By Guest Blogger, Kim Williams
Kim Williams is a father, husband, business executive, author, and a former ordained minister in long-term recovery from substance use disorder. This series of “Ask an Addict” is offered in hopes of helping to remove the stigma of addiction and promote the reality of recovery. #WeDoRecover #FacesAndVoicesOfRecovery
I sent an email to several colleagues, friends and family members asking them, “If you could ask a recovering addict any question, what would you ask?” The following are the final set of questions and responses. If you missed Part 1 or 2 of this series, you will also want to click here!
9. If you could pinpoint something that happened in your childhood that swayed you towards addictive tendencies, what was that?
I’m not a doctor, psychiatrist, or researcher, so I can only offer my opinion. Before I do, please know that there is a good bit of research on the cause and nature of addiction (links below), and science is still learning more regularly. I expect we will know much more in the future as research progresses. Keep in mind. We are complicated creatures, us humans. We don’t know the origin of many things.
That said, I believe that I have always been prone to addiction. Even as a small child, I would seek refuge in experiences that made me feel different, better. I do also believe that the environment of my childhood poorly equipped me to manage my feelings. Feelings, particularly uncomfortable, “bad” feelings, were discouraged and discounted. Coupled with an explosive event in our family history – the tragic death of my father at a young age of 36 from heart failure – and the intensity of challenging feelings was abundant. I never really learned how to deal with those until I began therapy and my recovery work. My biological makeup made it easy for me to seek relief in substances. The environment of my childhood made it challenging to learn the coping behaviors that I needed to learn. I know. I’m walking the fence and saying that Substance Use Disorder has biological and environmental contributors.
10. Do you believe one can ‘just stop’? Does this belief/thought change if it were before recovery, versus after recovery?
Some people do “just stop.” I know several people who had a problem with drugs or alcohol and made the simple choice to stop. So if your question is really about addicts/alcoholics, then I’d say yes. However, it isn’t common, and (hear me here, please) I’m not sure they are recovering. There are two phases of recovery: the task of removing the substances from our bodies and the work of fixing the messed-up part of us that drives our addiction. That second part is hard, deep work, and it is very uncommon for it to happen without some formal recovery program or intensive therapeutic work. The term “dry drunk” refers to a person who has stopped substance use but hasn’t changed their inner workings.
Keep in mind; addictive behaviors can be about more than just substances. Without the deep inner work of change, we are likely to substitute one addictive behavior for another.
More information on Dry Drunk and 12 Step Recovery: What is Dry Drunk Syndrome? (soberrecovery.com)
11. While we all have free will and only change once we determine to, was there one thing that someone said to you that hit home and made you want to turn a positive corner to recovery?
Short answer. No. However, the consequences* that I experienced from my drug use did take me to the point of helplessness that I needed to start recovery. I don’t think someone can talk an addict into seeking recovery. However, I believe that carefully conducted therapeutic interventions led by experts can sometimes help a person seek help.
I would describe my turning point as coming from a combination of giving up, fatigue, and a hope that someone could help me if I let them. My hope rests in part on the things I heard over the years about recovery, 12 step programs, myself, and the nature of addiction. The people who planted those seeds of hope in my life were many – therapists, family, professors, ministers, and friends.
*I have told the story of my turning point here: Kim Williams: Pastor. Father. Husband. Addict. | Columnists | journalnow.com
More about Interventions: Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction – Mayo Clinic
We cannot that Kim enough for his openness in discussing these sensitive topics. Unquestionably, we know that his words and advice will have a positive affect on someone. In addition, Kim is willing to talk to anyone with questions or concerns. Be sure to check out Kim’s blog and contact him at any time here.