This is the Year! (I swear…)
New Years Resolutions. The idea has almost become cliché. We joke about our resolutions and the fact that we are probably going to break them anyway. Stuck in the cycle of addiction, I would resolve each year, on January 1st, that I was going to stop using drugs and alcohol. I was going to get my life together. I was going to change. ‘This is the year. I swear!’ And I meant it. For about two hours until the craving and obsession took over.
My problem was one in which I wanted to believe that I had the ability to quit without help. My willpower, which worked so well in other areas of my life, would give me the strength to stop. I had not come to the understanding that alone, I was powerless over my addiction. This is the baffling fact for many of us suffering from this disease. I want to stop, I just don’t want to admit that I cannot do it on my own. I do not want to be perceived as weak, incapable, or unable to manage my life. And I would stick to my resolve. All the way to the dealer or the liquor store.
In the past, when I had been asked if I wanted help by those who could already see that I had a problem, I of course said that I didn’t have a problem, and resolved that I would stop on my own to prove that. Until the craving and obsession took over and all bets were off. Once the consequences snowballed to the point where I could not hide them, and my life was complete chaos, the resolutions stopped. I gave up believing that I could stop. I accepted that there was no way I was going to change – and I gave up caring as well. At that point my life seemed hopeless.
Then, something changed. I was offered help again after another consequence that seemed would end me in jail for a long time. At that point I gave up resisting and accepted the help. It has been explained to me that when I truly gave up in my own mind, and came to terms with the fact that I could not stop on my own, that I became open to the idea of assistance. In recovery circles we refer to this as ‘surrender’. It is the point in which I accept help and the recovery process begins. No amount of singular effort or the resolutions to do such have worked for me and most other people who suffer this affliction. The willpower that is required is TO ASK FOR HELP AND ACCEPT IT.
Accepting help, and helping others, is the foundation of the addiction recovery process. Together we are capable of overcoming that which we cannot alone. No resolution, willpower, personal goal, or level of determination has ever allowed me control over my addiction. I have to resolve to allow others to assist me in the process of stopping. That is where the true effort comes into play. Can I swallow my pride, my embarrassment and my humility and admit that I need help and cannot quit on my own?
A small suggestion based on my experience; stop resolving to quit, and instead, resolve to ask others for help. You might just find that you do stop this time.
Paul L. Scudo is the Executive Director of Step Denver and is in recovery from the disease of addiction.
I am proud to be one of the proportionately small number of people in the world-wide population that was born and lives in the United States. We have a quality of life in this country that is envied by most of the rest of the Earth’s populace. It is the land of opportunity. Of freedom. Of safety. Of choice. The land of the free. And recently, the home of the addicted.read more
Each year as Mother’s Day approaches, I reflect on how grateful I am for my mom. Most importantly, how grateful I am that she stopped enabling me.read more
It is commonly understood that there are many pathways to recovery, not all of which are agreed upon by everyone. Again, variety can be a good thing. That’s why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. The one thing that is universally agreed upon is that the disease of addiction requires a solution.read more
The Colorado Health Institute released its updated overdose death data for the State of Colorado. The report may be found here: www.coloradohealthinstitute.org/research/death-drugs.
Obviously, the numbers are alarming.
‘The Luck of the Addict’ Ah, the Luck of the Addict! Yes, that sounds like quite the oxymoron. My experience was that being an addict ended up being the luckiest thing that life has provided me. And with many others in recovery from the disease of addiction, you...read more
February. The coldest month of the year. The height of winter. And, brrrrr, it’s cold out there! February is also the month of love. Valentine’s Day is a time we stop to reflect on those we love, their importance in our lives and to show the gratitude and...read more
The Super Bowl Hangover In our last blog, I talked about the ‘New Year’s Resolution’ to quit drinking and using drugs. And my chronic failures to do such. Again, and again. Well people, one of the main reasons for my loss in willpower was the %@$# Super Bowl! ...read more
As a homeless person, I spent two years’ worth of holidays on the street. No family, no presents, no festive dinners, none of the excitement and activities that most of us associate with and participate in during the ‘Holiday Season.’ Alone, cold and sad, I watched others go about their frenzied activities with enthusiasm and anticipation. And it hurt…read more
Take, take, take. Captive in the cycle of addiction, that is what I did. I took your drugs, alcohol, money, food, shelter, help. I took your trust in me when I lied to you. I took your enablement so that my disease could continue to flourish…read more
In this time of giving thanks, it is customary to focus on our families. For me this is especially true given the pain, misery, and trouble I subjected my family to while in my active addiction. To say that I took them for granted would be putting it mildly – emotionally, psychologically, and financially. I did what I had to do to maintain my addiction and lying to them and leveraging their love for me was a daily part of that.read more
It is my modus operandi to take things for granted. ‘I deserve this.’ ‘I should get that.’ ‘I am entitled to the things that I want.’ Key word, ‘want’. Not earned. Not needed. Want. Selfishness, self-centeredness, and ego drive my thoughts and actions. As addicts, our diseased mind is wired to think and feel this way. Therefore, it was important for me to un-learn and de-program that way of thinking if I was to ever have a fulfilled and better life.read more
One of our main tenets at Step Denver is taking a role in our community and being of service to it and its members. We teach our men that it is vital to give back, to put our selfishness aside and to involve ourselves in the community of which we are a part. A key component to Community is Partnership. Collaboration with others in our community is paramount to ensuring a community’s health and prosperity.read more
The fact is that in 99% of the cases, an individual CANNOT recover from the disease of addiction of his/her own volition. The solution? Community. Plain and simple, it takes a village.read more
I have learned that service is not about an activity, it is a philosophy, a code to live by. It is about helping others in all facets of my life. About looking for how I might put the needs of others foremost in my mind, in spite of my own personal life fears. And that is scary.read more
We are happy to report that as of July 15th, 2017, we opened the houses and they are now home to ten Step residents! Our goal is to help our men to reintegrate into their communities in a safe and successful manner that will provide them with the tools and experience to help ensure a smooth transition.read more
There was a time, in the not too distant past, that I dreaded the coming of Fall. As a homeless person, Fall brought cold, wet, and difficult conditions through which I would have to survive, day to day. It also was the harbinger of Winter, which, as you can imagine, is the worst season for a homeless individual…read more
When we think of Work, our natural inclination is to think of employment or a job. But work is so much more than that. It is a philosophy. A philosophy that implies that work, or effort, in all facets of our lives, is paramount to personal responsibility and self-respect.read more
Today the talk is of the opiate epidemic and how it is killing thousands of people a month. The conversations surround the legalization of marijuana and how, as the gateway drug, it is leading to harder drugs and drug addiction. What we rarely hear discussed is alcohol addiction. The deaths related to alcohol consumption through physical health issues. And make no mistake, alcohol is the gateway drug.read more
On April 26th, Wendy Bergen, a beloved leader in the Denver non-profit community, passed away suddenly. Wendy recently served as the Chair of the Board here at Step Denver.read more