“When The Pain Becomes Great Enough…”

It’s easy to say when one is hurting and, in a jail, or a detox, due to alcohol or drugs or some other addiction, that they’re ready to do whatever it takes to get sober. Why? Because in places like these the pain always feels great enough to say things like that. But what happens when they’re no longer in that jail or no longer in that detox? Sadly, most don’t tend to feel that way anymore.

Week in and week out I meet so many during my commitments at a local jail and a local detox where I hear plenty of sad stories with addiction at their source. Stories of burglaries. Stories of domestic violence. Stories of being homeless. Stories of getting abused. Stories of illness. Stories of abandonment. Stories of loss of kids. So many sad stories!!! Yet, I can’t count the number of times I’ve given my number out at these commitments to people with these sad stories where they look me straight in the eyes and tell me they’re going to get it right this time once they get released. I’ve even had a rare few go so far as to call me as soon as they do get released to make plans to get together with me, but save the rare exception or two, none have ever followed through. Why?

Because the pain wasn’t great enough…

At the source of ALL who find recovery from ALL forms of addiction is one common denominator. That their pain became great enough to do whatever it took to get sober and find a healthy path of recovery. Being in a jail or detox though, while the pain there might be great enough initially, especially in those depressing environments, the sad reality is that once they walk out those doors and are free to do whatever they wish, the idea of going to a 12 Step meeting, or sitting down with a potential sponsor like me, or going into some type of recovery program doesn’t usually seem all that alluring.

Rather, the addict brain tends to take over, pushing them straight back into their addiction, and quite frequently within the first few hours of release at that!!! I often believe that any human in some form of captivity will say just about anything to free themselves from being in an unwanted environment. But with freedom also comes the harshness of the world where the addict brain says I don’t want to experience that harshness, which is precisely what leads straight back into their world of addiction.

Over and over this pattern will continue where I’ve seen people go from the streets to detoxes and back to the streets and back to the detoxes and maybe throw in a few jail sentences in between, never once getting more than a few days sober here and there, until finally, one day, something big happens, something usually pretty tragic, that finally shakes them up enough, to do what it takes, and that’s exactly when the pain becomes great enough for them to do the work to get sober once and for all.

My pain became great enough the first time around when I was drinking and drugging so much that I wasn’t drawing any sober breaths anymore, all because I was covering up my sexuality and didn’t want to be gay. My pain became great enough a second time around at a much deeper level when I lost a seven-year relationship and realized money had become my addiction, yet it wasn’t fixing my problems anymore. And finally, my pain became great enough a third and final time around at such a deep level because I had let sex and love addiction behaviors corrupt my soul.

I don’t want my pain to become great enough a fourth time around, because I’m not sure I could survive that type of pain or even find my way back into my 12 Step recovery again. That’s why I do as much as I do in the world of recovery now and it’s why I’ll keep on telling my story at those jail commitments and those detox commitments. Because there, I know I’m planting seeds of recovery for God, where one day, when the pain becomes great enough, those seeds will sprout, leading them into the rooms of recovery, hopefully once and for all.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson