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I find my experience in early recovery has had a few challenges. On one hand I’m trying to live by certain principals that I adopt from those around me in recovery and from the fellowship meetings I attend. On the other hand I’m fighting my old principals that I learnt from using drugs for so many years.
It became clear from the first time, I entered a treatment centre that my principals had been violated. I didn’t grow up with some gangster, thieving family. My people were from good stock, caring, loving high achievers. Mixing with the high society of Johannesburg wasn’t foreign to me. Our house appeared in Architecture magazines, we had a house in Portugal and by all means we lived well. With that sort of upbringing, came the morals and values of that lifestyle. Maybe I valued exterior influences more than I should have, but nothing to the extent that my life turned out to be.
I was told the normal stuff when growing up. I knew the difference between right and wrong and my family guided me as best as they could.
By the end of my active addiction I was a mess. I literally had compromised every value, moral and principle I had been taught besides murder. I was a rampant thief and liar, I couldn’t be trusted and the only way you knew when I was lying was when my mouth was open. The principles and life lessons I learnt through addiction changed my life so dramatically that when I was alone I was more dangerous to myself than to others. There is a serious problem when you sit alone and feel petrified of your own company.
As my addiction progressed to the later stages there could have been a check list of all the principles I broke.

  • Never use cocaine – CHECK
  • Never use crack – CHECK
  • Never use heroin – CHECK
  • Never use a needle – CHECK
  • Never steal – CHECK
  • Okay never steal twice – CHECK

The list can go on for hours, the point is the need to feel different or better always compromised my beliefs and principles.
Now in recovery I’m having to unlearn these behaviours and it can get really complicated. When I start looking at what are needs and what are wants. I start looking into motives and reasons. I evaluate and re-evaluate most decisions. Major decisions are done with consulting a few people who know me and my behaviour patterns.
I’m adopting new principles from those around me in the fellowship and in my peers I chose to surround myself with today.