I had a history of using addictive mind altering substances over decades.
My introduction to class A narcotics came during a walk with a friend and his Irish setter on Richmond common in the summer of 1974. I was 20yrs old.
“You want to try this smack” he asked?
He was chasing the dragon.
Just the word Heroin from my very proper upbringing was terrifying.
“What you mean the Big H” I asked?
True to my nature and my total lack of understanding of my addictive nature I said.. “sure let’s try that” and for many hours after dreadfully sick.
However being what I am, I kept coming back and spent the next four decades off and on as a mostly functioning junky, or Heroin addict.
I rarely fixed and therefore never suffered overdoses and was reasonably controlled in my way of using.
I later in ANA was informed and came to realise that I had been…what was termed in recovery circles, “Duel Living” for decades, but when the car crashes came they were bigger and had more severe long lasting consequences.
Eventually I admitted defeat, I surrendered, this at this time was totally unknown unchartered territory in my personal makeup from way back, my addiction was bigger than me, was more powerful than me and all other things I had dealt with in my life. After a year in practical isolation drinking in a family house in Sussex country side, I finally surrendered.
With strong advice and even pleading from my dearest friends and my daughters, family, I admitted defeat and turned to help to my now friend who was running a Drug and Alcohol Dependency Unit for Sussex County Council and asked him to take me to a place of refuge, a place I was to come to know as one of the best long term result orientated Addiction Related Centres in Portsmouth, Hampshire, known as ANA.
Do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome…..The Classic Addict Syndrome.
ANA Portsmouth Formal 12 Step Recovery Centre
ANA is a 12 step based formal strict process driven Addiction Recovery Unit centred in Portsmouth.
After a year in practical isolation and spending two weeks in Pembury Hospital, almost dying of a stomach haemorrhage and missing my best friend in the worlds funeral, that of my mother, I was almost carried into the Farlington doors of ANA Primary Care Unit and entered a world of sounds, people, words, teachings and 12 steps, this was like arriving on an alien planet. A totally alien environment. Way outside any known comfort zones I had previously experienced.
I had an extreme first impression, feelings of abject loneliness, disconnection and social discomfort. I had never considered or been a willing party to any formal addiction related counselling process and significantly, in this case, a 12 step program.
I spent ten months in formal 1st, 2nd, 3rd stage ANA addiction recovery awareness program.
The ANA programs are run on a very defined, some might feel regimented set of daily guidelines, must attend diarised workshops. These include weekly reviews of progress, personal awareness sessions, intense daily counselling in a therapeutic peer group attended meetings, from fully trained time experienced counsellors, most of whom are recovering addicts themselves. Other focus areas are daily diaries, step work using the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Goals Groups setting attainable weekly goals and a week ending with an introduction to basic mindfulness, meditation techniques.
The ANA Program sets strict guidelines for timekeeping, personal and peer responsibility and mutual support and a set of clear boundaries to ensure peoples personal and group responsibilities, safety and adherence to a simple set of rules and decent inclusive kind human behaviour.
What did it do for me?
On leaving formal ANA support and Addiction Counselling and Treatment I felt I had undergone a form of, in my case definition, a mid life MOT of Mind Body and Soul.
The two greatest benefits apart from the fact I am now 30 months clean of any mind altering substances, is two fold.
I learned that for forty years I had not just been struggling with my self confessed love and reliance upon Class A narcotics but that most importantly of all I began to understand that I had a highly developed Addictive Personalist that was and had been in my life, the root cause of my lifetime of reliance on drugs, not the drugs or alcohol themselves.
Through counselling and study I began to understand that the addict within me was a very complicated and powerful force that I would hopefully, through good counsel, constant vigilance and new level of self awareness , manage constructively for the rest of my life.
The other great thing that I have learned, even at my age, is that any older dog, or indeed any person, can learn new tricks through deep investigation of my inner self, through counselling and openly sharing amongst fellow peers, I realised that I can be the most complex person to deal with and manage, but now with my adjusted thinking’s and new found understandings perspective of my real self, I generally lead a much more restful relaxed life with another huge benefit that I have gained, is the ability to get heavily into the practice and study of spiritual science, mindfulness and deeper meditation techniques. This is now where I find total peace and clarity of mind and thinking’s.
The four key basic principles of this recovery process are as follows…
Steps, Service, Sponsor and Sharing
And very hard work and an open mind and honesty.
This process is not easy, not for the faint hearted and requires a total commitment and personal honesty on behalf of the addict