Cocaine Addiction Recovery – when Owen was ready, the habit melted away

Owen’s story of his cocaine addiction recovery is one of the most noteworthy I have known amongst my clients. For Owen it was truly not about recovering from his coke addiction but of moving on beyond it.  As such he was one of the main inspirations for my Moving Beyond Addiction Programme.

So this is his story (with names and other details changed to preserve complete anonymity).

Owen was in his late forties and though he still lived in his family home, his relationship with his wife had broken down, his teenage daughter was less and less communicative and his job in local government was difficult, unsatisfactory and at times highly stressful. He had also pretty well lost contact with his family, most notably his two younger sisters.  And so on most evenings he would simply spend his time alone in his room, taking coke – lost in his cocaine addiction.

Of course he understood that his habit was a major negative factor for the work and relationship problems in his life but this only contributed to him beating himself up all the time. And whenever he did try to stop or cut down or change something/anything, nothing worked. Owen truly was a lost and trapped soul.

In helping Owen, my first task was to explain how addictions take hold – in an attempt right at the beginning to normalise and take pressure of him. The main ideas are on my addiction page. We spent a long time getting to grips with my cuckoo addiction metaphor . This explains that addictions take over and push out all that is valuable to living a life that works. This also means that to get over addictions, you have to begin by moving towards a life that is working better and only then will you have the resources to stop. This was certainly true for Owen.

And so we worked together for a couple of months or more – to begin to create a life for Owen that would work for him. There would come a time fairly soon when he would have to move out. But not until he could see how he could live better and this primarily meant creating and restoring friendships.  And so this is what we began to do. And then he revealed to me that there was a woman who he cared for and who cared for him but that hitherto he had been too ashamed to befriend or pursue her.

And so this became our focus also. And as it did so, an amazing thing began to happen. All parts of his life began to re-knit together and it became a self feeding virtuous circle.

Owen stopped seeing me at this point and only got in contact again a year or so later.  By that time, he had moved in with his new girl friend and was planning to marry. He had also been promoted at work and was now in charge of a small team and really enjoying this. And what had become of his coke addiction? Well that had shrunk right down to just one evening a week – to little more than a bad habit – and he had come back to me because he and his soon to be wife were ready for him to stop completely.

And this is what he then did – by planning to build up other parts of his life that were still neglected – notably his male friendships. And when the detail of this had become clear, then we used trance methods to reinforce and rehearse.

The big lesson from Owen is that it is really important to prepare the ground – that before you stop the cocaine addiction; you need to be taking small steps to getting your life working. And when you are ready, moving beyond your addiction to something much better is often easier than you might ever imagine.

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