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!

Contacting Lord British

Richard Garriott (AKA Lord British) is a legendary videogame developer, responsible for the beloved Ultima series, amongst others.

Ultima IV holds a special place in my heart. The player aims to become a paragon of virtue, known as The Avatar. That’s where the subtitle for this blog comes from – Quest of the Avatar.

Ultima IV, Sega Master System version.

I really like the system of spiritual principles and virtues contained in Ultima IV. The 3 main principles are Truth, Love and Courage.

These 3 principles are not just a cool videogame idea, I think they’re actually a pretty solid foundation for a real-life religion! It’s been over 2 months since my Spiritual Awakening and I’ve been thinking lots about how to apply Truth, Love and Courage in my own life.

I was interested to find out Richard Garriott’s views on TLC and whether he’d considered using them in the real world.

I’ve contacted a few heroes before – book authors, videogame designers and favourite musicians. And I’ve heard back from my heroes more often than not.

I remember meeting George R R Martin (author of the Game of Thrones books) with a friend at a book signing. I was utterly star-struck and couldn’t think of any good questions to ask him, but luckily my friend did.

It’s such a cool feeling to form a personal connection with someone I respect and admire, whose work has made my life better in some small way.

So, I messaged Richard Garriott, thinking he’s probably far too famous and busy to respond to my silly questions…

Hi Richard! Thank you for bringing the Ultima series of games to the world. I have especially fond memories of IV and VII. I’m also interested in applying the principles and virtues of The Avatar to my own life. Truth, Courage and Love seem like great principles to live by. I was wondering if they are important to you in your own life? Have you ever considered starting your own religion, based on The Avatar?!

Bollinger, R. (2019), writing to Richard Garriott

He wrote back, within a few hours!

Thanks for the kind note!
I too have pondered these same questions.
I work hard and did lots of research to arrive at T/L/C, and do expect to write more on the subject directly… 
Where and how much, to be determined.

Garriott, R. (2019), legendary game developer.

He’s expecting to write more?! That means he’s already written something about the real-world applications of TLC! I guess I’ll have to check out his recent autobiography, though I’d be surprised to find more than a paragraph or two.

How exciting! It seems that TLC forms the basis of several existing world religions… And I suspect that if Lord British were to create his own real-world religion, he’d have almost as many followers as those who self-identify as a Jedi!

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Do I Believe in God?

Interesting question.

My good friend Life Coach Tim Brownson told me he was surprised that I seem to have gone from being atheist, to agnostic, to Christian, all within the space of a few weeks.

I can understand why Tim thinks that, especially as he won’t have had time to read every single blog post I’ve made over the last few weeks, averaging several per day.

But the weird thing is, he’s only partly right.

Jordan Peterson has famously been quite evasive when he’s been asked about his religious beliefs.

“Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘believe’ and what you mean by ‘God’…”

– Jordan Peterson (I’m paraphrasing)

The more cynical amongst you might see that as him just dodging the question. But I really don’t think he is. If there’s one thing Jordan Peterson is, it’s honest.

“… But I act as though He exists.”

– Also Jordan Peterson

This might seem like a strange distinction for Jordan to make. But actually, I think I understand where he’s coming from.

Previously, I’ve blogged here, here and here about what I now believe. If you’ve been following my blog closely, then you’ll already have a good idea of my religious views.

But for everyone else, here’s the deal…

The Big Reveal

As I alluded to here, I have a highly flexible belief system which incorporates ideas from Atheism (Science), Spirituality, and Christianity. I amend my beliefs according to the context. My aim is to choose whatever belief seems to have the most utility (benefit) at any given moment.

Bollinger, R. (2019)

This way of thinking might seem utterly preposterous to most people. How can I believe one thing, then 10 seconds later believe the opposite?! Many of my beliefs appear to be paradoxical or mutually exclusive.

As I discussed here, I don’t believe human beings evolved primarily to perceive the world accurately. Sometimes we do, sometimes we really don’t.

Rather, we evolved to perceive the world in ways which are beneficial for our survival. Sometimes that aligns with objective reality, other times it doesn’t.

In other words, sometimes us humans delude ourselves because it’s beneficial for our survival.

That may sound like heresy, but I really do think it’s true. If you’re a truth-seeking philosopher, this concept can be a difficult one to grapple with. However, I’m now fully comfortable with it.

I also aim to be humble and open-minded. If new evidence comes along which disproves my current beliefs, either wholly or in part, then I will reject my former beliefs and go where the evidence leads. This is the essence of the scientific method and being a good scientist.

What do you think? Does all the above make sense?

Is there anyone else out there who has reached similar conclusions to me?!

Will I get kicked out of the churches of Atheism, Spirituality or Christianity for holding such paradoxical and heretical beliefs?

Time will tell.

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No, I haven’t taken drugs. But I have been abusing sugar.

At 12 Steps meetings, you get different coloured keyrings depending on how long you’ve been “Clean and Serene”. At the moment I have only the first keyring, which is white and represents that I’ve been clean “Just For Today”.

I really like the keyring system because it serves as a visual reminder of how long you’ve been clean… and how much you’d be throwing away if you used again.

The next keyring for me would be (I think) the orange one, which represents being Clean and Serene for 30 days. I’ve just looked at my calendar to see when that would be for me. It’s tomorrow (12/09/2019).

At least, that would be 30 days from the last time I took my drug of choice, DXM.

But, as I explained here, I also have a secondary addiction – to sugar. I use sugar as a substitute for DXM. I tell myself it’s more socially acceptable. It also seems to most people like it’s less harmful than drugs, though knowing something about the science behind nutrition and the harmful effects of sugar, that may not actually be the case.

I’ll be honest with you, I feel utterly pathetic admitting I have a problem with sugar. As an ex-heroin addict used to say to me, “It’s not very rock’n’roll, is it?”

I’m probably more ashamed of my sugar addiction than I am of my DXM one.

What kind of idiot can’t control their sugar intake? Me.

So, what counts as a relapse? I’ve been asking myself that question quite a lot recently. I’m keen to get my orange 30-day keyring, so I wanted to say that only DXM usage counted as a relapse.

But, I think it’s absolutely vital for me to be honest with myself. Truth is a core Spiritual principle and a big part of 12 Steps.

I can tell when I’m abusing sugar as an addict, as a substitute for DXM.

And each time I do that, I really ought to be counting it as a relapse. The feelings I have inside with sugar binges – they’re exactly like other forms of addiction.

Various addictions may look very different on the surface, but at their core, I believe they all look very similar.

If I’m honest, I’ve relapsed two days in a row.

On Monday night I bought a tub of ice cream. I told myself I’d only eat half of it that night. You see, I’m trying to cut down. Not that long ago I’d regularly smash 2 or sometimes even 3 tubs of ice cream in one evening.

But I couldn’t stop myself. I ended up eating the entire tub even though I’d told myself I’d only have half. That’s the disease of addiction, the lack of self control.

And then last night, on the way home from a wonderful 12 Steps meeting, I bought a McDonald’s milkshake. It’s basically semi-melted ice cream which is absolutely rammed with sugar. I even caved and bought a large one because it was only 20p more. That’s the addict in me, no self-control.

On the mornings following each of these relapses, I felt awful. Partly it’s the physical after-effects of consuming gigantic quantities of sugar. Partly it’s the shame of knowing I’d let myself down. Again.

Where Now?

It’s a mistake for me to think it’s OK to abuse sugar as long as I’m staying away from DXM.

I can tell from the way I feel inside that both cravings are, at source, the same. It’s all the disease of addiction.

It feels like addiction is a nest of vipers inside my chest, squirming away. They can tell that as long as I keep doing the 12 Steps, their days are numbered. And they are absolutely desperate to find any way possible to keep me using… DXM, sugar… anything.

So, yesterday I relapsed…

… that makes today Day 1 again, the first day of me being “Clean and Serene”.

Sorry 30-day orange keyring, you’re gonna have to wait a bit longer for me to reach you.

Last night I had a series of painful, depressing dreams.

There’s a lot of shit from my past I need to face. My dreams were reminding me of that.

There’s a lot of pain from the past which I need to process. I need to heal from it, eventually.

Drugs (or sugar) aren’t the answer to the long-standing pain which I’ve been stuffing down inside myself. It’s Recovery through the 12 Steps that’s the answer I’ve been looking for.

As I mentioned in my post “Significant Dates”, maybe today (11/09/2019) is turning out to be pretty significant after all. At least, it is to me.

I’ll be praying to God / My Higher Power for strength and guidance.

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Serenity Prayer

As it’s Sunday, it feels appropriate to post a prayer. This is the Serenity Prayer and it’s commonly used at 12 Steps fellowship meetings.

It’s really powerful and, as its name suggests, helps me to feel a great sense of peace. It reminds me to let go of my desire to try to change things which are (almost entirely) outside of my control.

That doesn’t absolve me of all responsibility, however. I’m not a helpless victim. I must still have the Courage to change the things which are within my control.

Serenity Prayer

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BoJo and the Truth

[Warning: this post is about politics. If that’s not your thing, please ignore this post. If you choose to respond, please be civil and be careful about any assumptions you make about me or my beliefs.]

Generally, I think of myself as a left-leaning liberal. But I don’t tie my loyalty to any political party. Rather, I’m interested only in good ideas. So, some of my political views could be characterised as Conservative.

I guess I’m like roughly 80% of the population: moderate, centrist, and kinda disgusted by the extremes of both the far right and the far left.

I’ll be brave and publicly declare: I really like Boris Johnson (BoJo).

He is very clever, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and has some serious balls on him.

What I don’t like about Boris Johnson

The thing which really grates on me about Boris is his total disregard for the Truth. To him, the Truth is optional. What matters to Boris is how effectively he can spin a narrative in order to manipulate his fellow MPs and the public.

To a certain extent, I can’t fault Boris for being this way – after all, these skills make him a highly competent politician.

Call me old-fashioned, but there is great power in Truth. We disregard it at our peril. When we lie, it corrupts the fabric of our being, often in ways we don’t notice.

Lying is also disrespectful. It assumes we’re clever enough to fool others. Sometimes that may be true, but certainly not all the time. Sooner or later, liars develop a reputation for lying. And when they lose everyone’s trust, it’s game over.

My Hopes

Jordan Peterson has proved to me, beyond any doubt, that the best path is to tell the Truth (or at least don’t lie). I believe it’s perfectly possible to be both truthful and successful in politics, especially for someone as intelligent as Boris.

Maybe Boris isn’t ever going to be that person. Maybe he’ll always play with the truth like it’s some child’s game.

But I do hope that at some point in the near future, Great Britain gets a Prime Minister who has all the positive attributes of Boris, plus an unwavering dedication to the Truth.

That’s what a true leader would look like.

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Becoming a Man [or Woman] of Action

Are you living your life like an NPC (Non-Player Character)? Are you not really living your life’s purpose? Maybe you don’t even have any idea about what your life’s purpose might be?

Then watch this:

The above video from Universal Man (Mark Queppet) resonates strongly with the Truth.

“You have to be more bored than afraid [to be productive]”

Universal Man

I will be following this guy’s YouTube channel closely. If you’re on a similar journey to me, I recommend you do too.

Here are some of my current & former dopamine loops, plus what I’m doing about them:

  • Mindlessly browsing Facebook… -> I deleted my account months ago.
  • Mindlessly watching YouTube videos even if I’m not particularly interested in them… -> I’m now much more discerning, I try to watch only videos which feel meaningful.
  • Scrolling through Instagram looking at hot babes (testosterone AND dopamine loop)… -> Deleted my Instagram account months ago.
  • Wandering into the kitchen looking for food even if I wasn’t hungry… -> I now ask myself if I really want the food before I eat. Often I’m bored, not hungry.
  • Playing videogames (used to be my biggest hobby) -> I haven’t played games at all for about 3 weeks. I will still play them occasionally, but way less than before.
  • Visiting Reddit multiple times per day… -> I’m still trying to strike a balance here because lots of my Reddit use genuinely does feel meaningful.
  • Watching pr0n (wasn’t a big issue for me really) -> I almost never watch pr0n now.

What about you? What are your dopamine loops? How are you mindlessly distracting yourself and ruining your productivity? Let me know in the comments.

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