In a matter of days, it will have been two years since I last used crystal meth. I’ve not had a thought of using in months. But, today, I had an elaborate, well-orchestrated, feasible plan to get high—all in matter of seconds. My brain bloomed the entire scenario in super fast-motion, like those time-lapsed videos of a flower springing from bud to wide open.
In the first year of my sobriety, I remember how a using thought—especially one that was as detailed and planned like this one—would upset me. In a panic, I’d question whether I was serious about getting clean at all.
Sometimes a detailed thought would turn into an obsession and would graduate from thought to full-blown craving. That was a living hell. Of course, I employed the tools I’d been taught to combat such things when they happened: pickup the phone and call a fellow addict, and tell them about it.
Whatever I did, the rule was: I cannot keep my thought a secret. I had to share, to dis-empower the thought and take away its hold over my psyche. Usually, I’d also share in a general way to a group of addicts, hopefully, later that same day. These tools I’d learned saved my sanity and sobriety. It was so true that slogan: you’re only as sick as your secrets.
And inevitably someone with more time would calmly remind me, it was natural to have these thoughts, especially in early sobriety. It was natural to have intense cravings when triggered, especially for those of us who smoked or injected our meth. Ride it through and breathe. Talk about it and, before you know, it will have passed. And so it did, always.
But today, though my thought certainly didn’t become an obsession, it was extremely well-planned and startlingly feasible. I remember, when I realized what I was doing, when my mind suddenly became aware of itself lost in this brief awake dream of using, I immediately smiled to myself.
That’s the difference between several months and two years clean. I might have even laughed aloud a little, I’m not sure. I can only report it felt funny, almost hilarious. Because today I know it was only a thought.
Here’s the reality: I’m going to have using thoughts, sometimes elaborate and doable, from time to time, maybe for the rest of my life. But today, I don’t panic when it happens.
And for all you who are just weeks or months into recovery and battling these thoughts daily still, I want you to know that overtime I’ve found they subside. Like I said, it has been awhile, months, since I’d had one.
Though a friend of mine, who’s almost four years clean, claims he still has cravings daily, but they too just make him laugh at himself now. A crucial distinction. He knows it’s his disease talking in his head and it makes him laugh, thinking, something like, “Really, is that the best you’ve got to offer?”
Try to remember, it’s merely a thought rising into consciousness from your addict mind, nothing more. And as a teacher of mine from the old days was fond of saying, “It’s just a thought and a thought can be changed.”
I guess my point is: given the proper distance and time from active use, these thoughts can even become entertaining. There’s nothing so dis-empowering over a using dream or thought as calling up your besty and saying, “You won’t believe what my crazy brain thought today,” and then confessing the gory details as you both laugh at yourselves.
So for all you readers early in your sobriety, cheer up. It won’t always seem so daunting.