ninety-Seven

“With carnage of heart and wreckage all about—the junkie worm, with con and cajole, tells me ‘there’s magic just one more time’. . .” Poem—My Experience with the Junkie Worm. –KW

Religious people describe a prayerful relationship with God as personal. Isaiah the prophet cited that God called Jacob by name. (Isaiah 43:1). Addicts in recovery know that their addiction has called them by name as well. Though not literal, the craving and longing for one more hit is real and plausible.

“My roots were born and have grown in the soil of struggle—My DNA betrayed by craving and bingeing—my steady constant slime—Not getting enough of what I really don’t want has been my changeless storyline” My Experience with the Junkie Worm – KW

When addiction calls you by name, how do you respond? You want to say No but you are vulnerable to say Yes when you are weak and depleted of energy. The call of addiction has a powerful grip on your life when you are exhausted. It is like an old friend who has loved and cared and has always delivered what it has promised.

Your response will depend upon the patterns and habits you have incorporated in your recovery life.  Addicts who chronically relapse do not integrate training and recovery conditioning as a lifestyle. They want to rely on relapse prevention instruction only when they are under the siege of craving. Sometimes this works but most times it does not.

This is what works in recovery when your addiction calls you by name.

Accept responsibility for where you are and what you are doing. Addicts make excuses when things go bad and they are tempted to use. Yet, you are responsible for every situation you are in. Addicts have experienced caregivers who abuse them and avoid consequences. They have encountered role models who abdicated responsibility to care for them when they were young and impressionable. These caregivers were never held accountable for their neglect and lack of responsibility. So they learn throughout their life to blame someone else or circumstances that trigger them to use. However, when addiction calls your name, you will be helpless to resist if you do not accept total responsibility for the situation that has triggered craving. Blame never fixes anything and is disastrous. Accepting responsibility to address whatever has triggered you will foster sobriety.

Recognize that you are not in control. In recovery, addicts subtly slip into a mindset that they can manage build up behaviors, triggers, and high-risk situations without clear accountability to others in their recovery program. When this happens, they become vague in their report to their support people about life challenge. They forget that they cannot control their addiction on their own. Recognizing that you are not in control requires that you have ongoing dialogue with your addictive urge. Listen for the legitimate unmet need that must be met in a healthy way. In your dialogue, don’t be dismissive of the urge or shame yourself for being tempted to act out. Make the urge your friend. If you listen responsibly, your urge will tell you what need must be met. Your intellect and connection to recovery community as a resource will tell you how to meet that need in a legitimate way. This is the way you transform your curse (craving) into a blessing (healthy intimacy).

When you relapse in your addiction, do a relapse inventory or autopsy about what happened. What did you not hear or want to hear when addiction called your name? This question will help you understand why you relapsed. What was present but unsuccessfully addressed regarding work situation and family issues? What needed to be addressed in your partner relationship but you procrastinated? These questions will clarify why and what happened in your relapse. Pay attention to the dynamics and attitude that triggered relapse and endeavor to change these dynamics with openness and accountability to peers in your support groups.

Throw yourself into recovery with all your heart and soul. This is simple but not easy. Addicts who throw their whole heart and soul into recovery always have positive outcomes. When you don’t you have checkered results. You take 2 steps forward and 3 steps backward. You begin to build your life around recovery rather than the other way around. When you adopt this approach you will experience instant life-changing results.

Accept the willingness to change — EVERYTHING! A willingness to change is absolutely imperative when your drug of choice calls you by name. You will need to change where you hang out. You will need to change who you hang out with. You will need to eliminate unstructured times with no accountability. We all need to chill sometimes. But, as an addict, you cannot allow yourself to chill without accountability. It will prove disastrous. The way you go about relationships at work and at home must experience radical change. If not, when addiction calls you by name, you will embrace an old friend.

You must grieve your losses. Addicts experience numerous losses when they go into recovery. When addicts stop medicating the pain of past losses with their drug of choice, they will encounter immense pain that had been numbed by addiction. Grieving is a slow process that essentially is life-long. I am not suggesting that an addict must always wallow in grief. But I am saying maturity requires that we face and embrace our losses. Everyone must learn to grieve. Addicts are no exception.

Slowing down and integrating these steps in recovery can help you pivot, position, and create the necessary poise to respond when addiction calls your name.

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