Only Those Who Are Truly Desperate…

It is said that only those who are truly desperate will ever end up doing the entire 12 Step recovery process from beginning to end. Desperate for what you may ask? Desperate for a new way of life.

I asked my best friend a few weeks ago, how many sponsees of his have fully completed the entire 12 Step recovery process in his almost 28 years of sobriety. He guessed somewhere between 20 to 30, which is out of what I’d say is well over 500 people by now that he’s ever sponsored. Personally, I’ve sponsored well over 100 individuals now myself in the years I’ve been doing this 12 Step recovery process, and can count on two hands the number of people who’ve actually completed the work.

I provide these unsettling statistics because most really aren’t desperate enough to finish the 12 Step recovery process after a few months of sobriety and stability get under their belt. The sad reality is that most individuals when they first make their way into the rooms of recovery are only desperate until whatever drove them into the rooms gets resolved or calms down enough for them to start focusing their energy elsewhere.

Quite recently, I had to let a sponsee go for this reason. They started out in total desperation with a desire to do this 12 Step recovery process and for the first three to four months, they proved that week in and week. At some point though, their work, relationship, family, a new home, and more began to take higher precedence, all of which ironically were in dire jeopardy of being lost when they started out with me. But, once those things no longer seemed to be in serious jeopardy and once their life began to feel far more stable, I watched as they slowly pushed the step work aside more and more. After several months went by with no real progress being made on their step work and constant promises that they’ll eventually get it done, I realized I could no longer be held hostage when so many others were still out there desperate for a solution.

When I first came to 12 Step recovery, I was 100% desperate for a solution. When a woman saw that fire in my eyes, she took me under her wing and brought me through the 12 Step recovery process. And even when my life started to get calmer and more stable, I clearly remembered how desperate my life was before the work, so I stuck with it and that desperation is precisely what powered me through to the end of the work.

I’ve learned in all the years since, that being desperate truly is the key to doing the 12 Step recovery work and sticking with it till the end. That’s why I had to cut my sponsee loose because they no longer were desperate enough to be driven to do this work and instead, were making excuses to getting it done.

The fact is, it’s desperation that drives a person to do just about anything. But when life provides a person the things they desire, like a good job with good pay, a great partner, a wonderful family, a beautiful home, etc., there begins to not be the need for the 12 Step recovery process, because it’s then that feeling of desperation starts to go away. I know this oh so well because I spent the first twelve years of my sobriety having everything I wanted in life and thus never feeling desperate enough to do the 12 Step recovery process. It was only after I lost a seven-year relationship, a business, my mental and emotional health, and my home, that I became desperate enough for this work. And when life started to get better again for me, because it eventually did, I didn’t lose that feeling of desperation, because I forced myself to constantly remember all the pain I had gone through prior. For those who aren’t desperate enough to complete the 12 Step recovery process though, the tragic reality is that they tend to relapse. Why? Because they start believing their life is more important than their recovery, which is the very thing that leads them away from this work. But, my door always remains open for those who are desperate.

What does desperation look like? Well, sometimes, it looks like a person knocking on my front door at 11:30pm on a weeknight, where I welcome a person into my kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee and a shoulder to lean on while they cry. I only wish when that type of desperation comes, that I could bottle it up, so it could be returned when things get better for them, to help remind the person how bad it once was.

Nevertheless, the 12 Step recovery process is ultimately only for those who are totally desperate, desperate for a new way of life, and desperate enough to stick around, even when life begins to get better. Because it always does, and when it does, it’s those who hold onto that desperation that tend to make it through, and I thank God for each of them, for I wouldn’t be here doing what I do today, even right here in this blog, if it wasn’t for them…

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

Yep, I’m Still An Alcoholic!

Many have often asked me how I know if I’m an alcoholic since so many years have gone by since the last time I ever consumed anything with alcohol in it. Some have even suggested that maybe I could handle it differently now, especially since it’s been so long (25 years now). Well, I can put all those questions to rest in light of something so silly as how I found myself consuming caffeinated beverages again in recent weeks.

I know caffeine isn’t good for me. Frankly, it makes me have incredible mood swings where I quite often do a Jekyll and Hyde transformation whenever I’ve had too much of it. Yet, every time I go through certain rough periods where everything seems to feel upside down in my life, I tend to start consuming caffeinated beverages for the slight ease and comfort they give me.

Here’s a quick statistic you may not know. Every day, about 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine in some form. More than half of the adults in the country consume 300 milligrams a day, making it America’s most popular drug. Scientists have even classified caffeine as a psychoactive drug that can alter moods and behavior, which is probably the very reason why I’ve frequently fallen back into consuming it from time to time, even when I know it’s not good for me.

My most recent battle with it started 5 weeks ago on a day where I was feeling totally unloved by my partner, where my pain levels were also high, and where loneliness was the only feeling I felt within me. On that day, I chose to go to Starbucks and order my favorite drink, one that normally had 3 shots of decaf espresso in it. But, this time I ordered two of them to be decaf and one to regular. A week later, I ordered the same drink with 2 regular shots of espresso and only 1 decaf. The week after that, I had all 3 be regular espresso in my drink. And finally, on the fourth week, I began ordering iced drinks with 4 shots of regular espresso, which is precisely when I realized how much I had fallen back into an addiction to caffeine and how much it also reminded me of the way I once consumed alcohol.

One beer to relax, became two beers, became three beers, became four beers, until it was many beers. The same became true with so many other addictions over the years as well. So, I’m actually thankful I saw how quickly I descended into addiction with caffeine because it was such a great reminder that I still have that “addiction gene” going on within me, meaning that if I drank any bit of alcohol again in my life, that same old drunk within me would return.

Thankfully, a caffeine addiction can be easily broken in a week to two, even for the die-hards who’ve consumed caffeinated beverages for years and years. In my case, after only four weeks of it, I was able to quickly detox from it in about 4 days. But, I can promise you that breaking an alcohol addiction is far more difficult, and something I don’t EVER want to risk trying again to see if I can handle it differently. As they say in many-a-meeting I’ve been to in Alcoholics Anonymous, “I may have another relapse, but I may not have another recovery.”

While there probably will be another relapse of caffeine at some point for me, and another quick recovery when I see my reaction to it hasn’t changed, I’m not willing to risk a relapse with alcohol ever again, because I know I wouldn’t recover from it, not after all these years. So, thank God caffeine doesn’t destroy a life as bad as alcohol can, and thank God for the great reminder through something as silly as overly consuming caffeine, that yep, I’m still an alcoholic and always will be!

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

Am I Really Sticking My Head In The Sand With All That’s Going On In Our Country?

Some have said that I need to take more of a serious stance on the pressing issues in our country presently, that I should pay more attention to the news, and stop sticking my head in the sand with all that’s going on in our country. Am I really sticking my head in the sand because I haven’t been paying attention to the ever-increasing number of cases and deaths from COVID-19? Am I really sticking my head in the sand because I haven’t been out there protesting alongside the Black Lives Matter movement? And I really sticking my head in the sand because I haven’t cared much about what our current President has said or done or who our next President will even be?

Here’s my simple truth.

I do care about all those who have suffered from COVID and who have died. I do care about all the tragic police brutality and all those who have wrongly suffered from it. And I do care about having a spiritually healthy President who I could actually aspire to be more like. But, the fact is, I haven’t been placing my energy into any of those things whatsoever, not because I don’t care about them, but because my energy has been 100% focused on something that’s far more important to me, that being my recovery from addiction.

I have often pondered, especially in recent months, giving up my sobriety to alcohol and drugs and cigarettes and sex and love and a number of other former addictions as well, all because I’ve felt so terrible inside my body day after day after day. So, one might say I’ve been fighting daily to keep my sobriety by investing ALL of my energy both into remaining clean and sober from so many deadly addictions that each almost took my life, and into helping others still suffering from any of those addictions too.

There still are over 130 people a day dying from overdoses in this country. There still are people regularly drowning their sorrows in booze who don’t know how to stop. There still are people who have COPD and yet continue to chain smoke. There still are people who spend hours engaging in unhealthy promiscuity and pornography. But helping them isn’t the priority for the majority of the masses right now, but it is for me. Because my sobriety and recovery depend on helping others who are still suffering from addiction.

The only remedy I’ve found to all my frustration, suffering, and outright madness surrounding my present state of health has been to stay in the trenches helping others who have suffered from any one of the addictions I ever succumbed to in this life. And somehow doing so, has kept me clean and sober through all of these difficult times we’re living in.

Look, if I don’t remain clean and sober, I will die. I know that today. My father and mother both died from addiction and I’ve often thought about following in their shoes because I can’t take the pain of my existence at times. But, somehow, getting out there and helping another suffering addict, has kept me going in a different direction then them, ONE DAY AT A TIME, through even the worst of pain I’ve felt within.

So, while it may seem like I’m sticking my head in the sand on all of these pressing issues in our country right now and that I don’t care about them, I do care. BUT, I care far more about my sobriety, remaining alive, and doing everything I can to stay clean and sober from a number of addictions that once completely ravaged my life. How I do that is the only way I know, by placing every bit of my energy into my 12-step recovery work, especially by helping another suffering soul who hasn’t been freed yet from their addiction.

My energy is totally on my 12 Step recovery and I’m ok with that, because if I don’t have my recovery from addiction, I have nothing, including the energy for anyone or anything else, not COVID, not Black Lives Matter, not the President, nothing. So, thank God for my sobriety and thank God I’m not sticking my head in the sand when it comes to my recovery. Because without it, I’d surely be dead…

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