Opiate Addiction: Tools for Recovery

In Part 1, Opiate Addiction: The Slide Into Hell, I talked about my introduction to Norco and Percocet and how I moved from use to abuse.

Then, in Part 2, Opiate Addiction: Detox, I shared the details of detoxing from opiates, including the difficulties of withdrawal symptoms.

Here, I speak about finding support for recovery, not always easy when one doesn’t want to participate in the Anonymous/12-Step programs.

My Take on the 12-Steps

Coming out of the detox fog after a month of withdrawal hell, I began feeling the need for support with my cravings and need for medication, so went on a Google Search & Destroy Mission.

For a variety of reasons, I cannot abide by the Anonymous (12-Step) Programs. I am a-theist for starters. Yes, I know the party line of making anything your “Higher Power,” (“It can be a tree!”), but it is just not an emotional, even spiritual, barrier I can cross.

100 years ago, I attended Sexual Abuse Survivors Anonymous (another post for another day) and, I kid you not, they (not me!) recited the Lord’s Prayer at the end of every meeting. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Even ignoring the incredibly insensitive-to-other-religions-besides-Christianity issue, there was the whole “Our Father,” part. For crying out loud, many of these women had been raped by their fathers! The ghastly myopic blindness horrified me.

Another major issue I have always had is the “I am powerless” recitation in Step 1.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction —that our lives had become unmanageable.

Well, I am absolutely NOT powerless. I am power-FULL. I refuse to think of myself as helpless. I did that already and it did not serve me in the least. Screw that.

I have attended probably 100 12-Step meetings for a variety of issues over the last 3 decades. Different groups, different locations, always the same spiel. It annoyed the crap out of me how meetings became pity parties… and then the, I-Got-More-Fucked-Up-Than-You-Did stories, members trying to one-up each other with how low their “bottoms” were. It also did not escape me the clandestine drug deals and bar dates made for after meetings. I have been told by many present and former Anonymous attendees that the meetings are the best places to score.

Clearly not a good fit, so searched for those alternatives I knew had to exist.

Rational Recovery


My first stop was Rational Recovery (RR). I was starving and it spoke to my a-theist Self, so I grabbed onto the program, ordering all the books and pamphlets they had to offer. Once they arrived, however, I quickly figured out, uh… no… this won’t work either.

Their main theme is the belief in an “Addictive Voice” aka “The Beast,” that compels one to use. A sort of devil on one’s shoulder, whispering in your ear, imploring you to do your drug-of-choice.

The Beast: Addictive desire. The animal desire for addictive pleasures, to get high. Your Beast is a perverted survival drive that speaks with awesome, sometimes God-like, authority, but takes on charming and seductive tones as well.

One more negative for me is they have no Support Groups, in person or online. I am a Support Group Junkie, so that was a big turn-off, too.


Nope. Wrong program.

SMART Recovery


I moved on to SMART Recovery and very quickly knew I had hit on the right solution for my needs. Scientifically based? Yes. Believes in a person’s being powerful? Ayup. Support groups? You bet.

SMART Recovery is the leading self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Our participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community which includes free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups.

I started attending the online meetings immediately as well as grabbing their FREE material online. The Tools are the cornerstone of SMART. Based on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), SMART has whole exercises for re-training the brain to recognize the issue/craving then working with it.

The central idea of REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) is that our emotions and behaviors (how we feel and act) are strongly influenced by how we think. Therefore, changing our thinking can be a very powerful way to change our emotions and behaviors.

I really cannot say enough good about SMART. I saw me through my first year of Recovery. If anyone has any questions about it, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Mindfulness Meditation

An enormous key to my Recovery was/has been/continues to be Mindfulness Meditation. Because there is so much to say, I’m making it its own post.

Trite, I know, but The Message is: THERE IS HOPE! Getting out from addiction has been one of the most amazing things in my life. One of the best is I am writing again.

The words keep flowing!


 List of Alternatives to 12-Step Programs