Alumni Perspective: A deeper understanding

by Susan M. (Munro 2010)

PET_-_Human_Addiction-240x180Drinking changed my thinking.  It became the dictator inside my brain for about 10 years and during this time it just picked up steam – the steam being resentments, guilt and shame that took over the person I used to be.

After a lifetime of serving the bottle, my only alternatives were to surrender or die. I finally surrendered and entered treatment at Renascent three years ago.

While in treatment, Dr. Tarman, Renascent’s Medical Director, gave us a presentation on the neuroscience behind addiction, which described exactly what I was going through: my addled brain was trying to heal, and it was slow and argumentative.

Dr. Tarman told us that the amygdala and other hot-wired connections are the wrenches in the engine that kept us actively involved with our addictions.  Our suffering from chemical hangovers was destructive and left us with obsessive and chaotic brain noise in need of addressing.

This makes sense to me and I have really taken to the idea that yes, my thinking became selfish and obsessive. But the neuroscience of addiction also reveals that we have a huge opportunity to change the way we think and act, to search outside of ourselves, to care for others more than ourselves, and to progress toward serenity.

Accepting that this disease polluted my thinking and caused me to dwell on my resentments gave me insight into how the tools of the program work: the slogans, daily meditations, routine step study with a sponsor and clearing away my negative reactive behaviours.

My solution comes from the steps of recovery, particularly Step Eleven: “Sought through prayer and meditation” to keep my constant connection with my Higher Power … and to heal in a way that is nurturing and beneficial for me.  This is self care and it can only happen when I examine my defects of character and become willing to discuss them and pray for their removal.

Dr. Tarman also pointed out that our minds and bodies are connected and work together and that we need to be actively involved in healing both. When I entered treatment I was definitely sick in both mind and body.  I had been physically and emotionally injured from the tumbles and depressions of my drinking years. This made my body weak and vulnerable.  I had tried to control my pain by drinking but this was no longer a healthy option for me.

So I joined fitness classes and began taking my yoga seriously.  The freedom from pain and the relief from the obsessions have given me a new body: upright, strong and energized.  I realize this will need to be a lifetime of discipline and courage and can only be accomplished with contented sobriety.

Today, I can control the pain. Today, I want to be a productive person contributing to society, a loving family member and a participant on the pathway to serenity. I want to be present and accountable.

Thanks to Renascent and Dr. Tarman I have been incarnated to a new life and a deeper understanding of my addiction.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email