Step One

Today I “read out my Step one”, to use 12 Steps parlance. It’s a big milestone for addicts.

In everyday language, that means I spent three hours at my sponsor’s house, reading out my answers to questions from Step one in a book called the NA Step Working Guide.

I like Russell Brand’s version of Step one – we admitted we’re a bit fucked and need some help. That certainly applies to me.

I’ve written my answers gradually over the last two months. There was a lot of procrastination and maybe a touch of fear. I’d been a bit worried I’d get into an intellectual debate with my sponsor, which was the last thing I wanted. I’m comfortable with my beliefs and don’t want someone to try to fill my head with dogma or unsolicited advice.

Thankfully that didn’t happen. We shared our own experiences and opinions very honestly. And today has actually been really enjoyable. I’m glad I did it. I get on well with my sponsor and I’m grateful to him for giving his time to help me so freely.

And so now it’s on to Step two…

But fortunately I think I’ve done most of the hard work for that already, especially around my personal concept of God / Higher Power.

Bring it on!

Self Will vs God’s Will

At my 12 Steps meeting last night, we each shared our thoughts about Step 3.

Step 3 of the 12 Steps states:

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

It was really interesting to hear other people’s interpretations of what this step means.

For a lot of people, the use of the word “God” is problematic. I agree – for me it’s a significant intellectual hurdle.

As I progress on my 12 Steps journey, I’m constantly trying to walk a fine line of incorporating 12 Steps ideas into my set of beliefs, but without selling out or fooling myself into accepting ideas which, in my heart, I know I can’t accept.

Here are a couple of interpretations of Step 3 which I liked (I’m paraphrasing):

  1. It’s about learning to do the right thing, as opposed to indulging our impulses.
  2. It’s about learning to think of others, being self-less, rather than always thinking about ourselves and our own interests.

Both of those interpretations remind me of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Rule 7:

Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

In other words, do the right thing, rather than merely what’s fun, easy, interesting, or in your own self-interest.

That reminds me, I wrote a post about “doing the right thing” a few weeks ago.

12 Steps Without God

In previous blog posts, I’ve explored different ideas about what God might be (according to my own personal understanding).

Most recently I settled on a definition of God that’s something like this:

“God is something like the combination of 2 things:
1) The divine spark which resides in each of us – our potential for greatness;
2) The power of the community of people at 12 Steps meetings.

Bollinger, R. (2019)

… Buuuuut… I have to admit, in the last week I’ve really been losing faith.

I’m now finding it hard to believe in any kind of God at all, even one as loosely and generously defined as above.

It’s not God that got me where I am today, it’s me.

Does that make me arrogant? Does that make me full of self-will? These questions genuinely trouble me.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t think I’ve got everything figured out. Not by a long shot. Every single day I learn something new in my 12 Steps journey.

I’m trying hard to always be open-minded and humble. I want to always be ready to admit I may have been wrong about something. I want to learn from everyone I talk to.

But that doesn’t mean I have to believe in any form of God, does it? He just seems superfluous.

I believe in me… my ability to learn and change and grow.

I really hope that doesn’t make me arrogant. Personally, I find it empowering.

It reminds me that I’m not a useless, broken, unworthy soul. It reminds me that I am capable of greatness… if I put in the hard work.


The Crazy Brain of a Drug Addict

My brain went to some strange places as I lay in bed last night.

It took over two hours for me to get to sleep… my mind raced thanks to a combination of strong coffee and fasting.

I thought mainly about my drug of choice (DXM) and how much I loved it. That drug filled me with joy, enhanced my appreciation of music and conjured up enjoyable hallucinations. Best of all, it made my life feel worth living.

I fantasised about being able to “use successfully” in the future. In other words, in moderation and without any damaging consequences.

Before I knew it, last night I was making plans for when I’d next take DXM. The main complication: I’d have to convince my wife to agree to me taking drugs.

Here’s a quick recap on some of my low points with drugs:

  • A few years ago, my wife and I separated temporarily, partly due to me hiding my drug problem.
  • The comedown from multi-day drug binges has brought me close to suicide several times.
  • I’ve been hospitalised due to drug misadventures 3 or 4 times.
  • After the last time I took DXM in mid-August, I was diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis which lasted for several weeks.
  • A few years ago, after one particularly heavy multi-day drug binge, my cognitive functioning was significantly impaired for several weeks. I could barely hold conversations. Even playing videogames felt too overwhelming. We weren’t sure if the damaging effects would be permanent – luckily they weren’t. My wife and mother in law slowly nursed me back to health.
  • My drug use has directly led to the destruction of several close friendships. Most of them still refuse to talk to me.
  • Oh and my mum was an alcoholic. She was in denial right up until she died… in her 50s, way too young. I don’t particularly want to follow in her footsteps.

After all that trouble, you’d be forgiven for finding it difficult to understand why I still wanted to take drugs.

People in a 12 Steps fellowship might say that my disease wants me dead. A more scientific explanation might be that in certain situations, I exhibit poor judgement and decision-making abilities… an inability to correctly weigh up pros and cons.


Last night, I realised my wife was unlikely to agree to me taking DXM again.

“That’s OK,” I thought to myself, “Just don’t tell her. In fact, you can buy some DXM tomorrow morning and get wasted. She’ll never know.”

For a few moments, that seemed like a truly brilliant idea.

And then, reality hit. What the fuck was I thinking?

Suddenly, it made perfect sense why some people anthropomorphise the disease of addiction. What sane person would possibly think this way? It must be the result of a demon, some conscious supernatural entity disguised in the shape of a disease.


Several months ago, inspired by Dr Jordan Peterson, I decided I wanted to “tell the truth, or at least don’t lie.” I could see the virtue in being as honest and truthful as possible.

I have committed to my wife that I will always tell her the truth. I won’t hide things from her, especially anything related to drugs.

Last night, I “played the tape forward” in my mind. What would happen if I got wasted on DXM?

Well, I’d tell my wife afterwards. She’d be extremely disappointed. I’d ruin the trust I’ve been working hard to rebuild. There’s a good chance she’d leave me and kick me out of our house.

My marriage: ruined.

My self-respect: in tatters.

Worth it? Well, you might find this hard to believe, but last night my brain was still trying to convince me that taking DXM again would be worth these costs.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Until this point, I’d been feeling giddy with excitement and anticipation at the thought of getting wasted again. Now, that feeling faded and was replaced with a deep sadness.

I get it now. Finally.

For a few brief moments, I’d been willing to put drugs ahead of my health and my marriage. Thankfully sanity prevailed.

I was reminded of the stages of grief, one of which is “bargaining”. I’d been trying to negotiate with myself to allow me to keep on taking drugs. But that new sense of sadness… that was “acceptance”.

I can’t take drugs again. Ever.

Even if I occasionally get the urge, my wife won’t agree to it. And I’m simply not going to betray her trust again.

I’m a cat who used up his nine lives many years ago. I don’t quite know how I’m still here. I have so many good things in my life, which I’m not sure I deserve after how I’ve behaved in the past.

Many other people in my situation would be divorced, homeless or even dead.

I’m fucking lucky.

Maybe this is what 12 Steps fellowships mean by “surrender” and “powerlessness”. I can’t take drugs any more. I accept that.

I’m guessing that every now and then I may need reminding of that fact. That’s why I have a sponsor. And it’s a good job I’ve committed myself to being honest too.

So, this has been a narrow escape, again. But at least I feel proud that I’ve made the right choice.

Today marks exactly 90 Days of me being clean from drugs. What a day!

F-You, 12 Steps

I both love and hate the 12 Steps.

After quitting the fellowship yesterday (“for good, this time!”), I went to another meeting tonight (again). And it was great, I loved it.

But there’s so much of the dogma and culture which I fucking hate. There are certain things I simply will not subscribe to, certain things I cannot bring myself to say.

I’m not going to mould myself into a starry-eyed 12 Step believer. I can’t fool myself into doing that.

But here’s what I love:

12 Steps is a community of (fucking crazy) people with a common problem, coming together to support and help each other.

And THAT is fucking golden. I just need to find ways of dealing with the rest of the 12 Steps annoying bollocks.

[Note: forgive my swearing, I’ve been fasting today and recently had a strong coffee. It’s having approximately triple the usual effect.]

Things I HATE About the 12 Steps

No, I will not admit I was powerless over my addiction. Tomorrow I won’t have used for 90 days – how the fuck is that powerless?

There is no God or Higher Power. It’s all me, baby. Call me arrogant or conceited, I don’t give a fuck. I got myself to this point, not God.

No, I’m not going to “surrender” or “have faith”. That’s an abdication of my intellectual capabilities. I can and will figure this stuff out, for myself. I will find my own idiosyncratic take on the 12 Steps which works for me. I don’t need to swallow someone else’s generic version, no matter how well-intended.

Most of the “stepwork” involved in the 12 Steps strikes me as mere busy-work. It’s something for addicts to aim towards which will give them a feeling of purpose in their lives.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of value to be extracted from doing the 12 Steps – it makes you into a better person. But it’s not the only way to get a feeling of meaning and purpose in one’s life. And it frustrates the fuck out of me that 12 Steps acts like some kind of religion or cult in this regard.

No, my disease doesn’t talk to me and it doesn’t want me dead. Diseases don’t have personalities.

I don’t even think it’s scientifically accurate to consider addiction as a disease (like 12 Steps insists). I’m certainly not broken. I’m just someone with a drug problem which got out of control. I can and will learn how to get it under control.

I don’t even think I’m an addict. Yes, I’ve done some fucked up shit that’s related to drugs. But I can also go months at a time without using. And most of the time when I used, I fucking loved it – it made my life better. That puts me a fair distance away from the heroin junkies who used every day, against their will, and didn’t even fucking like it.


Anyway, I kinda feel like I’m running out of steam now. The caffeine is wearing off.

There are plenty of other things I dislike about the 12 Steps. But for now, I’m prepared to simply ignore them.

I get a lot out of the social aspects of 12 Steps. It’s helping me to become a better person.

I just don’t need to swallow everything 12 Steps proclaims.

What’s Your Intention?

Is your past holding you back? Here’s how to get over it and move on with your life.


I’m a huge fan of Richard Grannon AKA Spartan Lifecoach. He really knows his stuff (coaching and psychology).

And just check out the production quality on this video… all shot on an iPhone!

Artie Lange: Why He Won’t Say He’ll Never Get High Again


Just For Today

I like Artie’s approach, which comes from the 12 Steps. I don’t have to worry about staying off drugs for the rest of my life… I just have to stay clean for today.

Artie says how he loved the feeling of being out of control. I can really relate to that… I wanted to know where boundaries and limits were… so I could smash straight through them!

It’s also refreshing to hear him admit openly how much he loved drugs. I hear lots of stories about people whose lives were absolutely miserable due to drugs. But it wasn’t really like that for me.

Sure, I had the occasional low point and a few hospitalisations, but for the most part I fucking loved getting high. And it’s a relief to be able to say that openly.

Artie’s right, this attitude is both honest and it takes the pressure off.

Just For Today.

Where I am Today

So much has been changing for me recently. On certain matters it feels like I change my mind daily. But far from feeling uncertain or adrift, I’m feeling confident that I’m on the right path.

I thought it might be useful briefly to recap where I am today and some of my beliefs. These are subject to change and revision!


I’ve started reading about the work of psychologist Carl Jung – it’s fascinating. Many of his ideas seem to chime with intuitions or part-formed ideas I’ve been mulling over recently.

We each hold a divine spark within ourselves, in our unconscious mind. Some people can go their whole lives without realising it’s there. But others of us, myself included, keep getting hints and fleeting connections with our inner divinity.

This divine spark is potentially God-like. It’s like a physical embodiment of what we’re all capable of. It’s pointing the way to being the very best me.

Now, when I think of God, I’m referring to this God-like potential inside myself, this little slice of heaven.

One way (maybe the best way) we can get in touch with the God inside us is through meditation. When we’re still and pay attention… we can start to feel a deep inner peace. We “wake up” in a very real sense.

I now view meditation as an essential part of my spiritual journey.

In mid-August, I took a huge quantity of DXM. I refer to the following 2-3 weeks as a Spiritual Awakening. Chemically, something happened inside my brain which enabled me to become more closely in touch with my unconscious mind, including the spark of God or Higher Power within me.

My Spiritual Awakening isn’t just a singular moment in time. It’s an ongoing process. Every day, I’m waking up more. There’s also a tight correlation with another kind of waking up… every time I bring my conscious awareness back to the present moment (i.e. being mindful), that’s another form of waking up.

Through these two forms of waking, I’m getting closer to the real me and also the me that I’m capable of becoming – the best version of myself.

I’m now thinking that this true purpose of life… or at least the true purpose of my life. It’s to manifest the divine spark within me as much as possible in my everyday life. It’s to become Holy – the best version of me possible.

This won’t happen overnight. It’s a daily process, requiring continual effort.

I will make mistakes, I will forget things and need to re-learn them. I’m embracing a model of “two steps forward and one step back.” In other words, I’m being kind and patient with myself. I’m not going to quit just because things don’t seem to be working so well on a particular day.

I still have some reservations and reluctance regarding the official 12 Steps and the associated “stepwork”. I really dislike dogma – it’s necessary to be generic in order to deliver teachings in a way that’s suitable for the masses. But I am not the masses.

I’m determined to keep thinking critically and keep integrating the 12 Steps teachings in ways which resonate deeply with my other beliefs. I’m not just going to accept things on blind faith – that’s simply not who I am. I would be insulting my inner divinity by uncritically accepting everything I’m told.

I do have a “self”, but it’s not constant. In fact, in my case, it seems to change more frequently and more radically than most people’s. I don;t see that as a weakness, I see it as a strength.

I think of my sense of self as like an eddy in a stream. Over time, it may appear to hold a mostly consistent form, but it’s also ever-changing in many small ways.

Having a loose sense of self makes it easier for me to ignore my ego, which often just gets in the way of my spiritual development. It’s important for me to stay humble and open-minded, willing to re-evaluate my thinking at any point in time.

I don’t need to be right all the time. It’s far more important for me to be kind, both to myself and to others.

I want to embody the spiritual principles of Truth, Love, Courage and Humility in everything that I do. Again, I don’t expect to be perfect. I will make mistakes. But these mistakes are necessary and I’ll welcome them. Every “mistake” is an opportunity for learning.

I’m going to keep building the gap between stimulus and response in my own mind. I’ll do this through a daily meditation practice. This will have a huge effect on reducing any feelings of anxiety, depression or addiction. In essence, I’ll become free.

I’ll take personal responsibility for my life. I’ll pray for guidance on how best to do this. When I pray, I’m praying to the inner God-like potential that lives in my unconscious.

I’ll use the Serenity Prayer – this seems to embody the concept of personal responsibility.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer

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