There are plenty of fine recovery books written by people after they have been sober for a few years. These texts can be full of useful advice that will benefit those who are struggling with addiction, but I doubt that many people have become sober just by reading a book (this is not something that worked for me anyway). I’ve come to the realization that a more effective path out of addiction may be for the person to write their own recovery book. This will be ideally suited for their needs, and they will be able to use it to help them build the type of life where they will no longer feel any need to use alcohol or drugs.
How I Wrote My Way Out of Addiction
I never intentionally used writing to help me overcome my alcohol addiction. Writing is just something that has always been a part of my life, and I got into the habit of putting my thoughts down on paper from a young age. When drunk, I’d write these long rambling letters to myself where I’d list my disappointments and mistakes – thankfully I didn’t have a blog in those days, so my words of woe were only ever read by me. I’d also write down goals and thoughts about how I’d achieve these goals, and this became an important part of my recovery. This writing was just something that I did, and I never paid it much attention. When I eventually became sober, I created a blog and this allowed me to write about my past and create a path for my future. There was never any structure to this writing, and it is only now that I can appreciate how much it helped me.
Over the last few months I’ve been putting together my guidebook for living. This is a personal project where I am writing down my core beliefs as well as my approach to the challenges in life. This book will be constantly updated, and it contains all my best ideas. I intend for it to be a resource that I’ll keep near me at all times. I’ve noticed that my best thinking occurs when things are going well, but once the shit hits the fan my ability to think straight will usually desert me. By creating this guidebook for living I am able to approach life with a new clarity and purpose. It has turned out to be one of my most (possibly the most) productive projects I’ve ever taken on, and this got me thinking about how beneficial it would have been if I’d done this work while trying to stop drinking. It then dawned on me that I had been doing this type of writing, but it had just been haphazard and inconsistent.
Gain Clarity and Purpose in the Midst of Addiction
For many years I was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and during that time I must have read the Big Book hundreds of times. I would also hear passages of this text read at almost every meeting. I still can recite portions of that text by heart. I no longer subscribe to the 12 Step approach or go to these meetings, but the repetitive reading of that text did manage to hammer some good ideas into my brain. I’ve found that this is something that can be done with any text. My guidebook for living will allow me to “brainwash myself”, so that my best thinking becomes my automatic response to life; for example, I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, but my work with this guidebook has allowed me to develop a new relationship with this emotion.
The reason I struggled with ending my addiction for so many years was that my own thinking would betray me. As soon as the withdrawals began my mind would become all fuzzy, and this meant that I was easy prey for the cravings. One thing that helped me deal with this was to write down the reasons for why I wanted to quit before I entered withdrawals. I would then keep reading this letter to help me make it through this period. The only real mistake that I made with this approach is that I’d usually write down the reasons for why I “should” quit – this is far less effective than writing down the reasons for why I “want to” quit. This letter gave me clarity at a time when I really needed it, and it would have made the perfect introductory chapter to my personal recovery book.
Write Your Own Path Out of Addiction
Just writing this recovery book is unlikely to be enough to end addiction – you need to write it and use it like your bible. It is vital that anything that you put into your book is clear and precise – any vagueness will just confuse things and get in the way. Spelling and grammar is not going to be important. All that really matters is that you can understand what is written and that you are able to put it to use. It might be easier to use a computer for this manuscript because you are going to be constantly updating it. I would also suggest that you write things down in a small notebook as well, so that you can have your guidebook with you at all times.
You want your recovery book to contain your personal path out of addiction. You only include those things that will benefit this journey, and you need to be constantly eliminating the deadwood. It is like going on a long hiking trek and you want to keep your backpack light – the more stuff you bring with you, the more you will need to carry. You must avoid putting anything to this book that is unnecessary because it will just get in the way– you need to be ruthless and remove every single word that is not required.
It can be helpful to read other recovery books for advice and tips but only add those things to your book that will work for you – if they turn out not to work you remove them immediately. You also need to avoid adding something to your book just because it sounds like a good idea. I also suggest that you completely avoid using the word “should” anywhere in this text – you only want things in there that you are going to do.
This recovery book is just the start of your journey. Once you have settled into a life free of alcohol and drugs, you can then begin your guidebook for living the rest of your life. This will contain most of the valuable knowledge you picked up while putting together your recovery book.