People with Addictions are Very Gifted People

Updated: Jan 22

My name is Vince, and I am a recovered addict. I'll Bet you don't hear that one too often. Inside the front cover of the big book of AA, it says: "How millions of alcoholics (works for addicts too) have recovered from Alcoholism (defined by a hopeless state of mind and body). I am one of those.

I have recovered from addiction by doing a great deal of work. Firstly my addictions lead me to a place where I needed help. I found the 12 steps rooms of recovery. This started my journey to wellness, balance and coherence. Took me a long time to get it. I was a classic relapser. I'm grateful that it finally clicked for me and I lived to tell the tale. I had such low self worth from my childhood traumas, religious oppression, violent beatings, and ex-communication from the religion I was raised in, that the only relief I could find was in drugs.

What was I addicted to? "More" it was my drug of choice.

Because the nature of drugs is only a short temporary relief from pain, that I required more, more often, and preferably yours because one of the side effects of addiction is selfishness. The obsessive part of my mind kicked in, and then immediately the compulsion to get "More" kicked in right after. Chasing the elusive first high that could never be found.

Fast forward to the moment where I was so desperate. Suicidal Ideation overwhelmed me. When the drugs and the money ran out, I had to face myself, and all the mess I had created. Along with the rooms of recovery, there has been countless therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, personal development courses, and stacks of self betterment books, gurus, ceremonies, schooling and a whole lot of prayer to get me where I am today. A whole being that exhibits wellness and walks in gratitude. It has gifted me a heart of compassion. I wouldn't trade in those past experiences for the world.

Many people whose addictions have gotten the better of them, tend to do things they are not proud and carry a burden of shame, and low self esteem. Studies have shown that people of higher intelligence, will often become addicts.

Maybe they were gifted before, and, the drive to get more, has unearthed many gifts in people with addictions, including the understanding that they are capable finding ways and means to get more. Many skills were developed during their time in compulsion. Myself, I would never have gone and done the things I did to get my fix, there was a need, a hunger, a thirst that was relentless, unbearable. It felt like life or death. An Absolute Must Have. People do incredible things in this state. The great news is that our greatest weaknesses become our greatest gifts once we recover.

In the rooms of recovery there is a statement heard often: More will be revealed. Our undiscovered gifts are one of those revelations. An example: Imagine someone who manipulated, strategized, and carefully and meticulously planned to execute a robbery. Imagine the neuropathways that were opened in them during this time. That person now knows a much greater personal capacity and belief that they can do it, or something similar again. When they do it again and again, it becomes a pattern for them. Then it becomes a routine. Now, take this same person, have them in a state of sobriety, do the work on themselves to be a "Productive member of society" (AA Big book), and now you have a person who is creative, knows when others around are being manipulative, can see danger a mile away, and is very strategic to mention just a few of the gifts.

There are endless possibilities of career choices for someone like that with those gifts.

These gifts can be discovered in a state of sobriety. Step 1 is get help. There are many ways to recover. The 12 step model is a great place to start. One addict helping another is without parallel.

What is Addiction?

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a chronic disease that affects the brain’s reward, motivation, and memory functions. Someone with an addiction will crave a substance or other behavioral habits. They’ll often ignore other areas of life to fulfill or support their desires.

  • Dr. Maté uses three criteria in his definition of addiction. Firstly, craving the addictive substance or behaviour; secondly, engaging in the addictive substance or behaviour in order to experience pleasure or temporary relief from some kind of pain; and finally, the inability to give the substance or behaviour up.

  • Addiction is an attempt to solve a problem. It is the symptom of a deeper malaise, in most cases, trauma.

  • When bad things happened, or simply when good things that should have happened didn’t (when children didn’t get their needs met and were neglected), this can lead to addiction.

  • The most important question is not “why the addiction” but “why the pain?” In order to heal addiction, we must look at the underlying trauma.

This last point is what I want to draw attention to.

Dr Gabor also states that "Addiction is a lack of connection". Being understood, heard, validated, cared for, appreciated, given compassion, and feeling loved are connection.

In my counselling school, it was stated: "All trauma happens in connection, and it is also healed in connection"

So, we all need to find a way to connection. To be seen in our struggle. This is something I can provide in one on one session or in the groups we run here at LoveAlive.

This topic is important to me, because addicts generally carry deep guilt and shame before they take care of the wreckage of their past in step 7. Once restitution is resolved, they generally begin to carry their head much higher. The low self esteem, which is a side effect of all that burden basket of guilt and shame they have been carrying. In the Wellbriety Men's Step Groups I facilitate, we show them that the stuff that was handed to them to heal in this life is not their responsibility, and the only thing they are responsible for is their own healing (Which heals their ancestors 7 generations and more when they do the work in this life.)

So the pain/trauma, causes the brain to magnificent things to keep itself protected and can become remarkably resourceful. Some say to genius proportions in some instances, like when our lives are threatened to fight of flight proportions, which is common amongst many forms of addiction.

So, if you or someone you know is in the throes of addiction, but want to receive all the gifts of recovery possible, this could a good and viable way to get those blessings we have seen millions of other recovered addicts recieve.

  1. Get to a meeting, detox, safe/clean house and put a halt to the influx of substances of any kind. Get clean. Detoxs offer a few days to a week of sobriety. Have a safe person to take you from there, to safe environment like a treatment center where there are professionals who can take care you in a very effective way. This will will give you 30 days to 90 days depending on which center you go to. If you are lucky, you can find opportunities where one can live in one of these centers for a year or more. And, there are mandatory for recovery. You can do it without, but definitely not alone...You will need to surround yourself with many supporter who have your best interests at heart.

  2. Work your Steps: Take it like your life depends on it because it does. The other option is jails, institutions and death. I have seen a lot of success with the steps. And there are other ways to recover, but this is typically the best way to start one's healing.

  3. Once you have secured your recovery, gotten a set of steps finished in an honest and thorough way, You can now begin to source outside help which can go in many ways.

  4. Watch the gifts that begin to flow to you once you have taken care of your heart in a vulnerable way (The Greatest Strength is Vulnerablity) your past, your family, your community all being blessed by your sobriety,

This is a painting I did for a recovery center I went through called Fresh Start Recovery Centre. The symbolism is how much our addiction affects us in year 1 of recovery (depicted as the N) before our steps are done. After the steps are done, the fire subsides, and we begin to develop the attitude of gratitude (as seen in the A).

Since my recovery, I have gotten jobs as Vice President of large organization, I built a clothing line, I worked an an Executive director of Men's treatment center, and of course an addictions counsellor. I would have never dreamed I could ever attain these levels of achievement before or during my addiction. So, I am here to tell you that these promises that AA gives, comes true.

I have created and lost several businesses in recovery, but never picked up drugs to solve the pain in 16 yrs. These circumstances were great teaching tools for me, The miracle is that I can experience immense grief and still not pick up, and even be open to the lesson in it. That was serious transformation for me. You can have a life of gratitude too.

So, what I am trying to say here that no matter what,..

Don't pick up. "One is too many and a 1000 is never enough."

The worst thing it does in my opinion, is disconnects us from our higher power. Once we are fighting this world alone, that is a very morbid memory for me, I would wish it on anyone. Go to meetings and don't use in between. The healings will come if you just dont pick up, and do the work. Then you will be a service filled heart, person who walks in gratitude, at least, that is all I have seen from those who chose to work hard for a year. Are you worth it? I know you are.

Finding a way to overcome our traumas is critical in finding our gifts as addicts. To be able to share in a vulnerable way our struggles.

I am very proud today to be a recovered addict. I love to help others with through their addictions. I believe we addicts are specially gifted people, who rise to great heights once the trauma, and former behaviours are put behind them. I have deep empathy and compassion for a person in their plight.

In the rooms of recovery, they often call someone in their compulsion A Runaway Train

This will at some point lead to a train wreck. One recovery group's meeting was called Train Wreck.

Once the person hits their bottom, or the train wrecks, this is when some of them will be hurting enough, have hit a bottom sufficient to themselves to know through the humility of the decimation of their past, to reach out for help, and this time be teachable from this broken state.

In their quest to find a constant flow of their favourite flavour of addiction, they become very creative, very passionate, extremely focused in their cause. Though they cannot see it in a state of brokenness. This is why help from others is needed at this point. The rooms of recovery are full of people who will help. They however are not professionals, and they sometimes still have stuff they are working through. Many have much success in one on one counselling to be a way to get to their goal of recovery efficiently.

The 12 step model speaks of addiction as a disease that goes into remission once the substances have been removed.

The cure for the disease in my opinion, is to cure the trauma, the source of the pain.

Many former addicts have gone on to become very successful business people, amazing artists, supervisors, as during their time as addicts, Neuropathways were opened in their brains that showed them the greater extent of their capabilities. Once conscious of these abilities, they can be used to create greatness and beauty in the world. I have seen this in countless examples, being around recovery, working in this field and in my own case.

Some people go to Qi gong to heal their trauma, other to counselling, Breath work, Medicine carriers who specialize in this can also be a great step with appropriate aftercare toward healing traumas. Once the trauma is healed, there tends to either not have trigger anymore, or the triggers have subsided enough to make life manageable. Their gifts begin to manifest after taking the steps towards their healing. Once one goes to the "outside help" that AA speaks of on Page 133 in the Big Book:

I have had a lot of outside help, and I highly recommend it. That is why I became that guy. Once the trauma is calmed, tamed, or let go, then immense freedom is realized. This is the realm of miracles. Now, one's gifts become very prominent. I became very intuitive from a still place inside, and became one heck of a counsellor/coach, a nice side effect for me.

Over my past 25 years in recovery, I have seen many a miracle. People with a hopeless state of mind and body, are able to put down the drugs, sex, food, adrenaline, or anything that releases large amounts of dopamine or serotonin in the brain, These ones have been released from their self imposed hell. They have gone on to be very successful people in their fields. Once the addiction is put down, they can discover their talents and gifts and step into them.