Julie Miller's Mental Health Blog

Chemical Dependence #3

Posted on: March 2, 2010

I sat with a small group of women today who are working very hard to get and stay sober, having had a long history of drinking, with significant underlying trauma.  They were so open, so motivated, so willing.  It was a joy to watch them as they learned about how trauma has impacted on their lives and fueled their chemical dependence.  There were tears, questions, and “aha!” moments.

I jokingly say, “I love addicts; they’re just the most interesting people.”  Usually that gets a laugh.  There’s also a lot of truth for me in this statement.  At heart, I believe that the vast majority of chemical dependents are wounded, tender people.

I have heard others say (including some in 12-step meetings) that addicts are very spiritual people.  “I’m a spiritual being having a human experience.”  Part of me gets it, and part of me doesn’t.

Dr. Jung told one of the founders of AA that there was no hope for him to recover from alcoholism, except for one possibility:  a spiritual experience.  AA, of course, focuses on a program of spiritual recovery, using the word “God” in several of the 12 steps.  Many individuals get hung up on the word “God.”  Many individuals have childhood trauma from families forcing God down their throats, disallowing individual spiritual expression, etc.  These individuals will of course say “no thanks” to God or anything that is a reminder, subtle or overt, of any form of religion.

Fortunately, spirituality is an individual matter.  Some folks don’t agree, believing that there is “one way” or “one truth.”  One way, however, doesn’t work for everyone.

I’ve worked with individuals who use anything from their 12-step group as a higher power to “The Force” of Star Wars lore.

In recovery from chemical dependence, anything that will increase one’s ability to cope with life, on life’s terms, is beneficial.  Anything that allows one to find peace or acceptance when life happens  is beneficial.

Is it a “crutch”?  Maybe, but so what? If you’re leg is broken, why would you not use a crutch for support?

Anything that can help someone cope with life, without using alcohol or drugs, is beneficial for that individual.

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