How to Break Free from Addiction for Good — a Surprising Discovery by Bill Wilson

How to break free from addiction for good?

Brain full of addictions
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Whether it’s alcohol or social media, if you have battled with addiction for any number of years, you know that it’s not enough to just stop. Stopping is relatively easy. The hard part is not to start again.

Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA, saw thousands of people quit drinking after “working the 12-step program.” But he noticed over time that many of them eventually replaced their old addiction with a new one.


Why do we keep relapsing?

“How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, “For God’s sake, how did I ever get started again?’”

AA’s Big Book, page 24.

Why do we keep relapsing? According to Bill Wilson, an addict will remain an addict as long as they believe in their power.

We go back to our self-destructive behavior because we believe that through it we can control things.

For example, I fall into passive aggression and start pouting every time I feel offended because I believe that this will induce the other person to meet my needs.

The reason I fall into workaholism again and again is because I believe that through overperforming I can control how much I get in life.

The reason I reach out for this next piece of chocolate against my better judgment is because I believe I can control my mood from outside in.

I believe in my own power. I am God.


The gates of hell “closed on him with a clang”

The AA Big Book tells of an American businessman who, after trying to give up drinking for years, went to Europe to get consultations from a famous psychiatrist Dr. Jung.

He finished his treatment with unusual confidence. His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time.

(AA’s Big Book, page 26)

Going back to his doctor, he asked why he couldn’t recover. He begged him to tell the whole truth and he got it. In the doctor’s judgment, he WAS UTTERLY HOPELESS.

Dr. Jung advised that he should “place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long.”

The doctor said: “You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.’’ Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.

(AA’s Big Book, page 27).

The end is the beginning

This man is free now; he is alive and well. He doesn’t need to lock himself or have a bodyguard. He can go anywhere he wants to as long as he is willing to maintain one simple attitude. “I am powerless.”

When he heard that he was hopeless he had a profound spiritual transformation which, according to the founders of AA, is THE ONLY SOLUTION.


What happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

A long time ago, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Adam and Eve: “Take it and eat it. You will be like gods.”

At that moment, we became control freaks. The reason I am reaching out and taking this fruit again and again is because I believe that this time it will give me what I want. It never does. But I still believe that it will.

What will break this cycle of insanity?

The clang of the gates of hell. This is the “metanoia” I am looking for. Sooner or later, lightning strikes me on the Damascus road, and I wake up, saying: “I can’t do it anymore.” This is a new beginning. The resurrection.

This is what a lot of people in the 12-step programs lack — the conviction that I am not God. That I need to let go and trust.

Centuries later, a humble man told his followers in the upper room: “Take it and eat it so you won’t be Gods anymore.” And then he went to the Garden and relinquished all power.


The only way out of addiction that works

How to break free from addiction for good? The only way to break any addiction is to relinquish power. As long as I believe that I am in control, it’s a hopeless business.

There is a solution…We saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it… We have found much of heaven, and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.

AA’s Big Book, page 25.

What is this “fourth dimension” mentioned in AA Big Book?

The fourth dimension is a state of mind in which I believe that there is a Power greater than myself. For a control freak to accept that there’s a Power greater than me is like jumping out of the plane without a parachute.

I don’t actually need to obsess about my statistics and how well my articles perform. I am not God. I can just focus on enjoying the writing process. I can die to my desire to be successful. I can jump off this plane and fall into the “fourth dimension.”

I can actually skip this piece of chocolate even though it feels like a little death. I don’t need to fill myself up from outside in. There is a Power greater than me that will fill me up.

I don’t need to stonewall this person, hoping they will second-guess my thoughts and meet my needs. I can’t control other people. I have no power here. There is a greater Power at work. I can let go and trust.


When you slip, go back to the beginning

It would be a lie for me to say that I am completely free of my addictions. I still relapse to the “I am God” belief almost every day. And it’s ok. I forgive myself. It’s not about perfection but about going back to the beginning again and again.

What is the beginning? The clang of the gates of hell. The “I can’t do it anymore.” I am powerless. This is the only way because it’s the end of me.

The gates into the fourth dimension open every time I hear the clang of the gates of hell. If I listen and take the leap of faith, I am rocketed into the life that I never dreamed of.

How to Be Enough with Who I Am?

Insight from an egret.

Eugene Terekhin Feb 23 · 2 min read

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screen capture by author

How to be enough with who I am? Here’s the secret of an egret.

I was walking along the creek, feeling empty. I didn’t even know why. There was this unsettling feeling that something was amiss.

I know this feeling so well. It haunts me. It always tells me the same thing over and over: the moment you are in is not good enough. You need to skip it and go to some blessed future.

Engrossed in my thoughts, I saw an egret in the shallow waters, standing on one leg. It pointed its beak down, waiting patiently for its breakfast, looking perfectly content.

It was sure it would get its fish. Life was good.

It looked up and saw me. So serene and unperturbed it was in its immovable stance that I couldn’t help but stop.

“Are you in a hurry?” the bird asked me silently, like a white marble statue.

“Yes, I need to get so much done,” replied my weary soul.

“Why?”

“Because I need more.”

“You already have it all,” said the egret, deftly shooting its beak into the water and pulling out a small fish.

“If you use this moment only to get to the next one, you will never enjoy what you already have.”

“What’s there to enjoy?” I mumbled.

Without a reply, the egret spread its huge wings slowly and gracefully over the murky waters and took to the sky. Swooping over my head, it almost allowed me to pat its curved neck.

I stood in awe, speechless. For a moment, my cluttered mind cleared, and the wind brought a distant echo:

“Enjoy being who you are.”

The wind bloweth where it will, and you will hear its voice every once in a while, saying: “Who are you?”

“Are you enjoying being yourself? Or are you using this moment as a means to an end?”

I teared up.

My winged prophet was disappearing in the clouds, carrying a small fish in its beak.

“I also have a few small fish,” thought I, and my heart soared on the wings of a sudden insight.

“I have enough. I can feed the world with who I am.”

A quiet pond
Photo by author

Hooked: A Story About Fishing in the Swimming Pool

The swimming pool was teeming with people. Bright luminescent bikinis, squealing children, laughing dads, chattering moms, all jumbled up together in a thick soup of incessant movement, stirring, whirling, mixing, blending.

On one side of the pool, there was a man sitting by the edge of the water with a long pole, fishing. His face was hidden in a thick beard. He seemed totally detached from what was going on around, watching intently the red bobber on the undulating surface of the pool. A guard hastily jumped down from his tower and ran towards the man.

“Sir,” he said with an air of utter amazement, “what are you doing? This is a swimming pool!”

The man didn’t budge.

“So what?”

“This is not allowed!” “This is…,” he stumbled, “you’ve got hooks out there, people can get hurt!”

“Yeah,” chuckled the man, “what did you think? Good things come to those who bait. Just look at this beautiful bait.” Continue reading “Hooked: A Story About Fishing in the Swimming Pool”

Loneliness – Social Media Exploits Your Need of Validation

According to G.K. Chesterton, truth is often paradoxical. It’s hard to believe that the problem of loneliness is actually rooted in too much interaction.

But this is what Sean Parker’s uncanny insight seems to suggest. Sean Parker is the founding president of Facebook. He explained in an interview why it’s so hard to resist the impulse to constantly check your social media – even while you are driving.

He shared how social media gradually hook you up.

“When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be.’” Now that this prediction is more than fulfilled, the question is even more intriguing.

Social Media AddictionSocial Media Addiction Engineering

How did they do it?

Sean explains that the founders used basic human psychology – our need for approval. Social media are nothing but a social-validation feedback loop.

It works like this – the moment you contribute some content and people like it, share it or comment on it, you get a little dopamine hit. This makes you want to contribute more content, which, in turn, gives you another hit.

You want more likes and comments. We all like to be liked (who knew?) – and social media provides that.

This fact is not easy to swallow – social media work because we are seeking validation. When we feel lonely, cut off, isolated, we want to get rid of this feeling at all costs. But does “interaction” on social media actually help us solve the problem of loneliness?

Far from it. Of course, we will temporarily feel “high.” Like a shot of whisky, it will medicate the distressing feeling of loneliness for a while. But when its tranquilizing effects wear off, we will feel even emptier than before, craving for more validation.

More likes, more comments, more shares. Our inner void will be growing and gradually become a gaping hole, an insatiable inner monster that gets hungrier with every attempt to feed it. Continue reading “Loneliness – Social Media Exploits Your Need of Validation”