Despite what many believe, life after addiction doesn’t have to follow a specific script. Here are some myth-busters to show you specifically what I’m talking about.
You don’t need to define your life post-addiction as being in “recovery”.
You don’t need to attend meetings.
You don’t need to get a sponsor.
You don’t need to do step-work.
You don’t need to memorize your sobriety date.
You don’t need to believe that you’re “powerless over your addiction”.
You don’t need to call yourself a “recovering addict” or a “recovering alcoholic”.
You might even be able to use potentially addictive substances medicinally and/or responsibly, instead of swearing off the use of all mind-altering drugs forever (along with alcohol).
Dogmatic Beliefs & Groupthink
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other offshoots of this are not the only way to overcome drug and/or alcohol addiction, despite what you may have heard from the AA Police and other dogma-pushers.
A dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
The teachings in the Big Book have helped countless individuals over the years, which is quite extraordinary and notable.
However, suggestible members of 12-step programs often develop ego-investment in these teachings and thus become what I called ‘programmed’, meaning they no longer have the ability to think for themselves in the domain of addiction recovery, even though they may think for themselves quite well in other areas (such as politics, relationships, or religion).
And many of these programmed members then make the mistake of shaming others who want to end an addiction without using the dogma that they’ve developed ego-investment in.
Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.
Groupthink permeates our society, and it’s especially prevalent in AA and NA meetings.
The group thinkers, dogma pushers, Big Book thumpers and the like believe that going to 12-step meetings is the only way for a person to recover from addiction and that the people who don’t work the program will end up in jails, institutions, and six feet under.
They didn’t come up with this dogma on their own.
Instead, they learned these ideas from a book that was published almost 80 years ago (in 1939) and co-authored by a 1930s doctor and a drunk.
Fortunately, using deductive reasoning (aka deductive logic) we can dispel the myth of what I call ‘The One-Path Recovery Doctrine’.
Deductive reasoning is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logically certain conclusion.
Here’s an example:
- All men are mortal (First premise)
- Socrates is a man (Second premise)
- Therefore, Socrates is mortal (Conclusion)
Using deductive reasoning, it’s quite simple to come to a logically certain conclusion that quickly dispells the myth of one-path recovery (eg “the only way to recover from drug or alcohol addiction is by working a strong 12-step program”).
Here’s how I’ve dispelled the myth:
- People were addicted to drugs and alcohol for thousands of years before the creation of AA and the Big Book
- Some of these people ended their addictions and lived healthy and fulfilling lives afterward.
- Therefore, people can recover from an addiction without working a 12-step program
In addition to using this deductive reasoning, I’ve also personally recovered from addiction and haven’t gone to a meeting in 8 years.
Chris Scott, my business partner for Elevation Recovery, transcended his alcohol addiction around 5 years ago and hasn’t gone to a meeting since then either.
I’ve also worked with hundreds of clients and received thousands of emails and blog/YouTube comments over the years, and have corresponded with hundreds of people that stated they quit their addictions and turned their lives around without going to 12-step programs.
Emotional Reasoning & Ego-Protection
Emotional reasoning is a cognitive process by which a person concludes that his/her emotional reaction proves something is true, regardless of the observed evidence.
Thus, even when I state the evidence above, if a person has fully adopted the Big Book teachings (and especially if AA or NA has helped them improve their life) deductive reasoning has no effect on them.
I try to have compassion for people that are close-minded and emotional reasoners because I realize how powerful a force ego-investment is.
Their ego is the one to blame for their obtuseness… not their True Self.
Since a strong function of the ego is self-protection, most of these people have unconscious defense mechanisms that prevent them from seeing how my deductive reasoning on this topic is valid.
The One-Path Recovery Dogma is simply that… a dogma.
It’s not a scientifically proven fact.
And further still, most experts estimate that AA success rates are anywhere from 3% to 10%.
Which means that AA almost certainly has a failure rate of 90% or more.
Living an Extraordinary Life Post-Addiction
The One-Path Recovery Myth has been factually dispelled by many of my predecessors.
And I and many others have unplugged ourselves from the One-Path Recovery Matrix that is embedded in traditional treatment programs, 12-step programs, and to a degree… our communities and society in general.
Here are 4 things I know to be true:
- I’ve personally recovered from addiction and created an amazing life without going to meetings.
- I personally know dozens of people that have done this too and have corresponded with hundreds more as well.
- People recovered from alcoholism and drug addiction for thousands of years before AA, and continue to do so today.
- Living an extraordinary life post-addiction without going to meetings is totally possible, and I and many others have done so and continue to do so.
To illustrate the last statement on this list, I’m going to show you four pictures (with addiction recovery strategies) from the past three days when my business partner and friend, Chris Scott, visited me in San Diego.
1. Having a Mission & Purpose
Chris and I recovered from addiction and have educated millions of people with our addiction recovery companies. We have a strong mission and purpose, and this guides our lives as we’re passionate about helping others overcome the same challenge with a substance addiction that we had. This gives our lives meaning, and since we make a living doing what we love, this adds to our overall satisfaction with life and work.
2. Brain-Body Optimization
Research has shown the many positive brain and body benefits of exercise, spending time in nature, laughter, and many other natural therapies. Living an extraordinary life post-addiction starts with healing the addicted brain and optimizing brain-body health and wellness. I used to have generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and depression, which was my main reason for using drugs. Chris used to drink heavily not to self-medicate mental disorders as I did, but due to his strong biochemical cravings for alcohol. Nowadays we feel great most of the time, as we constantly optimize our brain-body health.
3. Moving Towards a Bigger Better Future
Having a vision of what we want our personal and professional lives to look like several years from now helps Chris and I stay the course on the roadmap we’ve developed and helps us overcome struggles and challenges when they arise. The compelling visions we have for bigger better futures provide consistent motivation, and we love living life outside of our comfort zones and making progress. We know the best part is the journey and not the destination because once we achieve our visions, we’ll just create another bigger better future to aim towards.
Creating Your Own Extraordinary Life Post-Addiction
Now that I’ve presented evidence that it’s totally possible to create an extraordinary life post-addiction without going to meetings, I’d like to share some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Here’s some wisdom Chris and I have learned that we want to instill in you:
It won’t be easy.
There will be many challenges along the way.
It will be uncomfortable.
It will probably take a long time.
You might fail many times along the way.
Some people might judge you, envy you, or even resent you (the haters).
You might give up.
You’ll need to develop empowering habits and break disempowering habits.
You’ll almost certainly crash and burn without developing a daily and weekly routine.
If you don’t exercise regularly and eat at least a somewhat healthy diet, it’ll be a much harder journey.
Developing your character, mindset, philosophy, stress resilience, and skills will pay off well in the long-run.
Your progress will sometimes come to a halt or even backtrack, but constant awareness of this can get you moving in the right direction again.
And most importantly…
IT IS WORTH THE STRUGGLE.
If you love AA or NA and have ended your addiction and transformed your life because of the program, then obviously this article was not written for you.
You’ve already found the path that works for you, and this article was not intended to get you to quit doing what’s working.
This article was written for individuals that have been told they can’t have an extraordinary life without going to meetings and working a strong program, but who, intuitively (and perhaps even logically), aren’t really convinced this is a truthful statement.
This article was created for people that have tried AA and/or NA over and over again, keep failing, and don’t feel like it’s necessarily their inability to work the program right, but rather, the simple notion that it’s probably not the most effective path of quitting an addiction for them, personally.
This article was written with the intention of educating people on the ideas of dogmatic beliefs, emotional reasoning, ideological possession, ego-investment, and groupthink being the main reasons why so many people believe in the One-Path Recovery Myth and the various ironclad rules that go along with it, which perpetuate due to the vast number of AA Police, dogma-pushers, and group thinkers indoctrinating the One-Path Recovery Dogma into their sponsees, other members of the program, and more — who then do the same — thus continually perpetuating the conscious and subconscious reprogramming of the teachings of the Big Book.
In short, nearly eight centuries of Big Book indoctrination and ideological possession has led to this dogma being completely embedded in the domain of recovery, and this makes it a difficult task to unplug people from the One-Path Recovery Matrix.
It’s a scary process for some, but it’s completely liberating for others.
Life after addiction can be whatever you make of it.
If you feel strongly that AA isn’t right for you, well now you’ve seen evidence that at least two people (Chris and I) are living extraordinary lives post-addiction… without going to meetings.
Great article and great points at the end. I have been struggling with finding sobriety for 8 years. I only knew the program and since I was unable to stay sober it just reinforced my already poor self-esteem that there was something inherently wrong with me. In the last 8 years I have lost both of my dear parents and my only 2 grand parents. Losing my entire family before turning 40 years old certainly did not make me want to believe in an “all loving God.” I felt God must hate me since nothing good was happening for me, even when I was staying sober. For the last 2 years I have ditched the meetings and worked hard on rebuilding my life. My reason for falling into addicition was my self hatred and feeling like I was never good enough. I vowed to work hard on myself and get back up even after falling down. I am slowly getting myself back on track and its this work on myself that is keeping me off drugs and alcohol. The key to sobriety is understanding and figuring out what was making you want to be numb in the first place and then working on that.
Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I thank you for commenting. Sounds like you’ve dealt with a lot of suffering, and you’re doing the work it takes to improve. You have great insight into why you used and addiction recovery in general. Love it.
I have tried A.A. and N.A. to help with my substance issues. The 12 steps although useful in some areas have not been the “one size fits all” tool for me. I have attended countless meetings with limited success. God bless the people who are successful in the programs but I don’t seem to be able to make it work for me. I know they have a success rate of less than 10 percent. I believe the support of others and social interaction is responsible for the success they have. If it helps and works for the individual great. I am inclined to seek alternative solutions more centered on the nature of my problem and my personal goals and objectives.
Thanks for your comment on this. That’s my main view of it as well. It works great for some people, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all and certainly, there are other ways to quit an addiction and stay quit.
Great article! I attended 12 step groups 40 years ago and stayed clean for 38 years until I had a back injury and was prescribed opioids. I am alot older and wiser now. I was able to get off them w/o the help of the 12 step program. I was not abusing them and would take less than what was prescribed as I knew what would happen when I weaned off of them. What I didn’t like about the 12 step programs is that some of their rules did not apply to me. As Chris Bell the director of the documentary Prescription Thugs and Leaf of Faith said religion can not cure your addiction. Addicts are not powerless over their addiction. With people like yourself and strong will power it can be done! You and many others are proof of that. Keep up the great work!
Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate your comment on this topic. 🙂