We addicts love our instant gratification, and one of the places it really shows up is in our seeming conviction that we ought to get better right away.
Let’s face it: with virtually no exceptions, we spent months (at the least) and years (far more likely) using alcohol and other drugs. We took all that time to mess up our brains and bodies to the point that we were miserable enough to decide to do something about it. Then we got clean, and suddenly we were amazed that we still felt like crap, and that our minds were still running off in all directions at once.
For goodness sake, why wouldn’t they be? We aren’t addicted to substances, per se, we’re addicted to the changes they make in our brains. Doesn’t it make sense that those changes, created over months or years, should take a while to repair themselves? Of course we continue to think about our drugs. Of course we feel like crap. Of course our bodies — suffering from malnutrition and who knows what other problems — take six months to a year to get back to something like normal. If we took a bulldozer to our house we wouldn’t expect to put it back together into livable condition right away, with minimal effort and attention, would we?
We think in the short term: how long until the next chance to have a drink, shoot up, meet with the guy on the corner, pop that pill. We’re used to doing our thing and feeling more or less instant results. Changing that way of thinking around, accepting that not everything we want comes exactly when we want it, takes time. Time takes time.
Left to our own devices, we’ll try to find short-term solutions. There aren’t any. Recovery is physical and mental healing, and doesn’t happen overnight. If we don’t take our time and put in the work, if we give in to that short-term addict thinking again, we’re not going to make it.
That’s why we need programs, folks. That’s why we need the guidance of others. We’re in no condition to figure these things out for ourselves.