Heroes and Addicts

Drug addiction is part of my stories, but it’s also part of my story, my life story.  I started drinking and using at 17 and didn’t stop until I was 30 when I woke up at home with no memory of driving there after an all-day drinking binge with my family.

I wish I could say that was the last time I had a drink.  But I continued on for another six years.  I didn't get clean until I was 36 and found myself spending two weeks in a looney bin at Del Amo (yes, that's what happens when you end up on the beach with an X-Acto knife - more on that in another post).

After I successfully passed the hearing at the end of my mandated 5250 hold, I went to Dr. Drew's rehab, Pasadena Recovery Center and spent 30 days getting my head screwed back on (thank you, Butch, wherever you are).

I learned there that I can't fight my addiction head-on and think myself out of it.  I learned that the addiction's going to always be there and what I have to do is act differently in order to change my life.

And that's the definition of surrender in a Twelve Steps program -- it doesn't mean giving up.  It means that the only way to win over my addiction is to stop fighting and accept that I'm an addict and that I'll always be an addict.

 I was told that I can never again drink or use drugs in "moderation" like a normal person might.  My counselor Butch compared addiction to diabetes:  if you heard a diabetic whine about wanting to eat chocolate, you'd tell them to accept the fact that eating chocolate will kill them and they need to get over it.

Some of my beliefs around this have evolved, but at the time, it was such a relief to hear that I wasn't crazy and that I had a disease that could be treated, that I had a problem which had a solution.

So what does this have to do with my series Twelve Stakes?

All of my anti-heroes are addicts whose lives have spiraled out of control - they no longer know who they are and they can't run away anymore from the destruction they're causing.  

Lost nights, blackouts, car accidents, waking up in jail.  Ruined relationships, sudden rages, and cascade of guilt, shame and confusion. But it goes further for them because they end up killing people.

Like me, what saves them is that they learn that they are not crazy, that there's a reason for the horrible things they're doing.  And that reason is that they have supernatural powers.

In my stories, addiction is not a failure of your brain structure -- it means you have a super brain.  Kind of like X-Men but without the cute spandex.

My heroes discover that they can use their handicaps not only to save themselves but the entire world.

Now who doesn't love a redemption story like that?


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