Just because we’re in recovery doesn't mean our old urges and temptations completely go away.
This came up in group the other day when a heroin addict who'd been clean over 20 years said he still has his predatory instincts.
"Sometimes," he said, "I see things sitting around and I automatically think that someone should steal them. And that someone used to be me."
And then he explained that even though he'd stolen nothing since he'd been clean, he still has the old wiring in his subconscious that worked for him when he was seeking something to steal to sell or trade for drugs. During his days of hustling for dope he was constantly on the lookout for valuables that people weren't keeping an eye on. So much so, that it’s probably a part of his past that will never go away completely.
But what does go away, he explained, is that he no longer has to act upon the urge to steal – or to use heroin. Instead he is able to look around at his life today: great job, good marriage, good health, a circle of friends, and realize that there's nothing in the world that's worth jeopardizing the promises he's enjoying.
He says it happens to all of us if we don’t give up.