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I know I have said it before, but if drugs and alcohol and the subsequent stint in an Orange County Rehab did not have a benefit for me at the time I was using them, I would not have been doing them.

Seems like kind of a no-brainer, but in OC drug and alcohol treatment programs there is a tendency to dismiss these times, to treat them like they never happened. It is obvious as to why. It is so that the new addict or alcoholic does not develop a craving after remembering only the good times, forgetting what the consequences and reality of drinking or using actually are. Nevertheless, it always kind of irked me.

“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” That is a line directly out of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in The Promises that I will never forget as it rings true not and rang true with I was in the middle of my alcoholism treatment. In The Family Afterwards, we get another little gem: “…the dark past is the greatest possession you have–the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.” Why, then, are we so concerned about glamorizing some of our war stories? If anything, we should be celebrating these stories, shouldn’t we?

Not necessarily. Sitting in an Orange County detox with someone in the throes of opiate addiction, telling stories about some of the great times you had shooting up, is a fast-ticket trip to either the dopeman for the addict trying to kick, or a (well-deserved, in this instance) punch in the face. There is a time and place for everything, and that is neither the time, nor the place. Occasionally, the grizzled old timers might regale the newcomer with some of their own war stories, but this is not the same thing as glamorization. Glamorization does not carry with it the aftermath of those stories. When most people who have been around for awhile tell their war stories, it is in an effort to relate to the newcomer, to give them something with which to identify. It is not, however, a pleasant stroll down Memory Lane.

The purpose of both of those quotes is to express our willingness to be of service to others. While many of us have made horrible mistakes in the past, we are taking the experience and the burden we earned as a result to those in similar circumstances and showing what that may ultimately look like. Conventional wisdom and personal experience are worlds apart in the mind of the alcoholic or addict. There is a tendency, even when sitting in an Orange County drug and alcohol treatment center , to convince ourselves that we are the exceptions to the rule, despite all of the often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It is similar to someone telling us that the stove is hot, and our response being, “No it isn’t. Let me show you.” It seems silly, but the aftermath caused by the addict or alcoholic usually paints a very similar picture.

Without that personal element with which to relate, the warnings are white noise. Yet we who have made the mistakes have a unique perspective to offer. We can help light the way for those who have made the same mistakes, but do not know where to turn be it drugs, alcohol, or opiate addiction. We offer hope to those in seemingly hopeless situations. At the very least, we can offer comfort to those who are hurting. Regardless though, our dark pasts truly are what give us the ability to help those who otherwise would be without.

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