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A Lesson in Acceptance and Humility Comes from Detox

Writer Paul Garrigan struggled for years with alcoholism. Of his detox, he wrote, “When you are vomiting into a gutter in a Thai temple, it is impossible to lie to yourself anymore; nobody ends up doing such a thing unless they have messed up badly. So the medicine makes addicts teachable.”

Garrigan’s experience was perhaps worse than most. He checked himself into a Buddhist temple that specializes in overcoming addiction. The monks administer a powerful emetic that is meant to speed the drugs or alcohol out of your system. For Garrigan, the more powerful effect was that he finally had to accept that what he had been doing wasn’t working.

While most people’s experience of detox won’t be like Garrigan’s, the humility it brought is an important lesson for anyone going into recovery. Almost by definition, you can’t recover until you can admit that what you have been doing hasn’t worked.

Addiction quite often stems from trauma or abuse and addictive behavior is usually triggered by stress or a sense of helplessness. Humility requires vulnerability and the circumstances that lead to addiction are the same circumstances that make vulnerability especially difficult.

Just going to detox is a good start. It means you recognize you need help, which is itself a small act of humility. The detox itself may also be humbling. You may feel terrible. You may shake uncontrollably. You just have to accept whatever comes and know it will eventually pass.

It may be hard to feel arrogant while your shaking and sweating. Your instinct may be to put up your guard again when you start feeling better. Changing how you think will inevitably challenge your assumptions, which makes most people defensive. You will probably have to consider advice from counsellors you don’t know very well. It may be tempting to say, “Well, that may work for other people, but I’m different.” This would be a good time to remember the shaking and sweating and consider that you might not actually know what works for you.

As hard as it is to admit there are things you don’t know and things you can’t control, humility is essential for recovery. Humility is not self-loathing, but rather honest self-assessment. While arrogance is pretending your weaknesses don’t exist, humility is acknowledging them and finding ways to deal with them. If arrogance leads you to believe you can stop after one drink, humility reminds you that is definitely not true and you shouldn’t have the one drink.

Gardens Wellness Center is redefining the approach to detox. Our comfortable environment is designed to support the detox process while helping each client recognize their human dignity in recovery. Detox is the first step in recovery. Start your journey to wellness today by calling us for information:  (844) 325-9168