The Rhythm of Recovery

If you took a moment to step back and think hard about the past seasons of your life, I bet you’d see a common trend. You’d probably notice what I’ve noticed about each season of my life. In either good times or bad times each season had a unique rhythm.   

When I was deep in my addiction, my rhythm looked like this.

Get up, get sick, use all morning, chase drugs all afternoon, use all night. Repeat.

Get up, get sick, use all morning, chase drugs all afternoon, use all night. Repeat.

This rhythm was as tight as the Thunder drummers outside Chesapeake arena before a playoff game. It was perfectly in sync. It was also devastating to my life and anyone that loved me. But this rhythm didn’t start out like a Tommy Lee drum solo. No! It started with a few random “beats” here and there… a handful of small choices

  • Take a pill here and there, lie to a few people, cover my tracks, manipulate a friend or family member, call in sick to work, not show up to committed events, burn some bridges, take more pills, try this, try that.

These “beats” were the building blocks to the rhythm that ruined my life.

Thank GOD I was rescued from this rhythm on April 6th 2011! It was on this day that my rhythm was wrecked. And you can’t find a new rhythm until the old one is interrupted.

Since that day, I’ve found a new rhythm. The rhythm of recovery. This rhythm has brought about incredible change and breakthroughs in my life. But unfortunatly over the past few months I’ve allowed outside fears, threats and distractions to interrupt my new found rhythm.

I know that I am not alone in this confession. I know many of you reading this would agree that life has interrupted your rhythm and caused you to get off beat. The sad thing is, it only takes a few small choices to lose the steady positive tempo our lives need to thrive.

Today, I am challenging myself and all my readers to find a new rhythm or to re-establish a past positive rhythm. Our lives desperately need a confident cadence to walk to. We need a tempo to dance to, a routine to follow and regular accountability to help guide us through the ups and downs of life.

For me, re-establishing a rhythm of recovery means my life can have meaning again. Because when I’m out of rhythm, I’m focused entirely on myself and that’s not healthy. God doesn’t work through selfish people. God works through people who are surrendered completely to His will, His ways & His rhythms.

Today, my prayer is that his post would wreck the negative rhythms in your life and challenge you to begin a new beat. I pray you start a fresh rhythm and that this rhythm brings about a mighty breakthrough in your life.

Application:

What do you need to do to start a new rhythm in your life? What do you need to stop? Start? Who can you share this with to ensure accountability in your life?

2 Things That Will Get You Drunk

I’ve had the privilege of working with tons of recovering addicts over the past 5 years. Lots of them are doing well today, some of them are still trying to figure it out, and many of them never made it past the first few months.

Why? Well, there are lots of contributing factors, but in my experience there are a couple glaringly obvious things that will get you drunk faster than you can say Cooter Brown.

Check them out…

1. Relationships

There’s an unwritten rule of recovery that says you’re NOT allowed to be in relationships within the first year. I swear, if people would just follow this one rule, the relapse rate would be cut in half in a matter of months. But most addicts refuse to follow this. They are stubborn and don’t like to be told what to do. Real big surprise, huh?

The reason why this is stressed so strongly in most treatment facilities and certainly in the HIA Mentoring Homes, is because addicts early on are just not ready emotionally to be in a relationship. For the first time in years, they are just beginning to feel their own feelings, which means they are in NO position to take on someone else’s.

On top of that, relationships takes energy. Energy we early addicts don’t have. For the first year of our recovery, our full energy should be focused on working OUR program and growing our connection spiritually.

As hard as this is for some of you to hear, early sobriety should be a very self-centered program. There will come a time to focus on others, a time to make amends and start working on finding healthy relationships. But the first year of your sobriety is not that time. This is the time to just focus on you.

Keep your eyes on the prizes, your hands off other people, and you’ve got a good chance at this…

2. Pride

Pride = Relapse

every. single. time.

If you have a big dose of pride, you probably have a very small amount of surrender. I would even go as far as saying the opposite of recovery is not relapse, but pride. Because true recovery starts and ends with humility. Every basic tenant of recovery requires a large dose of humility to accomplish. If you lack humility, then you have no shot.

Pride will keep you from going to sober living.

Pride will keep you from going to meetings.

Pride will keep you from sharing in meetings.

Pride will tell you it’s ok to have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Pride will tell you that no higher power can ever change you.

Pride will convince you that you don’t need a sponsor.

Pride will whisper in your ear that no one ever needs to know your secrets.

Pride will tell you that however many days you have accumulated, you’ve done it on your own.

Pride is a killer.

If you want to stay clean, start by staying humble.

There is one relationship you can have in early sobriety and it will also help you take care of that pride issue. That relationship is with God. What I hope you find in that relationship is a friend that will stick by your side forever. Someone who will listen to you, love you, and fight for you while you try to change your life.

I use this prayer every morning to help remind me that I need God and that I am not him.

God, I offer myself to Thee. To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always! Amen

In summary, stay away from relationships and stay close to God. You do those 2 things, good chance that bottle never hits your lips.

I Almost Relapsed on the 4th of July

“I Will Not Use, No Matter What!”

I wrote that phrase in my lecture notebook during my stay at Rob’s Ranch, and I still remember the exact moment I wrote it. A feeling of strength came over me as I made a personal mandate that I was done with my old way of living.

This statement became my mandate and it has pulled me out of many traps the past few years; but one such occasion stands out.

Like an idiot, I took off by myself (not something I would suggest early in recovery) on a camping trip to Roman Nose State Park near Yukon, Oklahoma. I was looking forward to this trip—just me and Mother Nature for an entire week. I was convinced I would spend the time sitting outside my RV, writing, reading books, and enjoying the scenery, undisturbed for days.

It was gonna be good, the only problem was I forgot what weekend it was. I was so focused on packing the right stuff, getting out there, and getting set up that I totally forgot the date.

It was 4th of July weekend . The year, 2012.

Now, I am not a complete idiot. I had realized it was a holiday week, I just didn’t realize everyone would stay at the state park the entire weekend! Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by thirty other RVs full of people partying and partying hard.

So there I was, all alone, stuck in between what sounded like some pretty quality parties. I had no accountability (first mistake) and nowhere I needed to be for days. I have to admit I had some pretty troubling thoughts that first night. But each time my mind wandered into a thought like No one will ever know or You can have a few beers, what’s it gonna hurt? something would click inside my head and I would immediately begin to speak my mandate quietly to myself.

That weekend, saying “I Will Not Use, No Matter What!” as my mandate statement became a habit that has stuck with me every day since. I made it through that camping trip and came home stronger than ever in my sobriety. While I should never have put myself in that situation in the first place, I view that time as a turning point in my recovery. It was one of the most tempting times I had experienced, and I came out of it victorious.

I knew I could do it.

So what is your mandate? Have you ever sat down and thought about it? Do you have a statement you live by, something that drives you forward or keeps you on track? Use whatever analogy you would like for your mandate.

Call it your rudder, your barometer, your compass, your GPS—whatever you want. Just get one that means something to you and convicts your heart to act. That is the most important facet of a moving mandate. It must have a passion behind it that will stir you to action.

Keys to a good mandate statement:

  • Keep It Short. A mandate statement should be between five and ten words max; a phrase you can memorize within a few minutes. You want it to be something your brain will immediately turn to at a moment’s notice in the heat of battle.
  • Keep It Specific. Make your personal mandate attributable to your life experience, addiction, or struggle. It should be a command that will instantly speak to you while pointing to your future.
  • Keep It Singular. A mandate should have meaning behind it that draws you to a certain time in your life or particular emotion you’ve experienced, acting as a verbal reminder of who you once were and what would happen if you made the wrong choice. It should be uniquely singular to you.

If you have a mandate statement let us know by leaving it in the comments section. If not, write one up now.  I’d love to know what drives you to stay clean, make the right choices, or just stay on track every day.

This is an excerpt from my first book, Hope is Alive. It’s part autobiographical and part practical advice on how to stay sober in the modern world. You can pick it up here.

Give Hope for Christmas!

This past year I’ve met a lot of incredible people. Two of them stopped by Hope HQ this week to drop off some gifts. This Christmas will be their first without their son, whom they lost to addiction this past year. But they are not alone, hundreds of others in our cities, churches & communities are grieving this same pain and loss. This season will not be easy for them, so let’s take a moment to pray for these families.

But even more than a prayer, take action. Call them, love them, support them. Let them know you care, that they are not forgotten and neither is their loved-one. 

Give them the hope they may need to make it through this first Christmas. We can’t always give money, time or gifts, but we can always give hope.

And that’s a gift that keeps on giving.

-Hope is Alive

The “Key” To My Sobriety (Guest Post)

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation–some fact of my life–unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. –Alcoholics Anonymous pp. 417. (more…)

New Book Announcement!

I’m so excited to make this BIG announcement! It’s been a long time coming, but today is finally the day! It’s with great anticipation that I announce today that my new book, “Finding Hope, A Field Guide for Families Affected by Addiction” is set to release on August 14th!

For over a year now God has been stirring up inside of me a compassion for families. A longing to help loved ones of addicts understand three things:

YOU are not alone

 It’s not YOUR fault

There is HOPE!

Families of addicts and their plight has been a heavy burden on my heart for years now and I am really pumped to share with you this powerful message.

But the new book is not the most exciting news of the day. What’s really special about todays’ announcement is the co-authors of my next book, my parents, Dr. Wendell and Pam Lang. I’m so thrilled that they have chosen to travel this journey with me and they are the perfect people to speak to what addiction can do to a family.

By my parents choosing to join me on this book I believe we have written something very special, quite revealing and extremely informative.  With that said, this book won’t give you “five steps to straightening out your kid”, but it will show you that second chances are possible and give you real ways in which you can find hope in what seems like a hopeless situation.

The book will also give people the real perspective on what it’s like to raise a child who happens to be a drug addict. It will talk about the pain, the confusion, the drama, the heartache and the fear it leaves you with. The book will give you the truth about what worked with me and what I have seen work with hundreds of other addicts I’ve worked with.

Why write this?

Over the past several months I’ve been bombarded with this glaring revelation. Loved ones of addicts feel just as lost and lonely as the addicts themselves. Loved ones want to break free, just like an addict, but they don’t know how. Loved ones long for a life of freedom, but instead succumb to a prison cell of shame. The comparisons between addicts and loved ones of addicts are endless. Ultimately the struggles are staggeringly similar.

Week after week I meet with parents and spouses who look at me and with tears in their eyes utter these words….

“We just don’t know what to do.”

It’s because of these people and the tears I’ve watched them cry that I set out to write this new book. It’s my hope that this book will help provide some answers, insight and ultimately hope to the thousands of families in our communities battling addiction issues inside their homes.

My parents and I are super excited to share more with you in the coming weeks. Including some sneak peeks at some of the chapters, some potential book covers, along with previews of the interviews I conducted in preparing to write the book. So stay tuned to this blog and my social media channels so you don’t miss anything!

To make sure you don’t miss any updates, sign up here to receive my emails. I promise not to send more than a couple a week.

Save the Date – The new book “Finding Hope” drops on August 14th!


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