I had a long history of anger issues stemming from my childhood, and did not deal very well with being challenged. I now know that I suffer from the disease of addiction and that the solution is spiritual.
I was first introduced to Cocaine Anonymous approximately 10 years ago in Brighton. I had run away in order to enter the drug treatment centre, which I reasonably thought was the solution to my crack cocaine and heroin use. By this point it had become clear to me what my family and friends had known for years – my life was in a terrible state, and the drugs, or so I thought, were the cause of my problems.
I first came into the rooms of CA because a requirement of the treatment centre was that I had to attend at least two meetings a week. The last thing I wanted was to be kicked out of the place, so I went. But from my very first meeting I felt compelled to go back – because I wanted to, not because it was a requirement of the treatment centre. I felt inspired. I felt hope. I felt welcomed and I felt un-judged. It was amazing to meet people at my first meeting who had the same story as me. They shared honestly about where they had come from and where they clearly no longer were. In all honesty I missed the part in their story where they explained what they had done to get clean. My head was too scrambled for that. What I did see and hear was the madness of their using and the change they had made while in recovery – and that was amazing!
I lasted five months in the treatment centre before being asked to leave for what was deemed threatening behavior. I had a long history of anger issues stemming from my childhood, and did not deal very well with being challenged. I am very grateful to that treatment centre for the care, patience and insight they provided me with. But most of all I am grateful to them for introducing me to Cocaine Anonymous, for I had now discovered that I suffer from a disease, for which the solution is spiritual.
After being given my marching orders, I remained free from drugs and alcohol for another 13 month. I did this by asking somebody from CA to be my sponsor, and to take me through the 12-Step recovery plan as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The first question my sponsor asked me was “Are you prepared to go to any lengths for victory over alcohol and drugs?” I answered “Yes”, and I really meant it.
Through Step 1 I learned the “grave” nature of my illness. I have a physical allergy to cocaine, so once I have a single line it is completely beyond my, or anybody else’s human power, to stop me having 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and more ……where it ends I cannot predict or dictate, This is the phenomenon of craving, and I recognised I had this from my own experiences of trying to just have the one!! Even after long periods of being free from crack cocaine (usually because I’d been in prison) the same thought would always come back to me, “I’ll just have one” Despite countless experiences to the contrary, I was always baffled to discover that even though I really, really believed I would stop after one, the phenomenon of craving would come upon me and make the whole awful cycle would start once more. I’d be off again, taking the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and more …..not knowing how much I’d take or how long I’d be taking it for.
While I had learned that my main problem was in my mind, what I now see with hindsight is that I hadn’t fully understood the relevance of my spiritual condition (what CA call a “spiritual malady”). I didn’t see how, if left untreated, the spiritual malady would open the door to the thought that I could just have one, and I would buy-in to the lie again! Unaware of the role the spiritual malady played in my powerlessness over drugs, I continued working the steps of Cocaine Anonymous. After seeing how hopeless my life had become, I became willing to believe that a power greater than any human power could restore me to sanity (Step 2). I then went on to work through the steps up until the bit where I had to make amends to the people I had harmed during my using (Step 9). Here I froze!!
There was absolutely no doubting the fact that my life on the “outside” had become a million times better than it was when I was using. My girlfriend and daughter were back in my life. We had somewhere to live and were in the process of getting our first mortgage. I had a good social life, friends and a good job. All seemed well on the outside, but on the inside I didn’t feel so great in all honesty. I felt restless, irritable and discontented. I was still being selfish and dishonest. My dishonesty at work, in order to earn more money, reached extreme levels. Eventually our mortgage came through and we moved into our new home in London.
I now decided I did not need to make the Step 9 amends for my past wrongs. I thought that, because I had a house, job, family, and that I wasn’t taking crack, I was obviously OK and that I didn’t need a sponsor; the twelve step meetings; Cocaine Anonymous or God anymore.
Within a month I was back in the crack house. Shortly afterwards my girlfriend asked me to leave our home. I lost my job, and was wanted by the police. Soon after that I was back in prison again.
That was 10-years ago, and a lot of tragedy has occurred since. I came back into the rooms of Cocaine Anonymous a few months ago and my life has, once again, changed dramatically. I’m almost two months clean & sober. I have a new sponsor and am going through the 12-Steps again. I have learned the fundamental importance of keeping in fit spiritual condition in order to treat my spiritual malady. I am going to make my Step 9 amends this time, which I now see are an essential part of my spiritual growth. It says in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Once we get a grip on the spiritual side the other aspects of our disease straighten out”. How do I treat the spiritual side of my disease? Simply by working the 12-Steps in all areas of my life, to the best of my ability.
I know today that cocaine is not my problem. My problem centres in my mind and unless I keep working the 12-Steps, my mind will always take me back to crack cocaine. Underlying my whole recovery is a spiritual power greater than any human power. And it is to that power, and to the fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous, that I give thanks.