Moments of clarity only offer a glimpse of freedom to an addict. True recovery lies in a much deeper understanding of one’s reality, and the will to move away from it.

After 27 years of recovering from my own drug and alcohol addiction, it’s still a misunderstood malady. Non-addicts wonder how addicts can choose to ignore the obvious, remain unemployable, put their kids and spouses through the wringer, steal from friends and family, throw everything away, and not use the brain God gave them—all in the name of using their drug of choice.

From the outside in, it appears selfish, hurtful, and nonsensical. Why don’t they just stop?

Believe it or not, addicts have few opportunities to see their current reality. They live in a denial-fueled haze—an alternate reality—that allows them to continue feeding the inner beast running the show: the addict voice.

Occasionally, the haze lifts for a brief moment, giving the addict a glimpse into his or her life as it actually is. In recovery, we call this “a moment of clarity.” If addicts act quickly during one of these fleeting windows and seek help, they have a chance out of their abyss. If not, the window shuts and they return to feeding their addiction.

Moments of clarity offer addicts a chance to see how far they’ve slid down their slippery slope—to review the bottom they’ve hit. For some, it’s a jolt of truth, spurring action. For others, it’s not far enough.

Every addict has a different bottom. Mine happened while I was still pretty young—age 25. I’d known for years I was blowing it. When that moment of clarity came, I looked in the mirror and knew I wanted a different life. When I got help through 12-step meetings, some recovering alcoholics told me they’d spilled more booze than I’d drank. At that age, I didn’t have a family to lose, but I’d already jeopardized jobs and strained many relations. I’d stolen. I’d lied. I’d nearly died. I knew if I kept on the path, I’d be miserable and unable to participate in life on a meaningful level—or I’d suffer the terrible alternatives of jail, institutions, or death.

I’m not sure why some addicts can have a moment of clarity, seek help, and be on their recovering way, while others will struggle for the rest of their lives to get clean and stay sober. I had to grasp and cling to every recovery tool given to me from the outset—whether I believed in it or not—until I began to change what was so wholly broken inside.

No one can make an addict “get it.” They need divine timing, profound desire, and the will to go to any lengths to find ultimate freedom. Your thoughts and prayers won’t hurt, either.


— Help is ALWAYS closer than you think. Five local resources for those in need:

Narcotics Anonymous (800-777-1515) reveals locations for any NA meeting in the country. And click here for full  schedules for AA and NA meetings locally.

Celebrate Recovery is a local group doing big things for addicts in the area. They can be reached at 304-262-6522.

The Jefferson County Day Report Center is located at 106 East Washington Street in Charles Town, WV. They provide assessments, treatment programs, community service, and drug monitoring for non-violent offenders. They can be reached by phone at 304-728-3527.

Eastridge Health Systems is located at 340 Edmond Road, Suite D, in Kearneysville, WV. They address treatment and provide a wealth of recovery options. Reach them at 304-725-7565.

Oxford House Martinsburg (820 N. Queen St.) is a democratically run, self-supporting, and drug-free home—with both men’s and women’s locations in Martinsburg, WV. Reach them at 304-350-8385.

— Katherine Cobb is a freelance writer and novelist. She can be reached here.

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