Getting High On Life in Recovery

Yes – it’s true! We can keep getting high in Recovery!

12 Step Gazette August 2010
12 Step Gazette August 2010

Except now we don’t have to take a drink or a drug to get there. In fact, it’s almost like we CAN’T get high by using anymore. We’ve all heard the expression, “a bellyful of drugs/alcohol and a head full of NA/AA don’t mix very well”. Anyone who has relapsed after being clean and sober for awhile will tell you how true that is – they got more “low” than “high”. So how do we wind up feeling really high without using any mood altering substances? The answer is simple – life. Apparently, many of us never learned how to live and enjoy life as other people do while we were getting high but now is a good time to start. We may even get such a tingly “rush” doing or experiencing certain things that we may stop and go, “Wow! That felt fantastic!” If you haven’t had that feeling yet in your recovery, don’t give up! You may only be “five minutes away from that miracle”.
It’s not really a miracle that we can get to feel really high without taking something – not in the true sense of the word miracle. We were meant to feel euphoric sometimes – that’s probably why we have emotions. It’s just that ‘modern times’ had kind of taught us that it’s a lot easier to get there by popping, drinking or buying something so we chose the easier way. Now we’re back to square one so let’s take a look at a few other ways to “get happy”. My personal favorite (as longtime readers of The Gazette will attest to) is laughter. Any kind will do. Recently my granddaughter wanted a hamster so off to the nearest pet shop we go. Next to all these furry little hamsters was one lone gerbil and boy was he funny. A lot funnier than the hamsters so we chose him and he sure is fun to watch.

Check out 365 Ways to Have Fun Sober by Lisa M. Hann for more tips.

Which brings up the first great way to get high on life – get a pet! I think a dog or cat would be more rewarding than a gerbil but whatever you want. Giving and receiving love is the point here – what a good feeling that is. Skydiving isn’t for me (front cover) but I know a few people in recovery who have tried it. It’s definitely one way to get those endorphins flowing! Another way to feel high is to do something either you’ve never done before or something you haven’t done in a really long time. For example, the more finicky I have gotten the less I’ve wanted to go on a beach and play in the waves. Whether it was the sand or my “decreased athletic ability” (i.e. fat – gained 40 lbs. after quitting cigarettes), I just haven’t been motivated for it. Either a pool or nothing. Recently, I found myself at the shore for the first time in 2 or 3 years. There was no pool around, it was hot so we went to the beach. Well – I gotta tell you. Playing in those waves, watching the flying, hovering seagulls and the parents with their little tots. It doesn’t get any better than that! Here’s another one; just take a chair and sit near some birds or trees. Watching their little lifestyles can be very entertaining and peaceful…and fun.
There’s a million ways to get high in recovery. I always get a rush when listening to a piece of music that I always loved but was usually too zonked to really appreciate. Or looking at some Salvador Dali paintings – you don’t need any chemicals to get a kick out of HIS artwork! If you have a computer, YouTube is amazing. You can search for anything. Catch a comedy act or concert with a couple of easy clicks. One time I typed in David Bowie Videos and a live clip of him singing “Heroes” came up – I watched it and got chills, it was so good.

The biggest secret about learning how to get high on life is remembering that thrills don’t fall into our laps. We have to do things, try things and take a risk. We’re not talking about the thrill-seeking and risk-taking of pre-sobriety…this is a more positive search. An adventure born from the desire to really want to learn how to live life to its fullest. A quest for fulfillment and satisfaction. New things. New ways of doing old things. Many of us have looked at food differently. Perhaps go to a supermarket and really browse around – we’d be surprised how much cool stuff we’ve overlooked in our hurry to get in and out. Here’s a little ‘curveball’ for you; how about using an under appreciated sense like our ability to touch things. In my active addiction I was afraid to look somebody in the eyes let alone start investigating my sense of touch. Now, when I’m hugging someone or holding someone’s hand, I often get this really great sensory wave of feeling that is amazing (naturally, we’re talking only about appropriate, consensual touching here). Or how about taking up an activity that we gave up on years ago – playing the guitar or shooting pool. The possibilities are endless. Stretching exercises, just for the heck of it, can produce a nice little high. Making a decision to help somebody, reaching out at meetings to newcomers and making plans to go to a convention or round-up can all set the stage for a natural high. What we’re trying to say here is that the next time we hear somebody say “we can’t get high anymore,” we can answer, “not true – we can get high on life.”

– Written by Bruce “The Gazette Guy” Huberman.

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