A Musical Journey Through Addiction and Recovery

This page, unlike the other “Music” pages on this site, features songs that I did not write. Instead, I wish to use some of the songs that other people have written to tell a story, with musical accompaniment, about a journey through addiction and recovery. You often hear people in 12-step meetings describing their history, with whatever their drug of choice might have been, as being “fun for a while, then fun with problems, then just problems.” There are more than enough songs about the “fun” stage of addictions, so this story starts with one of the early “problem” stages: the point at which you discover that your drug of choice is no longer delivering the benefits you sought from it. Merle Haggard describes this as the night “the bottle let me down”:

Faced with this first disappointment, however, most of us didn’t abandon seeking relief from our drug of choice, hoping that consuming still more of it might bring back the “fun” experiences of early addiction. More and more consumption leads to more and more problems, until you finally feel like you’re under a “ribbon of darkness”:

Faced with all the problems it has caused, you might even start realizing that your drug of choice, however much you might have loved it, has never really loved you back. In fact, you start realizing that it’s been a pretty abusive relationship, and you’ve been the victim. It almost seems to be telling you, like an abusive lover, “That’s what you get for loving me”:

The experience of “hitting bottom” is probably different, in its specific details, for every addict; but by the time you reach that “bottom”, whatever it might involve, there is one feeling we all come to realize, finally: “We gotta get out of this place”:

Many of us, in the process of trying to deal with the problems caused by our drug of choice, have gone through something resembling the five stages of grief described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. This includes denial (“I can’t be an alcoholic– I’ve got a regular job, and I’ve never been arrested.”); anger (“Don’t nag me about drinking– I’m not hurting you!”); bargaining (“Well, if I only drink on week-ends, is it really a problem?”); and depression (“I’m just a hopeless drunk– there’s really nothing I can do about it.”). Having “hit bottom”, though, we finally realize that the final stage, acceptance, means that the only solution is giving it up completely: no matter how hard that may be, it’s “quittin’ time”:

Having decided to give up whatever drug we were so dependent upon, though, we also realize that is not likely to be easy, or something we can do on our own (although some of us take longer to realize this than others). If we’re going to be successful at this, we’re going to need a little help:

The best place to get that help, it turns out, is from people who have had the same problems that you did, and have figured out how to deal with them successfully. No matter what your drug of choice might have been, there’s probably a 12-step group that helps with that kind of problem within reach of wherever you live. One of the key principles that these groups operate on is that you don’t have to commit to staying clean or sober for the rest of your life, or even the rest of this year– just one day at a time:

And as a section of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” known as “The Promises” says, if you’re painstaking about this phase of your development, you’ll be amazed before you’re halfway through. If you stick with it, things will really start to get better, and it’s almost like the sun coming out after a long winter:

Finally, looking back from this much better place, you might recall the long-ago put-down that you imagined getting from your drug of choice (“That’s what you get for loving me”), and decide that it’s time to send a very different kind of message in return:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey, and the music accompanying it, and that you are enjoying a real-life journey to a better life, as well.

Contact me about this page, or any of the songs on it: