Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Am I an Addict?

Am I an Addict?

Dov, who is clean in SA for 25 years, quoted Rabbi Twerski z"l who once said that if a person is not truly an addict, it is highly unlikely they will ever work the 12 Step program honestly. So someone asked Dov: "How does one know if one is truly an addict?"

Dov Responds:

It seems to me so far after these years speaking with many hundreds of guard your eyes guys and many hundreds of people on the outside, as well, that there are a few ingredients necessary. First, the person has to care one way or the other. They need to be open to taking a different course of action, if it should turn out they are addicts (sick people). Second, if being a sick person is embarrassing or they think it 'negatively affects their self-esteem', then they're still too self-absorbed and just not ready to really consider that option. Third, they need to be ready to do the best - not the second best - interventions to help themselves, whichever way they decide the truth lies.

Then what helps a great deal is to write down their entire sexual acting out history, preferably on paper and not by keyboard, beginning with their first memories of anything sexually troubling or interesting to them and continuing to describe every way they have sexually acted out along the way, till today. Emotions and motivations are best left out, at this point. But it is a good thing for us to describe all the things we tried along the way, in order to finally stop (and obviously they didn't work...which is why we are here). Particularly important to include are any times we got caught and how we hid the truth, and making note of which behaviors were the most frequent and which the least frequent.

The next step that I find helps most people make it through this maze correctly (whatever the truth about them is), is to meet with another person (in recovery) and read out the entire exposition. It's essential that when they wrote it, they had no audience in mind. When we write for an audience, things start to flow in a more pretty manner. We get very tempted to try to explain why we were doing things - and as I hinted before, that's just a distraction at this point.

The best way to do it is face to face with another understanding person. Sometimes, a Rav or therapist may do. But I find that in most cases, the best people for this job are a group. A group of understanding people who have suffered from the same thing, themselves...and preferably are clean for some years, now.

This is what we've been doing on the "Desperados call" for the past 10-11 years, btw. That's been my laboratory for this. I didn't come up with this on my own but have been using the 12 Steps model I experience in the meetings I've been going to. A lot of experimenting along the way and tweaking has helped a great deal.

People who go through this process discover pretty well what the truth is, either way. It may not be right away when they hear their own story coming out of their mouths, but sometimes it is. But often it's the result of hearing seven or eight other guy's stories shared as honestly and explicitly as their own was. By the time a group has all shared their stuff together, the silly parts of the comparisons we make to other people ("he did xy&z but I only did ab&c", etc.) begin to fall by the wayside as the true context, cost, and pain of our behaviors and what we have become, come into more honest focus. It helps us stop magnifying the evil of what we did at the same time as it helps us take responsibility for the true damage our choices might have caused.

After that, the truth about ourselves becomes more acceptable and we begin to see it more honestly. In my experience, those are the ingredients to being able to assess the truth about ourselves accurately.

The great tragedy is that people consider the great issue to be tayvoh, while the truth (even to Hashem) was very different in the case of addiction. With such a distorted view of things, it's no wonder that the addicts keep trying and failing, saying that, "I've tried everything!"