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A Revolutionary Way of Looking at Recovery from Addiction


August 2017

Einstein is quoted as saying, “You can’t fix a problem with the same mind that created it” or a variation on that.

Here’s my twist:  I cannot fix my alcoholism with the same drinking that created it in the first place.

The idea is simple but the fix isn’t.

I know of treatment centers that have recovering people sitting in the same waiting room as people waiting for their daily hit of methadone.  It gets better, those who have already taken their hit and are effectively sitting there stoned.  

This is so-called “evidence-based” recovery, or more to the point, this is what you get when those who know nothing about recovery try to implement a recovery program.  I mean someone who studied sociology in college, got their degree, and figures they know about recovery and addiction because they learned about it over a few chapters in a class or two… and they’re smart.

Put a newly recovering person in that situation and they’re drunk or shooting up again within a week, or they’re on methadone again.

If you put someone with a year of clean time in that situation, I would expect they would sit through it once, never to return.  They would likely remain cordial, quiet and reserved.

You put me in that situation and… well let’s just say you could expect an enthusiastic, proactive response, followed by my laughing at you as I walk out the door.  It takes a special kind of stupid to put newly recovering people in that situation.

We have this funny saying, “You sit in a barbershop long enough, eventually you’re getting a haircut”.  In the case above, the counselors are actually taking the barbershop to the addict.

You can’t fix an addict with the same use that created the addict in the first place.  We get away, or we get dead.  It’s simple as that.  I cannot fix my alcoholism with the same thinking, the same sickness that created it.

Don’t take my word for it though…  You go right ahead and bang your head against that brick wall.  I’ll be over here enjoying my existence.  See me when you’re tired of failing so we can change that thinking a little bit.

This isn’t revolutionary thinking actually.  It’s been around for a little more than 80 years.  It was uber-revolutionary back then though… if that makes you feel better.


  1. The transformation of our minds takes considerable time but like you point out it is vital to living a life of recovery. We teetered, stumbled, tumbled and fell into the darkness. Recognizing that a change of direction was in order, we, with the help of our Higher Power and others, got back on our feet physically. The journey continues as we recalibrate our hearts and our minds, choosing to live life differently. Thanks for this post. It hit the spot today.

  2. Tammi Lewis says:

    Thank you for this post.

  3. chad davis says:

    It’s nice to see like minded people out there! I live in a place where I’m surrounded by people who are die hard 12-steps … period. I’d personally like to smack them with several of my psychology or neuroscience textbooks, but it wouldn’t change anything in their own heads. Keep advocating for change! Sooner or later, it will happen! Have a great day!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks, Chad… what I wrote is straight out of the Big Book, though. It’s just nuanced and doesn’t use the old jargon. Call it a different way of looking at the steps is all.

      Now, that said, I do say “whatever works” but by that, I never will promote someone simply stop drinking without working on the underlying problems. Anyone who works with alcoholics and addicts knows the using is just a symptom. We can’t fix the symptom without fixing what causes it.

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