GUEST BLOGGER: Beth Burgess and ‘Can You be Grateful For Your Addiction?’

london recovery coach.jpgIn order to recover, alcoholics and addicts first have to go through the painful process of admitting their problem. Then comes the challenge of accepting the situation and doing the work to recover. But can you actually get to the point where you’re happy to be an addict? Where you appreciate what your addiction has given you and you actually enjoy your path in life?

I like being an alcoholic. Truly, I do. It’s an unusual position to take, I admit – but one that serves me well. I’m so happy, I even wrote a book about it. Let me tell you how I came to reach this point – and was able to write The Happy Addict to help others find the happiness that I already have.

The fact is that I spent a lot of my life fighting reality. I drank to escape, to numb, to hide and to retreat from the world. At the end of my drinking, there was nothing I could do to fight reality any more. My addiction was something I couldn’t deny or hide from any longer. The fact that alcohol was now betraying me was clear to me and everyone around me. My attempts at controlling my drinking had all failed and my chances of living through another withdrawal were pretty slim.

I am an alcoholic, and an addict, and there is nothing I will ever be able to do to change that. I’ve learnt in life that it is only by facing and embracing reality that we can solve our problems and find happiness. So, given that my alcoholism is the reality, I thought I might as well get to like it.

So, what are the good things about addiction?

Well, I actually have a better life now – because I was forced to change myself. That was a gift of my alcoholism. Many people just go through their lives, unconfronted by the screwy things that they do to make themselves miserable. Things never reach rock bottom, so they are never made to face their own shortcomings and change them for the better.

Addicts usually become so damaged by their thinking and behaviours that they are forced to address them. And that’s where the magic begins. Taking a good look at ourselves enables us to become much better people, who do the right things to keep themselves happy and healthy. That is more than can be said of the rest of the population, who can grind on through life without changing anything, because they can afford to be complacent in a way that addicts can’t.

Similarly, I have been forced to grow, and I’ve developed some qualities and skills I really treasure, as a direct result of my addiction. It is no surprise that many people in the helping professions have suffered from problems themselves. Issues like addiction enable you to develop empathy and a willingness to help others, and an understanding that allows you to do so effectively.

41+RPl0IiaL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Another edge that addicts have over non-addicts is that they have a ready-made group of people who just ‘get’ them. As an addict, I am in the unique position of being totally understood by other addicts in a way that I don’t believe happens in any other peer group. When I meet other addicts, we can just start talking as if we have known each other forever. I am able to be totally open and honest with my peers in a way that rarely occurs in other circles. That’s a really special gift.

I am able to be grateful for life in a way that people who haven’t reached a terrible state rarely are. My family, my friends, my career, the roof over my head, even my internal organs – these are all things that I put at risk when I was in the throes of my addiction. Having nearly lost everything, I now treasure all the ‘normal’ things I now have all the more. And it feels fantastic.

Those are just a few of the reasons why I am genuinely happy to be an addict. While it is a challenging and painful path to be given, when you start to recover and work on making yourself happy and healthy, the benefits can far outweigh the costs in the grand scheme of things.

If you’d like to stop cursing your addiction and learn how to become a ‘happy addict’ too, my book is available from Amazon and can be ordered through good bookshops.