Sorry I haven’t written sooner, but I’ve had a dental issue that has been distracting. Nothing major, just a real annoyance, along with not being able to settle on an appointment time with my dentist. Part of life.

But that got me to thinking about how it used to be. Back in the Bad Old Days, I would have embraced a dental issue. What a wonderful excuse to get — and take — drugs! To get attention. To malinger. To have an excuse for a few drinks. To feel sorry for myself. To take drugs.

Ever know anyone who behaved that way? Hmmmmmm?

Just another manifestation of our old friends addiction and denial, that’s all, along with an addict’s conviction that it isn’t OK to not feel Ok. Fact is, hard drugs are almost never necessary for dental pain, unless we’re looking for an excuse to take them. In the years since I got clean and sober (and trust me: like most addicts I had dental problems) I’ve twice gotten through “hot” abscesses with nothing but ibuprofen, albeit in prescription quantities. One one occasion it was so bad that I was sloshing ice water in my mouth for 18 hours straight until I could get it tended to, but I didn’t have to use.

I tell you this not to make myself out to be a tough guy, because I’m anything but. My dentist — himself with over 20 years sober — knows that I need to be loaded up with lidocaine before he can even put his hand in my mouth. The point is that I didn’t have to use. Once you get the monkey off your back, neither do you.

Keep it in mind.

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