Overcoming Addiction Through Spiritual Growth

DenaOctober 22, 2009

evolutionyou.net | wheat

On March 12, 2006, two things became perfectly clear: I did not want to die after all, and I was scared as hell to go on living.

The next day I entered rehab for the third time in as many years. I have not had a drink or mind altering drug since that day. My name is Jared and I’m a grateful recovered alcoholic. Grateful? You mean you’re grateful you’re an alcoholic? Yes, but I’ll get to that a little later. Right now I want to concentrate on the word “recovered.” And you know what: this is really going to be amazing because it just “hit” me the depth and meaning of that word, recovered. It means today, right now, I’m recovered. I’m not practicing alcoholism and I have no obsession and desire to drink. And as long as I follow a few simple rules, I can stay that way.

Each day I wake up with untreated alcoholism. The moment my head comes off the pillow, I’m a raging alcoholic. I’m likely to drink today if I do not follow a few simple rules. I prefer to break the rules down into a list of three: 1. Trust God, 2. Clean House, and 3. Help Others.

Trust God
Trusting God sounds complicated, spiritual, and/or religious. It’s not. Simply, it reminds me that I’m not in charge. Before I leave the house every morning I get on my knees and say a simple prayer, known as the third step prayer,

“God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”

Then I wash that down with a simple request, “God, show me what you would have me do today, and give me the strength and willingness to carry it out.” That’s it, that is how I start everyday, and have for the last (as I write this) 1,319 days. If I feel myself rushing through it, I stop and get back into gratitude and the moment. If I think I don’t have time, I ask myself a simple question, “How grateful am I for my sobriety?” That usually get’s me on me knees pretty quick! Get on my knees, or get drunk. Trusting God becomes easier as experiences prove that life is working out for the better when I get out of the way.

Clean House
Cleaning house is known as performing a moral inventory, keeping my side of the street clean. As I pray each night before bed, I run through the day in my head. (Hey that rhymed!) Again, on my knees, I review my day and seek out situations where I could have done better or possibly any wrongs I may have done to myself or others. Are there any amends that need to be made? As I grow spiritually, there are fewer instances that need further attention, or amends. Most are handled in the current moment and thus allowing me to move on, staying in the moment and practicing the spiritual power of now. I learn to avoid commitments I know I cannot keep, become honest about my motives and intentions, and sincere in my actions. The result being my daily inventory is void of regret and remorse for I know I have been true to myself and others in this day.

Help Others
Helping others means I try to be of service whenever possible. This mostly involves sponsoring other alcoholics. But remember in my morning prayer I asked “God, show me what you would have me do today, and give me the strength and willingness to carry it out.” Throughout each day I’m given the opportunity to help others in any capacity, and then I get a chance to see if I really meant it. As a sponsor, my duty is to share with other alcoholics how I have recovered. Pay it forward so to speak. I try to keep this simple, trying to keep my opinion and ego out of the way. Thankfully, I have an instruction manual and support program through Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps. Step 12 states, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” My spiritual awakening has been slow and steady, the significance of events and experiences are often not realized until much later. If I want to reap the benefits of an amazing life tomorrow, I need to be doing the work today!

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.” –From the Book Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 85

OK, now to the grateful recovered alcoholic part. The part of the 12th step that says, “practice these principles in all our affairs,” tells me that I can apply the spiritual principles I’ve learned in all areas of my life. Had I not been an alcoholic, I would have never learned how to live a spiritual life. My life prior to recovery was a mess and would eventually kill me. In my early twenties I had resigned to the fact that I would never be fully satisfied and happy with life, ever. Today, I am. It’s just that simple.

I’d like to make a note about all this spiritual talk. Spirituality has nothing to do with religion. The fact that I use the term God, is what I call a power greater than myself. My relationship with a Higher Power has come through action, as a psychic change developed in response to living my life on basic spiritual principles. These principles are rooted in the four absolutes of Honesty, Unselfishness, Love, and Purity. I learned how to live a spiritual life through working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is not the only way. However, I am convinced that we cannot fix a broken mind and soul with a broken mind. To discover how to live a spiritual life, we need help, which means finding someone who has what we want spiritually, and asking them to show us how they got there. And most importantly, it is the result of action. I’m a big believer in that nothing spiritual or of great transformational importance, ever manifested itself by simply reading and talking about it. To initiate significant, life transforming change, we have to put ourselves out there and interact with the world around us.

“Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.” —Bonnie Raitt

I am only granted a daily reprieve from my alcoholism and character defects. I must work each and everyday on spiritual growth. For me, if I’m not growing spiritually, I’m headed for trouble and drinking. And for me, to drink is to die. Each night I go to sleep a recovered alcoholic, and wake the next day with untreated alcoholism. It does get easier over time however… or as my sponsor would say, “It’s easy, except when it’s not.”

Jared is a web developer from Lee’s Summit, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, reading, writing music, and traveling with his wife. He also enjoys helping others in recovery as much as he can.

I have been a fan of Jared’s writing and his incredible story since I discovered his blog several months ago. I am honored to feature Jared as Evolution You’s first guest blogger.

Please check out Jared’s inspiring blog How To Be Happy.

Comments (5)

  • Karen

    October 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Jared,

    Thank you for writing this. Your story and attitude are beyond inspiring… I love that quote by Bonnie Raitt. She's one of my favorite artists, and I've never seen that quote before. 🙂

    I love what your sponser says… "Its easy, except when it's not." Brilliant philosophy on life as well…


    1. Jared Akers

      August 9, 2012 at 10:59 am

       You’re welcome Karen.

  • Jared | SpiritualZen.net

    October 26, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Thanks Karen

  • Sandra

    January 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I loved reading your story!  How inspiring.  I was looking for an inspirational story to share on my facebook page about recovering from addictions with spirituality and I couldn’t have been led to a better testimonial.  I just found out that someone I knew a long time ago is suffering with an alcohol addiction that is destroying him.  My brother is also an alcoholic and to say it is painful to witness is an understatement.   Thank you for sharing.

    Kind Regards

    1. Jared Akers

      August 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

       Hey Sandra,
      I’m glad you found this article inspiring. Blessings to you and your friend and brother. I hope they don’t give up before the miracle happens.

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