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Don’t Be Such Addiction


i didn’t sleep last December. There was a lot going on.

That is what i told myself. I had 5 a.m. phone meetings 3 times a week with a sponsor in the States for one addiction, i was attending 3-4 AA meetings a week, working 35 hours, maintaining 6 blogs under 2 1/2 different personas, attending cultural events to write freelance journalist articles for 2 different web zines, spending time with my kids and new wife… I was too busy to sleep, so i dozed as few as 3 hours a night and cat napped whenever i could steal a spare 5 minutes. At the end of this experiment i fell asleep while talking to a client. My brain shut down in the middle of a sentence and i wondered what i was talking about when i reached the end.

On a normal work day, i make a pot of six cups of drip coffee to put in my travel mug and drink on my way to the office. Once there, i make a double espresso (instant) for my first meeting. i have another double espresso at 11 a.m. and another after lunch. Then another double at 4 p.m. i usually drink another 5 cups of filter coffee when i get home in the evening. For those of you too lazy to add, i drink between roughly 15-20 cups of coffee a day. This doesn’t include Coke Zeros.

i maintain 6 blogs, write short fiction, submit articles regularly to websites that publish about “Yeaman”, am trying to get the courage to begin rewriting a novel i finished a couple years ago and am revising a proposal for a nonfiction book. After getting home from work at around 6.30pm, i regularly stay locked in front of the computer until bed time, when i sit in bed and review movies i watch on my tablet. Because there is a God and he’s a geek, i have downloaded applications that permit me to write articles on my cell phone when i’m commuting to work and my tablet when i’m in bed. After the batteries die i have a notebook for articles, a smaller one for observations and another for notes while visiting cultural events.

Sleeplessness, caffeine, writing… You name it, i can find addiction in it. Fortunately, i was never one to experiment with hard drugs because even though i quit drinking, i can get addicted to absolutely anything. The argument could be made that in my early months of recovery, i was addicted to sobriety.

It all comes down to this:

My addictions define me, so i must choose them wisely.

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About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home. http://about.me/AlKHall

Posted on February 22, 2012, in Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. WHOA!!!! WHOA!!!! and more WHOA!!!! That last line. Holy shit! I get it, i dig it, i am it! Tag. I’m having some blog-clog now, and i’m trying to get my ass to the swimming pool to GET OUT.

    Never thought of addiction as my being and my choosing. But that is what i am about. I go to Extremes … (more billy joel lyrics coming to mind). Damn it! Who the fuck am i anyway? The flavor of the day?

    THIS IS SO TRUE, and i feel like: Cure, schmurr … pick the least deadly. OK.

  2. Wow. I’m exhausted just reading about what you do. Head is spinning and not from.alcohol. never did the hard drugs either but if alcohol was classified, in US it would be class one. That would make it a hard drug. So the fact that you are not using is huge.

  3. Man Folgers in your cup outta sponsor you! I see t shirts and baseball caps and wild ads…

    Me too! I am a classic ‘trader inner’. No coke. Ok. LSD. No LSD. Ok. Snort speed

    All the while knowing my real cross was booze.

    Then I became addicted to my career. Running too; that addiction got me a new hip 8 months ago. Damn. Now it is adrenaline. Oh face it. It has always been adrenaline.

    One time meditation. 2 or more hours a day. I was a f**king guru of calm I swear. (that addiction was my personal least favorite. Where is the fun factor in CALM?)

    You are right. Choose wisely. I think I will become addicted to staying alive

    Breathing kinda rocks

    XO. Jen

    • JEN, DITTO, of course. I’m addicted to breathing. OK, just thought of ONE THING, one thing i won’t get addicted to … B O R I N G !!! And so, here i am!!! After a night of sleep and painting … i can read!

    • “Addicted to Breathing”! i love it!

      i suspect, as well, that you’ve become addicted to helping, because you’re a serial helper!

      Keep coming back, m’dear,

      Al K Hall

      • OOH! Ouch….

        In Alanon and ACA we talk A LOT about being addicted to helping FOR REAL! It is easy when living with addicts to get addicted to helping. It is one of the things I have to watch for: am I in a relationship or friendship to ‘save them’? It is real actually.

        am I IN the relationship or outside looking in as a ‘therapist’ type.

        OUch!

        • Sorry, lol, didn’t mean to give you a backhanded compliment!

          As far as i’m concerned, i i think you help just the right amount. Plus, you have just the right amount of “fucked up” to be too much of a ‘therapist type’. Or is that a backhanded compliment as well!

          Keep coming back,

          Al K Hall

      • man. I need to get some of that sleep you are talking about:

        I JUST go the double entendre in the post title.

        sleep. sleep. sleep

        OR

        MORE Caffeine!

  4. hey it’s me bro! the dudette. seriously-that picture is just so disturbing. where DO you get them?! and I’m with iamnotshe-I like that term blog-clog. I do not like that it’s sucking me in…

    • Babe! How are you!

      Yeah, i hope the picture’s not too disturbing. Many of my readers know how far i can go over at my main blog, The Bar None, but i’m really trying to make this place more Everybody oriented, not just the hell raisers. So i watch my language more here and try to stay away from the provocative photos. i think i caved and used this one because i was afraid no one would get the pun in the title without visual aid!

      As for the “blog clog”, thanks for reminding me i’ve yet to include you on my blog roll! That situation has since been remedied…

      Keep coming back, Dudette!

      Al K Hall

  5. Oh and Al, the pic … i can’t breathe :-0, but still addicted to AIR.

  6. Yeah……

    December kinda sucked, lol.

    Was thinking about this post quite a lot today, and I so much appreciate seeing it. I’m so glad that you are at the point today where you can call a spade a spade and say you are an addict to caffeine and writing and sleeplessness. I’m glad that you are able to write it out in black and white right now.

    One of the hardest things about living with an addict and loving an addict is that it is so damn hard to watch someone speeding towards a large brick wall and not say anything about it.

    See, from what I am learning on the other side of this codependent coin we call “our relationship” (and you are the addict and me the codependent) the only way addicts seem to come to an understanding about their addictions is by themselves and from people and situations outside of the family dynamic. The fact that you fell asleep in front of a client was much more powerful than my saying things in December like, “You know you are addicted to blogging, and it’s interfering with our life, and you’re not getting enough sleep…” etc. I’m learning, just as much as you are about how this all “works” — this addiction and recovery thing. Pretty much I have figured out that I just have to go busy myself with other things and let you smack into the wall.

    It’s pretty hard watching someone speed towards that wall, though. It requires a shitload of patience, and a shitload of fortitude to just be quiet and watch the chips fall where they will.

    So about this: “My addictions define me, so i must choose them wisely.”

    Interesting thought! Is this, like, something in the big book? Is this a truism of addiction? Or just an Al-ism? A little bit of both?

    I have had other loved ones of addicts tell me that if someone is with an addict, that person will always be an addict to *something* and will always look for addiction in anything. They seem to be saying that there will never be a point when an addict will not be actively addicted to something. Is that what you are getting at here? Do you feel you will always be manifesting an active addiction to something? Is that how this works?

    I’m just truly curious about what the feeling is in AA and/or other groups or materials on the subject matter. Is it true that an addict will ALWAYS be an addict, to something (even to “innocent” somethings)? The addict just needs to choose less deadly addictions?

    I still want to read that book called The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden explaining the neuroobiological components as they are understood today regarding addiction. What I have read about this issue so far is that there *can* be enough brain re-wiring in an addict to essentially eradicate most of the compulsiveness that propels addiction. There are some brain changes that cannot be undone, but quite a lot that can, with changes in diet, habit, etc — that there are ways to control the pleasure centers of the brain involved in compulsive and addictive behavior and even more possibilities as medicine advances.

    I hope so.

    In my opinion (take it or leave it), active addiction, in any shape or form, takes a toll on family and friends, because even with the “friendly & harmless” addictions, there is still a lot of the emotional and behavioral stuff going on that is problematic with addiction. I mean, if you were falling asleep in front of a client, well, there was also a toll at home as you pointed out. And I know, I know, I can “love it or leave it.” I get it. It’s always the choice. I’m still along for the ride, just trying to say that there is a definite downside to addiction, even if it is to coffee (because that amount of coffee *does* have an effect on your behavior and interaction with others even though it is a legal stimulant).

    AH… I think I just figured something out from typing all this shit.

    (I really need to get my own blog, don’t I.)

    Let me just put it here and then yeah, I will start thinking more seriously about creating my own blog about this stuff. If people promise to read it. 🙂

    Here goes.

    In my opinion, there is no such thing as an “innocent addiction.” It is all a compulsive and negative way of interacting with the world, a way that numbs someone out to healthy interaction with people and with the self. It’s a state of the brain/mind in which humans were not meant to function — an aberration of healthy brain patterns and functions. The causes and results are complex and not well-understood by neurobiologists, but greater understanding of the neurobiology is rapidly becoming known.

    However, it is true that in trying to correct the brain patterning to a healthy one from an addicted one, a person has to choose his or her demons, so to speak. It’s the idea that there are “transitional addictions” as a person works towards re-patterning the brain/mind into healthier modes.

    I would rather that you be addicted to writing any day than I would have you be in active addiction with alcohol.

    However, I would hope that the ultimate goal is to repattern the brain/mind to the point where there is little or no active addiction — no compulsivity — just healthy enjoyment of life activities that are in balance with one another.

    As I understand it, that is the goal of recovery.

    If I am off-base and writing with complete misunderstanding or that is not the real goal, then everyone, please do correct me.

    Last(ish) sentence: Oh that photo choice is “So Al.” *chuckle* My biggest question is who in the hell thought to create and market a beer bong like that???

    OH LORD. I just looked it up online. It is called the “DONG BONG” (lmao) and can be yours for the low, low price of $21.99!!! http://www.bachelorette.com/the-dong-bong1.html

    I would like to be a fly on the wall of the Chinese factory that makes those things. I mean, can you imagine what the workers must think of Americans?!? And hell, like, what guy is going to tell his friends, “I work in a factory that produces these penis-shaped devices for Westerners to drink beer out of.” Seriously. No wonder China thinks they can rule the world. I mean, they are making shit like this for us. LOL.

    *shakes head* The dumbass things people do, lol.

    • Whoops. “neuroobiological”

      Only one “o” is required at the beginning, lol. 😉

    • Mrs. Demanor … you gotta getta blog lady. Excellent post. I think there’s hope for addicts. I don’t like the term “addictvie personality” which is me and a gazillion other folks .. but i wouldn’t say i’m an “active” addict either. I am a person who deals with what i’ve been dealt. I can’t think of one person who isn’t “overdoing it” in one respect or another? … Course we know there’s a big difference between a coffee addict and a meth or alcohol addict.

      So my 2 cents are worth, not much, but a few observations: You are spot on about the addict needing to be WOKEN UP by someone outside the family. The family drama just won’t do it! That sounds horrible, but it never worked for me. Maybe it’s because addicts need co-dependents. IT’s a freakin’ endless circle of BS that CAN and IS dealt with by a mixture of treatments. AA is so great, NA, etc. OA, well, i used that for awhile, now individual treatments are best for me, and having a relationship, friends, etc. Got to have the “right” supports. OK … so what to do … just love that man of yours, and keep searching, and living and enjoying. Boy is it easier said than done. I think Americans are pretty much all addicts: Seems required. Work, exercise …

      OK … time for a nap you two!!!! xoxo melis

      • Ditto your thoughts about being woken up by those outside the family. And, as i’m starting to learn, the best way to wake up is to catch myselfasleep at the switch. That way i can steer myself back onto the right track.

        Thanks for your input, Melis, and keep coming back,

        Al K Hall

    • Thanks for your research on the Dong Bong! Good to know what to get you for next Christmas. 😉

      Just a couple notes about this…

      i think i tend to agree with what In The Same Boat will say later on, that these addictions of mine aren’t all that serious or debilitating and so are not what i would consider “true addictions”. AA itself promotes drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes as a way of avoiding alcoholism, though they acknowledge that smoking isn’t ideal. i could probably remove all of my compulsions if i took a battery of psycho drugs, but i’m not sure the goal is to remove all compulsions. i like what Jen says about getting away from the boring (though she didn’t refer to it in this context).

      Imho, what’s more important is that i tired to get by on no sleep, saw that it had become a problem and took steps to correct it. i now get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep a night (sometimes a little less but usually more on weekends) and i think it’s huge that i was able to 1) recognize it as a problem and 2) do what was necessary myself to fix it. This is true recovery for me, being able to maintain my own sobriety. Stopping the train before i wreck it.

      Thanks for your thoughts, and keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

    • Mrs. D!!!

      I am sitting on the couch in the Man Cave doing the wave all by myself!

      YES A BLOG! yes go for it. REALLY REALLY FOR REALS!

      AA was my first group; alanon and ACA is now my home group. My issues stem from the past and growing up with alcoholics. We NEED you!

      (I am still doing the wave here. Do you do the wave in the stands in Yeaman?)

  7. I love the succinct nature of this post, but how deep it runs.

    Sliced me to the core- almost hurt me.

    Because it is me.

    • I’m with Brandi, this post hit me HARD … and … I have a short attention span 😉 AL is a great writer so, like great musicians, he can use few words (few notes) and make a point, unlike moi. It’s an awesome post, both my Al and Mrs. D. xoxo peace ya’all.

    • Thanks, babe!

      Glad you were able to get something out of it. Hope it helped!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  8. I call BS, Al. How can you be addicted to sobriety? It doesn’t follow the flawed reasoning that goes “A little bit of X helps. So more of X will help more.”

    In order for a behavior to qualify as an addiction, it has to be something you do that causes more harm than any benefits it affords. This is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

    For example, I enjoy exercise. If I don’t do it, then I become miserable. But I don’t call that an addiction, even though I crave it when I’ve been inactive because my life is better off with it. Now, if I spent all my time at the gym or on my bike, to the detriment of my family life, my health (over-exercise), or my job, then it might constitute an addiction. (I’ve been close when I was marathoning.)

    But can you really say that you were better off drinking or whatever else it was you were doing? Addiction to sobriety makes no sense. Addicted to AA meetings…yeah….I could see that. The key is to spend as much time as you need on “recovery issues” but no more.

    And I don’t let my non-active addictions define me. And I don’t know if I would say I’m addicted to coffee, even though I drink almost as much as you….I think it helps me more than hurts.

    • I agree with inthesameboat. Well said. Slightly light on the simplicity of what constitutes an addiction. Maybe there is such a thing as “addictive personality”. No, no.

      I’d say you’re more right than not … The word addiction is overused, as is the word Love.

      I loved you response to Al’s post …

    • ITSB!

      Yes and no. lol

      First off, i will totally cop to freely (and perhaps overly so) using the word “addiction”. Mrs D reworded it as “compulsion”, which is probably closer to what i was describing.

      Second, i wasn’t saying that the coffee and writing were problem addictions. While i might be physically addicted to caffeine (in the sense i might go through withdrawals if i quit cold turkey–and i know all too well about caffeine withdrawal from personal experience) , i’m not trying to quit or even reduce my intake. It’s an acceptable “habit”, let’s say. The same with writing. While i may write a lot and while Mrs D may say that i write compulsively, i feel as though a great weight has been lifted from me and this has provided me a sense of relief that makes it easier and more pleasant for me to write. It is definitely a great way for me to get my jollies off!

      Third, as you say, it is possible to be addicted to recovery programs and probably everything else. Anything done to excess is obviously bad, hence the word “excess”. As for my statement about being “addicted to recovery”, i’ll admit i write that only because i liked the contrast inherent in the sentence. i don’t think one can be addicted to the concept of recovery because that’s like saying being addicted to being healthy and happy, which is the contrary of addiction.

      Thanks for your thoughts, brother! Thought provoking as always!

      Keep coming back, please,

      Al K Hall

  9. OK – I EFFING LOVE YOUR FOLLOWERS.

    When they feel like saying “oh get bent” – THEY DO!!!!!!

    THAT is awesome.

    My best friend of 15 years, Big Gay Bob over at http://whatingaylife.wordpress.com and I have an open dialogue like that. I ripped him good in regard to a post he uploaded about my not wanting to open up after the 60 mph head on (not my fault) suck ass wreck I had in December that totaled my beautiful Mercedes, my perfectly fine ligament in my shoulder and my cushy dream job where I was self employed – can’t work, yuk – with it. (I go into recluse, turtle mode when bad stuff happens that I cannot medicate or shove food on or shop away – LOL. Since all the coping mechanisms I know are a part of the BIG problem, hell, I hide – BIG TIME)

    Anyway, we have slammed doors in each others faces – and it was him when my cracked out 90 pound ass showed up on his doorstep wanting money for dope, who said “Whatever you have going on – you need to fix it before you EVER talk to me again. NOW GET OFF MY PORCH.” SLAM.

    But in that harsh, splintered honesty- there’s no room to fake it – or pretend it isn’t there – or do what we do best- avoid.

    And it was three years before I tried to contact him, two months sober and scared as hell. But that honesty goes both ways – his response “Good, you’ve cleaned yourself up. You hungry? Let’s go eat.” Since then – no suspicions. No questions, no accusations. Just acceptance. No bullshit. Those who buy the BS are the ones that help us stay sick. Sucks, too. They think they help, bless their sweet hearts.

    There are no sweet hearts here, though. Ha!!

    Effing bravo guys. I am truly impressed.

    • Hi Brandi!

      Aren’t they the coolest, though? It’s funny, but for all of my posing, i’m probably the biggest wimp of the lot. i’m always leaving Care Bear Hugs Rainbow Farts Out Of My Little Pony comments while my readers are getting down into it and getting their hands dirty.

      Loved your story, by the way! Thanks for sharing it with us. Glad to hear you’re getting better and that the tough love worked! Go Big Gay Bob (does he know Big Gay Al over in South Park, lol?)

      No sweethearts in here, indeed. These Sanoma Beaches care too much!

      Keep coming back, babe,

      Al K Hall

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