Recovering From Addiction

I am an addict. I've been so most of my life. From a young age up to the present day, there is a tendency in me to abuse my senses in every possible way. From sugar and food to drugs, alcohol and destructive emotions, I've struggled with addiction as long as I can remember.

I think most people are addicted to something, in one way or another, whether it be to the more obvious and destructive things that we associate with addiction; alcohol and drugs, sex, gambling, and violence, to the more subtle addictions like behavior patterns or over-eating.


My addictive tendency has come from a feeling of pain and emptiness. There has been, in my life, a need to fill up the emotional void inside of me where there should have been feelings of love, connectedness, and higher purpose. Yet, at least those of us who have gone through conventional education and shaping by popular culture, we are taught the very opposite principles. We are taught that we don't really matter, that this earth is in some far-flung corner of the universe and we are insignificant. We are taught that life arose by chance interactions between chemicals and gratification of our senses is the highest goal we can hope for.

As childhood became young adulthood I felt increasingly empty. I was finding fulfillment in external objects. Copious amounts of sugar as a child gradually turned into cigarettes, alcohol, sex and hard drugs. I was in a spiral of ever-increasing addictive habits, by which means I tried to find some satisfaction or mask the pain I felt. It worked, briefly. But the very nature of the addiction demon is to always want more, I was always searching for the next hit, regardless of consequences. I hurt people, stole, lied and destroyed because of my addictions and I did it without remorse, to fulfill my own selfish needs, not considering how it would affect the people around me.

Addiction is an illness. And it is not something that can be cured by one's own efforts, some external catalyst is often needed to trigger the healing. Perhaps there is no real cure for addiction. But there is education, coping techniques, and God-given grace. My first real transition to the road of recovery came in a peculiar way.
By some seeming chance encounter, I met a person on a city street in Scotland. That person placed in my mouth a great treasure, something that would change my relationship with addiction and therefore my life. That thing was a word. That word was Gouranga.
That same person also gave me books, CD's, incense as well as the strangest word I had ever heard. In that moment the vast and timeless knowledge of ancient India carried, worshipped, taught by sages and wise people for millennia, landed on the tongue of a drug-addict in a grubby, trash-filled, city street. It was beautiful. The first step on the long road to recovery was taken.


Today I'm fifteen years on from that first step, and 12 years clean from drugs. I'm still an addict but my addictions, although still harmful, are less destructive and have a lesser grip on me. Instead of self-destructive binges of drugs I see my addictive tendencies manifest in over-eating, procrastinating or drinking caffeine. The difference is that I am much more aware of my illness now. I can recognize its harmful pattern. What was given to me in a moment of compassion by a stranger was a key to unlock the knot in my heart and set me on the road to recovery from my madness.
Mantra, meditation, spiritual knowledge and heart to heart connections with spiritual people, all these things have helped me come to terms with addiction and bring me to the realization that life does have meaning. Spiritual activities helped me realize that we are loved on the most basic and fundamental level. Each and every one of us has been created for good reason, each and every one of us can have a personal relationship with that very thing which has created us. In surrendering to a higher power we can be protected from the noxious grip of our addictions and instead function from a place where we are better able to understand our self. We can stop living in fear and confusion and live more authentically, grounded in a place of gratefulness and understanding.

I know from practical and tangible experience that mantra, meditation, and spiritual life are the remedies and medicine for the madness that we as a species find ourselves afflicted with. As a young man I was a mess, yet somehow these activities have guided me back to sanity and happiness. It can take us away from the hole and take us back to the wholeness.
Practicing mantra and meditation has helped me to rediscover the beauty of life that seemed so apparent to me as a child., the beauty I had forgotten. The more one practices the more the grip of addiction loosens. I don't know if my addictive tendency will ever go away completely, I just hope and pray that if it doesn't then I can become addicted to the things that are beneficial to myself, to others and to the environment. 

If you are suffering from addiction, or know someone who is, don't suffer alone, get informed and get checked into a program. There are many 12-step and similar programs available.
Here are links to people and groups who have inspired or helped me in one way or another:

OIDA Therapy

Russel Brand


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