“I’m Freakin’ Hungover And I’m Calling Off Work Because Of It!!!”

Just the other day, I overheard someone noticeably upset as they yelled into their phone about how hungover they were and how they were going to take the day off of work because of it. Man, I truly don’t miss those days whatsoever!

One of the things that Bill Wilson (co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps) once said was how none of his best days drinking were better than any of his worst days sober. Listening to this person in their extreme hungover state was a great reminder of why that still remains true for me when it comes to this disease even after being over 26 years clean and sober from it.

How many times did I used to wake up in the morning over the course of my alcoholic and drug addicted days to excess did I feel awful, cranky, angry, smelly, with headaches, and filled with shame about what I had done the night before are far too many to recollect. I rarely felt good about myself on most mornings back then, most of which came during my college years and just beyond after graduation.

I most certainly remember those days when I skipped my classes because of hangovers, as much as I remember going to my classes and learning nothing as I gripped my throbbing head hoping to stifle the pain somehow, all while drinking copious amount of water to make it go away. And I most certainly remember my first job out after graduation taking days off due to hungover states, telling myself it was ok, when it wasn’t. Because ultimately, both in college and in my life after, there were people who were relying upon me and responsibilities I had that I selfishly never thought about each time I drank or drugged to such excesses, where I had to remove myself from all my obligations the next day because of it.

A sad fact is that alcoholics and drug addicts are selfish to the very core and tend to think nothing of actions such as calling off of work, never once caring about who’s affected by decisions like that, such as their boss who’s already struggling with a limited staff, who has their own challenges in life, and ends up having to force those who do show up to work, to take double duty, causing them far greater strife in the process. In my case, it was the software team I was on, who had to work overtime to cover my slack, not even getting paid for it due to being salaried.

The goal of 12 Step recovery for me has always been and continues to be one that moves away from behaviors like this. Rather, I work hard at being more of a selfless person, one who thinks about each of my actions and the ramifications they might have upon the masses, something I never did during my days of drinking and drugging to excess, where harsh hangovers in the mornings led me to doing the exact opposite.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and all 12 Step programs of recovery not only can prevent a person from ever having to be in a hangover state again, where bad decisions like calling off work tend to happen, but also will help an individual learn how to be far more selfless in a world where they once were far more selfish and consumed with self more than not…

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

Everyone Has The Potential Of Succumbing To A Toxic Addiction…

I’m frequently asked in many of my alcohol and drug addiction presentations with nursing students what causes a toxic addiction to rear its ugly head in someone and what type of person typically tends to succumb to it. Let me be very clear here in saying that anyone can succumb to a toxic addiction and it usually stems from a desire to avoid something that feels uncomfortable going on within an individual.

I always find it rather comical during any of my addiction presentations outside the rooms of 12 Step recovery when no one raises a hand there to my question of whether anyone has ever been addicted to anything in their lives. The truth is, everyone at some point or another has had an addiction to something, it just may not be one of the truly toxic ones that end up destroying a person’s life.

Some examples of non-life destroying addictions that people often succumb to are binge-watching, video game marathoning, frequent Amazon purchasing, indulging in large quantiles of sweets or caffeinated beverages, working long hours, etc. Doing anything of those for the purpose of receiving some desired effect or outcome is ultimately at the core of every addiction. Of course, any of those things can be done in moderation and there are good addictions as well, like working out once a day in a gym for example. But what happens when someone works out for hours and hours on end until they start harming their body? Why are they working out so much in the first place where injury begins to happen? This is precisely when a good addiction turns into a bad one for someone and how many of the more toxic addictions begin to take form in an individual.

Take the student who is pushing themselves so hard in their university due to external and internal pressures to succeed. Maybe their release from all that pressure initially starts out in a positive way by exercising in a gym. But one night, they’re invited out for a drink after a completely overwhelming day, on a day they didn’t get their workout in, all because of their heavy workload and pressures they are putting themselves through. That first drink that night really hits the spot well, so well that it provides them a quicker ease and comfort to cope with all that pressure they’re under than doing their daily workout. So, they have a few more drinks that night because of the benefit it’s providing, making them believe that pressure has subsided. It hasn’t though and at some point, the pressure gets overwhelming again, enough so that their mind reminds them it can quickly be alleviated by taking a few drinks. So, they do that again that night, for that desired effect, and once received, they are off and running to the addiction races so to speak, creating that vicious cycle. Not everyone will succumb to alcohol or drug addiction though under even similar circumstances because there are plenty of other toxic addictions out there to numb a person from something uncomfortable going on in their lives. The same person under those school pressures could have picked up food one night and binged incredibly because it made them feel really good doing it. Or maybe they went to a casino and won big. Or maybe they hooked up with someone and had great sex. In each of those actions, the individual is avoiding dealing with what’s at the core, that being all that heavy pressure they’re putting themselves through and don’t want to feel.

The reality is, doing any action in the excess, where it begins to consume a person, and interfere with them living out a balanced and positive life, is the start of every toxic addiction, no matter what the action is. Whether it’s seeking likes or comparing oneself to others on social media, looking at things like pornography on the Internet, saying yes when you’re already overloaded, or something else, each may start out harmless, but turn harmful when it becomes a repeated action to avoid some uncomfortable condition, feeling, or fact of life.

The bottom line is that everyone has the potential of succumbing to a toxic addiction at some point in their life. As soon as any individual starts trying to avoid an uncomfortable reality in their life by using some external means to numb themselves from it, it’s precisely when a toxic addiction begins to rear its ugly head…

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

“This Too Shall Pass”, An AA Slogan You Need To Stick Around For It To Come True…

“This too shall pass.”

A slogan I heard the very first day I checked out the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) back in early summer of 1995 when I first became clean and sober. Regrettably, I didn’t stick around long enough to know that slogan only came true if I worked the 12 Step program that Bill Wilson and Bob Smith laid out decades ago for all of us. It took me another 12 years of what I like to call living out a life of “sodriety” to finally figure that out.

Living a life of “sodriety” was me living a completely sober life free from alcohol, but still acting like a drunk. Most people in the rooms of recovery these days refer to someone like that as a dry drunk, which I most certainly was throughout the majority of my first 12 years of sobriety. In fact, the exact opposite of “This Too Shall Pass” happened to me during all those years, as nothing passed at all. Nothing really changed for me other than things continuing to fall apart, resentments building, and wreckage stayed wrecked. My spiritual life remained mostly stagnant during that time period as well, except for some brief moments where I’d go to meetings for a while and share my drama, feel better for doing so, and then disappear again as soon as I did. While I did see a therapist during those years and went on a few retreats to help the imbalance I lived in, I stayed clear of doing the 12 Steps because I didn’t want to fully look at myself in the mirror. What I didn’t know was that for that slogan, “This Too Shall Pass”, to fully come true in my life, it meant taking a hard look at myself in the mirror, something the 12 Steps do very well for every individual who pursues them. But, I didn’t want to take a hard look at myself, as I was just too afraid to go through the pain of healing, so nothing really passed at all from my life that would have made my life far better.

In the process, I fell into countless other addictions, lost plenty of money, relationships, friends, and the like, just a like an active alcoholic often has happen to them, except in my case, I wasn’t drinking anymore and hadn’t been for many years. While God took away my obsession to drink beginning on June 10th, 1995, He didn’t take away all the baggage of my life. That was for me to work through and the 12 Step program was a perfect way to do that. I truly wish I had applied myself back then, at the beginning stages of my sobriety, by doing those 12 Steps, as I’d probably have gotten far healthier, mind, body, and soul, much sooner in life. Thankfully, I found enough honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness, to finally do the 12 Steps in the fall of 2007 and ever since life has gotten better.

The heavy burden I once felt when I first checked out AA so long ago now, truly did become less and less the more I kept coming back, the more I worked those 12 Steps, and the more I sought the guidance of my Higher Power through it all. Now, I’ve come to see that a simple and once thought, silly little slogan of “This Too Shall Pass”, really does have a truth to it that one will only ever grasp, by just sticking around, something I didn’t do for over 12 years, but something I do now, one day at a time, hopefully for the rest of my life.

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