The above saying is taken from a poster of cartoon character Pogo, published by cartoonist Walt Kelly in 1970. I like it because in a few words it tells the story of us drug addicts.
Before we enter the realm of sobriety we learned that we're our own worst enemy. But for many addicts, that's a big problem. Even though we created our own messes, we have a hard time accepting responsibility.
This came up the other day because I heard of a client who had been in more than 30 treatment programs. Yet, for some reason, he couldn't stay sober more than a few weeks after each one. He was baffled.
A counselor asked him what the problem was. But the client didn't have any idea.
Finally, the counselor suggested that the programs worked just fine. It was just that the client wasn't ready to be responsible for himself.
A common factor with unsuccessful addicts is they look outside themselves for the answers to their problems. It was their family. They were abused as a child. It was the way they were brought up. It was their wife. Or husband. It's always something - imaginary or real - that won't allow them to live sober. Always something or someone outside themselves.
Until we look at ourselves as the masters of our destiny we're sure to fail. No one changes our bad habits but us. If we overeat and get fat who's fault is that? If we smoke and develop a chronic lung disease, who can we blame but ourselves? If we put a needle in our arm, who did it?
If we destroy our relationships because we're fearful and angry and self-centered we must blame the person in the mirror. No matter how hard we reach for an excuse, no one "does" anything to us. When we're alone in our heads at night we know on a deep level where the responsibility lies.
We truly have met the enemy.
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