98 Comments

Thank god for beloveds like Lauren.

Expand full comment

This is a searingly great piece of writing.

Expand full comment

Uh, I mean "I Am Going To Ruin You, My Nemesis" or whatever etc and so forth.

But today, let's put that aside and agree you absolutely nailed this piece.

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2023·edited Oct 24, 2023Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Funny, cuz when you wrote "I love the search," I thought you meant about getting high, because the search, and the unexpected is also often one of the components of addiction—the thing that delivers an extra surprise kick—but weed is so easy to get that I imagine there wasn't much of a search involved, and so, no search, and no surprise there.

Although these days the line goes that addiction is the opposite of connection, or caused by a chronic lack of connection, if we follow that back looking for the source, the lack of connection is how our culture works, and so 'the reason' why so many of us have addictive tendencies or addictive stages of life or, like me, much-of-lives devoted to chasing booze, cigarettes, porn, speed, kinky sex, "investing," mostly very lonely travel trips, and shopping, etc. (I'm sure I forget a few in the list)—oh yeah, social media, of course, is... our culture itself. A giant, very unsatisfying machine that we, ourselves, in a very fucked-up way, designed, unconsciously, and that renders us slavering for the latest TCHV edible, a double hit of Molly delivered with a tongue up the ass, a weekend psychedelic ceremony led by some shaman named Scott from Santa Monica, or even a trip to Vegas—anything to distract for a moment.

I used to think I wasn't addicted to anything, and also that one can't get addicted to weed because it's not addictive, but my views about addiction have shifted to a more psychological perspective, where it's kinda possible to get addicted to just about anything. Not saying it's not a good idea to stop using the thing, as you and I both have, but, and, one perspective among many others that helped me is Adi Jaffe's book The Abstinence Myth, which really crystallized the fact that the substance isn't the egg; of course, it's our own selves (and the culture around us). His thinking draws a lot on Stanton Peele's Love and Addiction, which is also pretty nifty.

because I'm shameless like you, I'll share that I interviewed Adi Jaffe here:

https://bowendwelle.substack.com/p/e18-unhooked-and-connected-with-dr

...and I've written a lot about my own addictions, although with less Starbucks, e.g.

A Five Minute Love Affair with Natural Wine

https://open.substack.com/pub/bowendwelle/p/a-five-minute-love-affair-with-natural

and -- Sex is Better Sober!

https://open.substack.com/pub/bowendwelle/p/sex-is-better-sober

and you almost stole my title! My book is called An Ordinary Disaster!

Good on ya Alex. I remember reading this when you first posted it, and it was worth reading again. Glad you cleaned up too , at least with the dab, I tried that shit once and jesus man, I was high for a week!

Expand full comment

Adi Jaffe is fascinating! i completely agree with his approach to recovery, that you can't start it until you're ready to start. i remember listening to a podcast episode where he says he sees clients who haven't 'quit' whatever it is they're trying to 'quit' yet, because you can't dole out ultimatums off the bat, you have to meet them where they are.

Expand full comment

Glad you know the name! His little book is great, and he led me to Stanton Peele, who AFAICT is really the originator of the modern lens on addiction.

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2023Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

So so so so so SO GOOD. The stream of consciousness writing captures that high macromicro energy perfectly. Glad you got sober and it’s bringing you good things. I’ve got 18 months & 2 weeks myself and man it’s the best thing I ever did. And absolutely agreed with god is the search. Continually trying to fill that god-sized hole really got exhausting. Cheers to you 💕

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2023·edited Oct 24, 2023Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Wow. What an incredible journey. It was painful to read, and I felt for Lauren. Here's a stranger saying I'm proud of you and thank you for sharing your journey.

Do you feel you could offer any advice for conversation starters for those of us in Lauren's position with loved ones or friends?

Expand full comment
founding

Alanon, a life saver, you can find in person or zoom meetings, any time of day anywhere in the world. Feel free to email me if you are interested.

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2023·edited Oct 24, 2023Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Thank you! I'm aware of these resources- I was looking for the author's perspective as an addict and what conversations friends and loved ones can have, if any. :)

Expand full comment

“Two birds, one stoned.” 🐦🤣

Expand full comment

Yes, this!

Expand full comment
founding

You know how much I love your honesty, and I am really glad you reposted this, even though I also know how hard it can be to put yourself out there in this fashion. Thanks again for just being you and absolutely good enough.

Expand full comment

No words, Alex. Just such a good essay. Thank you.

Expand full comment

+1 and thinking of how much you've given to your loved ones by becoming sober. Thank you for doing that!

I'm married to a "sober alcoholic" (as he likes to call himself) who stopped drinking in 2011. I'm very thankful.

Expand full comment

Heavy, honest, raw. Thank you for this Alex. Your writing is truly exceptional, and the fact that you share yourself here is a gift.

Expand full comment

When I had a near death experience from an ectopic pregnancy, I heard a voice say “Nothing matters and Everything matters.” And I felt such a feeling of delight and awe.

Expand full comment

This is the essay that made me a BAT head. Got me hooked. you could say...wait.

Expand full comment

Brutal and beautiful

Sometimes I think this phone

Is my dab pen

How much shit

Can I funnel inside me

To get what I want

To squeeze itself outside of me

Expand full comment

Thank you, for helping me understand someone I love very much.

Expand full comment

War stories in sober rooms get so tired and boring. I’d have paid for this one. Wait, I did. ☺️

Expand full comment

Asking “WHY?” in an aggressive tone that makes it clear you already know the answer and the person you’re talking to already knows the answer but nobody better say it out loud or I’ll only say again, louder and angrier “WHY?”

That’s some denial I can relate to. It almost becomes a threat. A declaration that it must be a mystery, at any cost, because the obvious answer hurts too much.

Expand full comment

I love drugs. Man, if I could get microdose stuff or molly I would be all over it.

But my brain is so quick to lose equilibrium so I can have a pile of weed & not take it, even though it's so nice. Or pills. I have so many drugs in my house I don't take.

I also don't drink.

I also don't eat candy.

Many kinds of substances kind of scare me now.

But this is from having a roller coaster brain. I had this way before drugs. 24/7 mental torment. Plus the brain on fire thing where you just figure things out constantly and write and write and write. (The upside.) Starting from childhood.

So periodically as an adult I would use drugs as a lil vacation from the roller coaster.

But then one day I went in to some kind of miraculous remission. How? I don't know. After a lifetime of roller coaster brain I was normal for months.

After losing remission and having lower tolerance for my chaotic journey I did the same thing with substance as vacay. But I really wanted another remission. I would rather be mellow than anything else. Unfortunately, I discovered over time I can only get remission if I treat my brain like a box of TNT while riding a camel through the Andes mountains. I cannot let one jostle throw anything off. So no weed.

Weed even in small quantities is inexplicably a major jostle. . It takes a little while for it to throw me off but everything gets wonky pretty quick and the reset doesn't happen. Ever.

It took years before I saw this effect was invariable and there's no beating the system. The neurotransmitters just don't play along with my periodic desire for euphoric moments.

It's weird maybe but I just can't believe how great it is to just be even for a period of time. And I still am creative etc. The emotions are always heightened because that's how I roll but the angst & sturm & drang don't plague me.

Being ordinary and grounded for periods is a trip. Not as good as an LSD trip but maybe more sustainable.

There's a kind of joy that my brain can make but only off substances. I don't think substances give quite the same joy. They dampen something or re-direct it and I get why people like the redirection but I want the other kind of joy & it's so rare and good -- like a native plant you only get in the desert in the El Nino years. So I generally wait for that instead of popping in a bunch of colorful invasive species & crowding it out.

Expand full comment