Further Reading

Please help me quit crack addiction!

What steps do I take to triumph over a crack addiction without conforming to the philosophy and theology of AA or NA?

You have given me a tough task. You have told me nothing about you addiction and yourself, and yet ask for my help. If I told you I could solve a virulent addiction with one E-mail, I would be perpetrating a fraud.

But you ask two questions: (1) Can you lick a drug addiction without a 12-step program? and (2) What are the steps to overcome addiction? The answer to the first question is "yes." Most people do it without AA or NA.

If you're a reading man, you can look at the book Cocaine Changes by Dan Waldorf, Craig Reinerman and Sheilagh Murphy (see my article, "Cocaine and the concept of addiction"). These authors describe people who gave up crack addictions without treatment, because other things were more important for them.

Here are the steps involved in overcoming an addiction (see my book, The Truth About Addiction and Recovery).

  1. Think about your values, what is important to you. You have to emphasize in your mind the real reasons you want to quit. Are you concerned about your health? Your looks? Your family or girlfriend? Your standing in the community? Your self-respect? Concentrate on a different you and how this person would live and relate to the world, and how others would see this new you.
  2. We should appreciate your strengths and accomplishments. What are your best assets? What have you accomplished that you are most proud of? Have you quit any other addictions or bad habits? How did you do it that time?
  3. There may be important gaps in your strengths and skills. You need to be able to form personal relationships, to have love and friends. To do this you need to communicate what you want without harassing people or being too needy. Do you get too angry or become violent when you're angry? Can you make reasonable requests of others without embarrassment? You can learn such communication skills, if you don't have them. You should learn them.
  4. How are your work skills? Do you have reasonable job that you carry out successfully? There are various ways to learn such skills, like enrolling in classes or job training.
  5. What do you get from crack? Does it energize you, make you feel strong or powerful, make you happy? How else can you get these feelings? Of course, other methods are going to be slower and tougher, and sometimes they fail to get you the feelings you want. But feelings of strength and happiness you gain from your own efforts and activities are real, and stay with you.
  6. Think beyond yourself. Are there any people you make happy, or help? Are there groups you can contribute to in your community, like your church? Can you assist older or younger people, or help clean up a park? Adults think beyond themselves. Paradoxically, thinking beyond yourself can give your life meaning and help you deal with your own problems.

As you can see, to overcome addiction you have to deal with the entire structure of your life -- your social life, your work life, your spare time. It's a lot of work. But you just made me do a lot of work to put this mail together. I hope you can do as much work on your own behalf.

Best regards, Stanton