I once thought that if I was going to be successful at staying sober long term, I would have to join Alcoholics Anonymous and work the 12 steps, but as I near the beginning of my 7th-year alcohol- free, I have found that following my own path has meant that rather than “living in recovery” from my addiction I am celebrating DISCOVERY. Living alcohol-free has been an adventure that continues to become more interesting each year. There are many ways to approach stopping drinking without following the traditional 12 steps of AA- and there are many ways to understand recovery from addiction. It’s all about the power of your mind and the power of possibility. Overcoming cognitive dissonance and celebrating neuroplasticity.
Today I spent a really enjoyable hour talking with AZ Drifter from the Sobertown podcast about the power of possibility. We talked about his experience with long term sobriety, relapse, the 12 steps, and the role that eventually understanding cognitive dissonance and neuroplasticity played in his staying alcohol-free. And we talked about my perspective of sobriety as celebrating the power of possibility, or neuroplasticity in action.
You can open the podcast here: EP 206 Neuroplasticity . BOOM Rethink the Drink -Wingy
Neuroplasticity has fascinated me since I read Marc Lewis’ book The Biology of Desire when I was 8 months sober. It was the last of many books that I read that year on the topic of addiction and recovery. One of the interesting things about Marc’s book was that unlike the other books I had been reading it did not help me stop drinking, or inspire me to stay sober, but rather explained the awesome, unexpected growth that I was experiencing in recovery. It explained why my recovery felt quite a bit more like an adventure than a chore. Not recovery – discovery!
The Biology of Desire, examines how our brains can evolve and change if we break the isolation of addiction by reaching out creatively to evolve. It offers positive reflections of the experience that people can have by connecting with generosity of spirit rather than retreating in resentment when they stop using drugs and alcohol to numb out. As I read the book, rather than imagining the possibility of what Marc was describing, I recognized my experience in his words. I responded YES! That is exactly what’s happening right now! My brain was growing and evolving as I wrote my way sober in a creative community, and Marc explained how that was happening through the science of neuroplasticity.
If you are interested in the topic of neuroplasticity in addiction recovery
From Marc Lewis’s blog – Befriending the part that wants to get high and Meditation and IFS: similar places, different paths
From our Boozemusings Blog on Marc Lewis and neuroplasticity : My Beautiful Mind at 1,000 days Sober and How I Became Alcohol-Free – Thoughts on Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis and Programme Your Computer Brain to Stay Sober
More thoughts from AZ Drifter of Sobertown on Addiction Recovery, Cognitive Dissonance and the Addict Voice
Hello Sober Warriors!
Welcome to the Arena! When we entered those gates we became Sober Warriors! This is where we draw the line, where we make our stand, where we take our lives back! The only requirement is a desire to change!
Our enemy is the Addict Voice. It lives in our minds and it knows all the tricks of the trade! It will Romanticize us, Manipulate us, Confuse us and try to destroy us. It knows our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors. It even controls our desires. It will trick us and deceive us. And all it wants is one sip, one slip, one drink, one mistake. It’s cunning, baffling and insidious!!
The Arena is your mind! This is where we train and where we fight! Our weapons of war will be Knowledge, Fortitude, Steadfastness, Endurance, Connections and Community. This is where we’ll learn the tricks of our enemy to defeat it, to squash it, to cage it and to silence it. Unfortunately, the addict voice never dies, but it can be caged and it can be silenced!
These battles are real, intense and life or death at times.
The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis is a great book to learn what your addict brain is doing to you. It’s a huge tool to help you take your life back!
The Man in the Arena
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
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