It’s easy for alcoholics and other addicts to find excuses to use. We come from a society where we take pills or other medication for every little thing — one that spends billions of dollars telling us that it is not OK to feel not OK. That’s an idea that resonates with all addicts. We not only think that it’s not OK to feel less than wonderful, but that even when we feel good we need to try to feel better. There’s a saying, “I drank because the dog ran away, then I drank because the dog came back.” Most people in recovery can relate to that.
Today I’m nursing a tooth extraction, and it got me to thinking about how many times I used pain as an excuse for drinking or taking other drugs. Sometimes, if I could make up a good enough story, I could even get off work so that it wouldn’t interfere with my “convalescence.” I was lucky, in that I didn’t need to shop for doctors or buy my drugs on the street. I could just curl up with a bottle and dare anyone to object, because I was…whatever.
Teeth are an excellent example. Most people find tooth pain pretty unpleasant, and a “hot” absess that comes on of a Friday evening can make for a pretty nasty weekend until you can get in to see the dentist — if you can get a timely appointment. That’s a wonderful reason to take drugs, and many physicians and dentists are perfectly willing to prescribe the necessary painkillers to make that weekend a real party.
Well, our dentist is in recovery. My wife and I hooked up with him back in about 1990, and we’ve been seeing him ever since for our dental needs. Not only does he know we’re in recovery, he knows all the junkie tricks from his own experience. With his advice, I’ve discovered that you really don’t need booze or narcotics to get through some pretty severe pain.