5 Things I Learned About Addiction After 5 Years Sober

#2. It's Easy to Burn Out on Your Hobbies

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Boredom is a powerful sobriety killer. I talked about that in this article a couple of years ago. In it, I mentioned how important hobbies are because they keep your mind busy, distracting you from the ambush of cravings. For me, those hobbies were mainly writing (which led to this job) and video games (which keep me from doing this job efficiently).

What I didn't realize back then was that you have to be diverse in picking hobbies, because doing the same thing over and over will eventually lead to burnout. If you don't have a backup to keep you busy when you grow bored of one activity, you're going to stray into "what if" territory. "Man, I've been sober for four years. Drinking just this one time isn't going to re-addict me." It's your mind's way of trying to fill that "I have to be doing something right goddamn now" hole, and if you're not careful, you will fill it with old habits.

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His addiction is obviously pouring juice way too high while wearing stupid outfits.

For me, that meant having multiple video games at the ready. If I got burned out on World of Warcraft, I could switch over to Civilization or Boner Jousting 9. If I got bored with video games entirely, I'd have a few different TV shows on standby so I could flop on the couch and relive those awesome moments where Sylar would cut the top of someone's head off while Claire whined about how bad her life is because she's immortal. Or I'd do real-life boner jousting, using my wife as my horse.

But you have to have lots and lots of things to do. Fun things. Awesome, rewarding things that don't feel like work. If you have to, use some of that money you're saving from no longer buying recreational poison. At first, you'll feel guilty buying or doing fun things just for yourself. You're used to sacrificing your time and money to the addiction and putting your real life on hold. But as you get deeper and deeper into sobriety, you'll understand that it's not only a good rule of thumb, but absolutely necessary for your mental survival.

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Addiction status: Cured, bitches.

#1. When People Stop Giving a Shit, It's a Good Thing

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So after all this, there's a pinnacle moment where the whole world looks at you and collectively rolls its eyes. It's how I imagine Morgan Freeman's character felt at the end of The Shawshank Redemption -- total freedom wrapped in a thin film of "Shit, now what?"

You get this feeling from family members first, because they're close enough to you that their filters for protecting your feelings are thinner. They'll ask how you're doing, and since you've been open about your recovery, you'll launch into that subject. Why not? It's a direct, honest answer to their question. Four sentences in, you catch a subtle sigh from one of them, followed by a thinly veiled look that says, "Christ, not this again." At that moment, you realize they're finally seeing you as just another normal person.

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"Wait, did you just say 'normal'?"


That's what every addict is fighting for. We're not looking for medals, pats on the back, or even sympathy. We just want to be like every other person who doesn't have to put up with this mind-wrecking bullshit every day of their lives.

It's not a small deal for us. That journey takes goddamn ages to complete. We go from self-destruction to self-hatred. Shame, anger, extreme pain, breakdowns ... people view us as weak children devoid of willpower. People feel sorry for us, blame us, denounce us. Small towns and tight communities shun us from jobs and social functions because they assume we're trouble. But that day when people stop giving a shit is pure gold. "Yeah, we get it. You used to be an addict. Now you're not. Welcome to the adult world, pal. Now kindly suck all of our dicks, because we don't care."

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"By the way, the line for whiny pussies starts over there."

It's a long, hard fight, but I'm telling you that if you have a legitimate problem, the journey is totally worth it. And remember that you're always welcome in that thread I mentioned earlier. Here it is again, if you're too lazy to scroll back to it. They'll support you when you need it and call you on your bullshit just the same, because they know what you're going through. But that rooftop wrestling thing? You might want an actual professional to help you out with that one. That's just fucking weird, dude.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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