The recent death of Amy Winehouse is another reminder of the destructiveness of addiction. I never met her, but I’ve known lots of people who ended up where she did. It always reminds me of how lucky I am – if luck is the right word. It begs the obvious question, why do only some people get to escape their addiction? Is it just the throw of the dice, or is there something else going on here?
Most addicts die from ambivalence – that’s what I think. For years I battled with two competing urges in my mind; the compulsion to keep on drinking and a desperate urge to stop. These two incompatible ideas managed to live uncomfortable in my head for two decades. For most of that time it was the urge to drink that demanded most of my attention; it was the other urge that saved me though.
The explanation for my escape from addiction isn’t hard to understand. The urge to live became so strong that it overpowered the compulsion to self-destruct. I really do think it is that simple – I say ‘think’ here because it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve deluding myself.
The real question then is why did my desire to live become strong enough to overpower my addiction? I put this down to seeds that were planted in my childhood. There were times during my formative years when my mind felt at peace; particularly during a period when I was practicing martial arts. This wasn’t enough to stop me falling into addiction, but the memory remained powerful. I knew for a fact that there could be a satisfactory life without the booze – this made all the difference.
It was this desire to recapture a healthy state of mind that fed my desire for recovery. I failed at one treatment option after another, but I never gave up completely. Two years before I finally became sober I spent a month meditating in a Thai temple. I experienced the most intense feelings of mental well-being in my life at that time. I returned to alcohol but this experience, along with the seeds planted years before, turned out to be enough to bring me to a final solution. This meant that I had the motivation to get the most from Thamkrabok – the Buddhist temple where I finally quit.
Why Some People Never Escape Addiction
Some addicts just don’t seem ever manage to develop a strong enough urge to quit. Maybe they have just never had those experiences that show what is possible with a clear mind; hearing about it is not enough, you need to experience it. The internal urge to self-destruct just never meets its match – it eventually gets its way.