96: What Does Being Clean Really Mean? (Sort Of)

We call ourselves clean. And most of us think we know exactly what that means. But what does it really mean when someone says they are clean? Are they clean like us? Are they cleaner? Less clean? When someone gets a keytag or medallion, do we really know what they are celebrating being free from? Is it complete abstinence from ALL drugs, including caffeine and nicotine? Have they never taken prescriptions that are mind or mood altering? Have they never received pain medication after a surgery? Do they take mind and mood altering medication from a psychiatrist? Why are caffeine and nicotine considered different and allowable? If someone has 22 years “clean,” then has a motorcycle accident and is forced to take pain management for the rest of their lives, are they no longer clean? And if all of this idea of clean is debatable, why do we hold so strongly to the idea that suboxone isn’t clean? Is suboxone used to treat addiction, or just heroin overuse? Wasn’t the drug use just a symptom of the actual addiction that we are trying to treat? We debate all these questions and more. Listen in and then let us know what you think clean is and why. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason i’m a guy who has always considered himself clean but i’m not so sure anymore and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and jenny’s here with us today hi i’m here and we’re gonna yeah well i’m jenny and i’m sober i thought i’d throw that one in there he’s a tea totaler yeah uh so we’re we’re gonna talk about the idea of being clean and and what that really means i i think i’ve always thought i knew what that meant and and i don’t know further thought and discussion maybe i’m not so sure but before we hop into that i did want to mention uh john b uh he’s a runner apparently because that’s in his instagram name that he’s a runner uh and i think i’ve actually seen running video of him he runs a long distance um but he he commented on our moving episode and he said that it was a good listen he said he’s a believer in attending meetings in the location you’re moving to ahead of the move and then letting them know you’re moving soon and he his belief is to get a new sponsor in home group asap and you know whether you let go of your old group gradually or or right away doesn’t make a difference but it was interesting because you know when we had that talk uh the gentleman didn’t change sponsors like he’s like 10 years into this move and he’s still got his sponsor from his original location and and you mentioned sponsoring a guy that moved to florida for a good amount of time like you know but i think his theory is you need to change and get somebody in your your proper location um another comment we had gotten was about the aaa episode and this is kind of long so bear with me uh the easier softer way said love this episode funny when i started going to aaa they said the same thing that n a or n ayers still drank alcohol when i first got sober i assumed i’d go to n a and in fact i’m in pennsylvania i went to some good n a well in treatment but when i moved to florida shortly after there were less n a within walking distance and the one i went to was not very good seemed like a lot of bragging about how much worse each other’s habits were like a pissing match or something uh never went back lived close to some aaa and just stuck with it that was in the early 2000s i’m sure it’s changed since then but it’s it’s funny some of the language i think because i was so desperate at the time and saw it working for others i didn’t care about what language i used it could have been in latin and i still would have been down as far as mentioning drugs in the meeting it’s been a long time since anyone had a problem with that and i hardly know anyone at aa meetings that didn’t also do drugs but that wasn’t the case in the early 2000s and i remember people saying this is a a where we talk about alcohol i remember resenting it too but a drug is a drug is a drug and i learned that it didn’t matter that i could say alcohol or alcoholic and have it be all-encompassing i think much of that is gone as many of those old-timers are gone current generation of old-timers are from the 60s right anyway been loving the podcast especially related to the guest experience including the back to basics and multiple times through the steps in different ways something’s working so thank you people for for the comments thank you julie thank you sarah for the continued contributions to help us make this work yes thank you appreciate it pretty awesome and we’re apparently we’ve moved up on that blog list of top recovery blogs to number three now so awesome

but either way we’re number three so [ _ ] it um so clean right we’re having this discussion yesterday we got to hang out outside of doing the podcast for a little while which was fun and you know i went i had to share a meeting i ended up talking about the the gentleman that was a friend of mine that had passed away you know he would have been there at that meeting like that was our next planned event to meet up at and uh just got to kind of thinking about that how we say like you know this one or that one died clean and and they got their infinity medallion and all this great sound and [ _ ] that we say when people die i guess to try to make ourselves feel better but the fact of the matter is and i’m not i’m not down in my friend that has passed away and maybe it’s not the fact of the matter because facts are pretty subjective a lot of times but this dude was like between 350 and 400 pounds right he had nine years clean and didn’t pick up a drug again but was he really free from active addiction right how many meals did he sit at saying i should probably not eat more of this and yet i don’t have control over this next choice right just like the drug in my mind and this isn’t a belittling of him i sit here i vape i got my own vices that i struggle to say no to or that maybe control me but i look at it and i say is that really i’m like what the [ _ ] does that even mean for being clean right he’s still struggling with addiction obviously it [ _ ] killed him as far as i’m concerned granted some other factors go into heart attacks but like i’m sure the obesity problem did not help and so this really got us me and billy and another gentleman talking about the idea clean and what that means and so i wanted to come on i i we also talked about the whole suboxone thing and na’s view of that and it was a lengthy discussion but so i guess i have always assumed when i go in a meeting and somebody picks up a six month key tag a multiple year key tag they’re celebrating the anniversary besides the fact that i’m like [ _ ] it’s an anniversary i don’t want to be here anymore um i’m like oh i know what that means about them that means they’re clean and that means they don’t use drugs i guess and i’ve always just taken that for granted and thinking more about it i don’t know what the [ _ ] that means right uh i celebrate clean time right i pick up a key tag i definitely drink coffee caffeine is a drug it’s listed it’s mind and mood altering i definitely sit here each week and vape that’s a nicotine is a drug it’s minor mood altering right if i when i had a surgery in recovery i took prescription narcotics because that’s what i was suggested by the professionals that’s my under mood altering that’s a drug i have taken depression medication prozac i’m assuming that’s altering my mind and mood right people take xanax when prescribed like what the [ _ ] does clean really mean and do i know i think i know a lot littler about when people say they’re clean now than i used to thinking about that so that’s where we’re starting yeah and i have had the same i guess i don’t know struggle i wouldn’t call it a struggle but the same thoughts about being clean and what that means and and abstinence from drugs and we actually had some people in this area a few years back that argued that alcohol and tobacco were using that if you were using i mean not alcohol i’m sorry caffeine yeah alcohol is using for sure um you know that caffeine and nicotine were using and that in their meetings they were telling people if you used caffeine or nicotine you were not clean and in the area it was a big uproar and they tried to get them removed from the meeting schedule and all sorts of stuff but and we did reach out to this is in narcotics anonymous we reached out to world services and asked them their opinion of that stuff and they didn’t have a very clear opinion they didn’t have a answer you know so any world service might think caffeine and nicotine is used yeah well so the kind of and i can’t remember now because that was probably 18 17 18 years ago if not longer and i can’t remember specifically the language but the general uh takeaway that i remember from what their response was was that these are personal decisions that’s why you have a sponsor and a support group and a network and you guys talk about those things and figure out what does that mean to you you know if you’re on you know medication prescribed by a doctor you know whether you’re clean or not is i mean it’s everybody has opinions on [ _ ] it doesn’t really matter it’s really up to the individual to decide what that means for them and whether that’s you know whether they want to consider themselves clean or not one i think that’s where it gets super interesting right because part of the discussion we had uh after lunch yesterday was the idea of somehow we can definitely assuredly believe that people on suboxone are not clean right they don’t fit into the n a version of complete abstinence and this caffeine nicotine idea really got me thinking of well we’ve kind of the only distinction between caffeine nicotine and any other drug is the fact that we as a society or we as a group of people in this fellowship have decided they’re acceptable right there’s no other distinction there’s no biological or scientific distinction between them right like they’re all drugs they’re all classified the same if you look at the science so if we can decide that why can’t it be just as easy to say [ _ ] it people in suboxone ain’t dying they’re clean why do we even need to argue like that’s where i found it really fascinating that we like hold steadfast to this idea that no suboxone can’t be clean it’s endangering our program but it’s like well we just [ _ ] decided that caffeine and nicotine were clean how just because we [ _ ] wanted to right like i well i don’t know just because we wanted to there is a level of uh whatever you call it legality and social acceptability the caffeine and nicotine that you know back 10 years ago even suboxone wasn’t the type of conversation that it is now like it’s it’s way more relevant now and some people’s attitudes in 12 step fellowships are changing i believe you had said you heard a lady say she was celebrating 10 years and eight of that she was on maintenance yeah so she obviously that’s a new ad like five years ago right and that but i mean just that thing that’s a whole new attitude that you would not have heard 10 or 15 years ago like no one would have let that [ _ ] person well right well and that was my baffling question at the time i was like somewhat offended right and i was like yeah oh my god people let her celebrate for eight years and now i look at it and i say what are you doing but i look at it and i say what if they wouldn’t have let her celebrate would she be the one who went out and overdosed because she was shamed and pushed away and disconnected and i think that’s a lot of my argument right how many people are we hurting by saying you’re not clean instead of just letting them hang out until they decide if they decide they want something different right and that’s where i think our recovery language of clean relapse chronic relapse separation disconnection shame a lot of our language seems shame-based and that’s what i think i’m i’m somewhat offended by and and i guess my argument against your social acceptability of tobacco and nicotine is that alcohol has that same social acceptability and yet we don’t make that distinction that we can do that so we have arbitrarily decided that nicotine and caffeine are acceptable for no good reason just because we want to yeah sort of i mean i would agree to some extent i would say there’s a little bit of difference most people are not you know spending their entire bank accounts on coffee and cigarettes well okay i would actually like in a family car i would say there’s plenty of people who can’t move up to the next socio-economic level because they buy a carton of cigarettes each week or because they’re at starbucks twice a day every day getting a seven dollar drink right and they don’t feel the ability to not do those kind of behaviors and i i think really the distinction for us is that the consequences probably aren’t as big right they’re not as big and obvious and visible not many people get locked up for smoking too many cigarettes or for you know snatching the old lady’s purse to get a coffee from starbucks like i don’t hear that too much on the news but right they don’t generally have the extremes of unmanageability that come along with other using of other yeah but i mean i i don’t know so what is na’s definition of clean you said you found that what is that uh yeah so they have an uh informational pamphlet in narcotics anonymous that they released four uh treatment providers that provide medicated assisted treatment and in there it says helpful explanation of common na terms and one of those terms is clean and it says clean n a typically refers to being free of all drugs or abstinent however an addict who is not clean is free to attend meetings we hope through attending a meeting addicts will gain a sense of belonging and identification with other recovering addicts abstinence and membership are not synonymous terms membership is based on its desire to stop using not abstinence itself our program of recovery begins with abstinence from all drugs including alcohol sometimes people come to na meetings while still using drugs detoxing from drugs or on a replacement therapy regardless of what you may be taking when you first come to na you are welcome so so go back to that clean thing abstinent from all drugs was the clean definition typically refers to being free of all drugs or abstinence so did you have coffee this morning i’m having coffee now i had coffee this morning and i’m vaping so we’re both using yeah by that definition like if we’re gonna say free from all drugs there’s no distinction in that and yet we readily make one for these circumstances that we decided were okay but we’re still so hard-pressed to say we can’t make that distinction for suboxone do we need a clarification of illicit drugs is that a word alcohol is not illicit is it i don’t i’m not even sure what elicit means i think it means illegal i’ve just heard that so sounds fancy it makes me sound it doesn’t matter when i say illicit

that’s n a’s definition of cl recovery dharma what does recovery dharma say about clean and abstinence and using we’re going to get you in here we’re waiting for your time yeah no i i was so fascinated listening um i mean let me just interject too like is the difference just the legality like so suboxone is prescribed like is that and so it’s legal i know people can abuse prescribed drugs but if you’re just using it as prescribed then is that well you know that’s where it gets trickier i think because we talked about this billy brought up yesterday the idea of somebody who ends up in chronic back pain might get prescribed a narcotic for the rest of their life but we kind of waffle on whether they’re clean or not yeah that was a little trickier so na does take a more specific stance on drugs used to treat addiction so in narcotics anonymous you know the belief is that we use the 12 steps and the spiritual principles within the 12 steps to treat addiction we don’t use a drug so like a maintenance program is using a drug to treat addiction where we use a different method methodology to treat it i would actually disagree with that though i don’t think we use suboxone to treat addiction as defined in narcotics anonymous because we say addiction is all-encompassing it’s not the drugs you used so really suboxone is used to treat a heroin problem an opiate problem people still would need to work on their addiction to not overeat to not over sex to not cheat on their wife to not gamble their life savings away like the addiction piece would still be there suboxone is not treating that it’s treating the heroin use so by na’s definition i would say that’s actually but i think narcotics anonymous designs it’s i mean identifies itself as treatment from drug addiction like that’s where our identification comes no way no way it definitely says in our literature that it’s it’s all encompassing and it’s about the allergic reaction we have to substances and behaviors and something along those lines i can’t quote it because i’m not a [ _ ] literature quarter but it definitely talks about the addiction being more than just the drug it’s the obsession and compulsion that takes us over so if you take suboxone for for heroin right but you honestly believe i mean you’ve been around long enough you honestly believe that n a is really for gambling addicts sex addicts that that they will be able to come here and feel comfortable and be at home here and that this program really is for everyone or it’s really for people with a drug problem i believe it is for people who have had drugs as a manifestation of their addiction but ultimately if you’re really recovering it is a program about the underlying addiction not about the drugs so no for some people i wouldn’t even i mean i would say if you just come here and get clean i don’t think you’re in recovery right but that’s an opinion that you have that’s i wouldn’t say that’s the stance of narcotics anonymous sure it is if you’re not working the 12 steps you’re not working the program that actually is not true so there is a reading in our and i learned this because i thought the same thing so i just learned this recently there’s a reading in one of our daily meditations that says the program is going to meetings the fellowship the 12 steps like it says that the program specifically is all of those things that’s right so if you’re not doing some of those then you’re not really working the program you’re working half the program maybe i mean so what’s the i mean so i guess what are you trying to distinguish like you’re a member when you say you are and the only requirement for membership is a desire to start the fellowship but what are you trying to distinguish i’m trying to say that i i don’t think our i mean the question was is our program there to treat addiction or is it there to treat drug addiction and our program i believe narcotics anonymous says clearly in its literature our program is to treat the narcotics anonymous program i’m saying our yeah is to treat addiction now we welcome in people who have manifested that addiction in the area of drugs at some point in time i don’t think see i look at it complete opposite do you think it’s primarily to treat drug addiction and if you use it in all areas of your life it can help you in all those other areas but i look at it the opposite like my thing is n a is you know because that’s why like me personally i would encourage people if they have like gambling issues or other issues i would encourage them to seek help in those fellowships you know what i mean i don’t think that and they can help people we find those issues i mean okay let me rephrase that it can help but i don’t think that’s going to be a primary source for them i think seeking help outside of one fellowship for specific issues with another addiction is very very useful well and this is where it gets tricky right i think if gambling was only your ever problem if that’s the only place you’ve ever seen the disease manifest then you probably don’t belong in n a to begin with but if you’ve come here because drugs have been part of your problem and n a helps you with that i think the program is sufficient to help you with any manifestation that comes after you put down the drugs i would still suggest people go to those other outside fellowships just for the ability to relate in and feel connected to people who also have that problem i feel like going to those fellowships if i’m a sex addict and i go to a sex addict fellowship i feel a lot less shame because i meet other people like me and i don’t feel alone so i don’t it’s not that i think necessarily that their program is better able to treat these things it’s the same 12 steps and we use them exactly the same way i just think it’s for the identity and the comparison in that helps and a place to talk about those specific issues because you don’t want to go into a n a meet and share about i gambled all my money last night or that’s my only issue i am and again i’m not the exact literature guy either but i would definitely say in our literature it’s pretty clear it’s about drug addiction and that yes it can help you with all these other things but i don’t i don’t think as a program we’re not like we really think we can fix all your problems like i don’t think that’s i’m pretty sure does aa say that they can fix everyone’s problems with everything good question i you know i don’t know you’re not you’re the spokesman they got 12 promises i’m definitely not like an a lawyer like you guys are n a lawyers but um we aren’t we just think we just pretend yeah obviously what we’re talking about but i uh while you guys were talking i remember so aa has the the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking and then we’ll get hung up in discussions about that because then there’s folks who are on the marijuana maintenance program so they’ll come into aaa but they think smoking pot’s fine and then so they’ll be but the only requirement is a desire to stop drinking so i’m i’m cool right and actually now that marijuana is like on the border of being legal and i think people are abusing uh prescribed marijuana they’re like oh i gotta you know i gotta pass it’s prescribed but i’m like uh is that really how you’re supposed to use it but you know i don’t know i you know that’s not really my world or field of expertise but back when i went to a a lot when there was ever a tradition three topic that that was the argument and also while you guys were talking i remember this one guy in aaa who used to argue that allergy medicine was not sober um you know uh and then people around the room would snicker or whatever because a lot of people are on mental health related drugs to keep them stable so it’s not just giving up alcohol or marijuana or or pills but like some folks think yeah no coffee no nicotine no allergy medicine no uh like some people are bragging like i went through this without a aspirin and like well good for you buddy you know so here’s a quote from our basic text one of the first ones that mentions anything about it it says based on our experience we believe that every addict including the potential addict suffers from an incurable disease of body mind and spirit we were in the grip of a hopeless dilemma the solution of which is spiritual in nature therefore this book will deal with spiritual matters and to me that says that addiction is an underlying spiritual malady not a drug problem i’m just asking you as a rational human being do you really think that narcotics anonymous is not focused on treatment of the disease of drug addiction like did you go there would you tell someone who had some other kind of problem you should go to n a because they really help with every kind of addiction not just drug addiction you’ll hear a lot of drug talk there but that’s really not what they do that’s no no and again i think again i think that’s the distinction as long as drugs have been a manifestation of your addiction yes you’re welcome here i don’t so i think you had to have had a problem with drugs in order to first come but i’m pretty sure our literature states that the drugs are not the problem but that general concept is why i mean because what you’re really talking about is if this practice of 12 steps can work in anyone’s lives and that i think is a hundred percent true you can monkey around the wording because that’s what all the a fellowships do is we monkey around the wording in the 12 steps but it’s really the 12 steps that are a spiritual path to recovery and fulfillment of life it’s not specifically the fellowship i think where the fellowships distinguish is in what they use as their identification for their specific members that’s why people can go to let’s say aaa like we talked about with louis people can go to aaa and then use that for their drug addiction but they still try to use the language and identification of aa they don’t you know what i mean but they’re really just using the 12 steps and so we can take the 12 steps and monkey the words around a little bit and use them to treat any problem step one our inability to control our usage of drugs is a symptom of the disease of addiction so just like i would not say correct we say it’s a physical mental and spiritual disease right so just like i wouldn’t say my runny nose is my problem it’s the cold i have underlying that the drugs are not my problem it’s the actual addiction i have underlying that so if i create a hundred percent so i’m in here to treat addiction which is the point i was trying to make so it we’re just but you’re asking i’m saying suboxone does not treat the underlying addiction as was my point and you were saying suboxone treats drugs which it does but it doesn’t treat addiction it treats the runny nose it doesn’t treat the cold i don’t know enough about what the doctors say about that therapy to say whether they tell people they need other help or whether they don’t i just don’t know well the doctors aren’t treating addiction the doctors are treating a heroin problem they’re treating an opiate problem that’s what i’m getting at we’re saying you can’t use this only if you believe that addiction is a physical mental spiritual disease and that you believe that there’s other underlying symptoms and all these other things this program that’s what we’re talking about we’re talking about nasa yeah but na’s program is also about drug addiction like you can’t pick and choose pieces like it’s it’s the whole thing it’s treatment from a drug addiction with the 12 steps of narcotics anonymous i don’t know that’s not what i just read to me that’s like saying i i don’t i don’t get it like i i really can’t get where you’re coming from with that you don’t think n a is primary focus on drug addiction i think it treats people whose disease manifested in drugs which is what i keep trying to say but i don’t feel like so you think like if we were a treatment program for colds with people who had runny noses if you only had colds that gave you sore ears and a sore throat no you wouldn’t find much solace in our program but as long as you’ve had a runny nose at some point our program isn’t to treat the runny nose it’s to treat all of it yeah but we there’s also differences of opinion on how you treat let’s say a mental illness there are certain psychiatrists that believe the only thing you need to treat a certain mental illness is a drug you give the people that drug that’s what they need that’ll treat their mental illness then there’s other doctors that say no you need a more holistic approach whatever the doctors are telling the people you know like your belief is that addiction is this underlying thing with physical mental spiritual diseases and that’s what i believe as well that’s an a’s definition right but if i go to a doctor and they say oh you have addiction all you need is a suboxone have a nice day yeah but we’re not talking about whether the doctors think people on suboxone are clean we’re talking about does n a by its definition think people on suboxone are clean now we’re talking about whether treating addiction is with suboxone is treating addiction yes because na’s definition of i’m saying that’s an opinion well n a is saying if you use a drug to treat addiction you’re not clean and i’m saying suboxone is not used to treat addiction it’s used to treat an opiate problem and the addiction will still be there even if you treat the opiate problem by na’s definitions not by my opinion or a doctor’s opinion because na’s definition of addiction is not the drug use that’s a symptom of it but then you get into a whole thing can you really treat a spiritual condition if you’re under the influence of narcotics anonymous i mean if you’re under the influence of a drug like can you work steps and get the same benefits of the program with something that’s using people and you don’t prozac people do it on people right but that’s a whole there’s a whole but we say those aren’t being used to treat the addiction they’re being used to treat symptoms depression is probably a symptom of the disease of addiction right we’re treating yeah so we’re treating the symptom with the medicine just like we’re treating the opiate use with the medicine and now we’re going to work on treating addiction with the program of n a because addiction is not the drug use yeah it’s different though i mean it just to me it’s very different you’re you’re using a medication to treat your symptom and but it’s a very mind-altering symptom i’m just going with what the literature said it said that the drug use was not our problem that’s just the symptom of the disease of addiction and so if we’re all saying that suboxone only treats the symptom of addiction and i don’t know that that’s true yeah it only treats the fact that you use heroin it doesn’t like but it numbers the spiritual aspect of your whole i mean the people the reason people abusively use suboxone is it because it has definite effects on your mind and spirit know what else numbs the mind and spirit tobacco nicotine caffeine sex like food work all these things cell phones compulsive scrolling on cell phones any forms of addiction right it depends on how yeah what your addictive well and that’s what i’m saying we make these distinctions and let it be fine in other places but we’re so staunch about why suboxone is not okay and i just think that it i don’t know if it’s fine though like i wouldn’t say that like if i know i have a friend or someone i’m close to in a fellowship that’s struggling with other forms of addiction i don’t think i just go oh that’s cool just keep doing that that’s cool cheat on your wife and spend all your money that’s cool as long as you just stay clean that’s all that matters but you definitely don’t say they’re not clean no we have an understanding or a general understanding of what that term meant and what i’m getting at is that understanding is completely [ _ ] made up that’s what i’m saying we’ve completely made up and agreed upon it for the most part we all mostly agree consensus yeah there’s people that say nicotine and caffeine aren’t clean so we’ve mostly agreed upon this but honestly it’s completely [ _ ] made up it doesn’t really have a solid like these are the three qualifications and this is the basis for being clean and this is what it means yeah but you’re gonna have that with anything so i can’t just as easily welcome in people and suboxone and say [ _ ] it whatever well we do welcome and say you’re clean well that’s where you get no that doesn’t fit the language of our common understanding of what that means like back back to the what does recovery dharma say about it uh okay um and so we just i understand so you’re not clean in n a if you do suboxone is that correct at the moment that is the general that’s concentration sad because um i mean suboxone or methadone or any drug replacement therapy okay and that so you’re not clean until you’re done those until you’re done like your medically assisted treatment you don’t start clean time is that accurate some people so that’s been the generally accepted uh way for the last little bit it and that’s what we just mentioned earlier it seems to be changing a little bit in certain areas but for the most part if you’re on medicaid assistance people will tell you you’re not clean do you think it’s changing with the same rate as harm reduction as being more acceptable uh not as fast yes we have people that hold on to this kind of like hey holds on to the big book yeah you know like oh we got to keep this old wright brothers language and talk about you know for the wives and all that [ _ ] even though it doesn’t really make sense in 2021 it’s like oh we can’t change it it’s worked forever and there’s a lot of people that support and i would have been one of these people so i’m not trying to judge them too hard right but they say that our program is a program of complete abstinence and this is why it works and and what i’m trying to challenge in this episode is that whole complete absence thing is a [ _ ] because we use nicotine and caffeine and and other drugs as prescribed by doctors and b it’s all just [ __ ] made up that’s my my point because the so the three programs that we’re talking about so aanna and then recovery dharma or refuge recovery it’s all it comes back to intention i think all three of them use the word intention i love that so if your intention is to get clean and it’s like such a soft goal post you know like and then what does it matter i was thinking while you guys were talking what’s it matter anyway so you get a coin for a year it’s just like an attaboy you know like this is the problem in n a though so the clean time is like the biggest achievement goal and and level of respect and level of privilege or whatever like we hold it in too high of a regard in my you guys have like a cast system in it and see if this would hit differently okay so let’s say you have someone who’s in a a who’s a member been there celebrates anniversaries and then they go well my alcohol of choice was whiskey and now i don’t drink whiskey anymore but i have wine with dinner you know once a week or once a day but i’m still sober and i can still celebrate anniversaries

if they’re if they say well my intention isn’t to get drunk i’m not even getting drunk in fact i’m just drinking one or two glasses a day i don’t even really feel it before i go to bed would that feel the same to you or would you go oh that doesn’t sound sober that doesn’t sound so right yeah so that’s sort of as an addict like i it’s [ _ ] hard for me not to use drugs i would love to numb myself to the [ _ ] life because that just feels comfortable you know what i mean so and i’m not saying that’s what happens with maintenance i’m just saying that’s the perception of like i have done this really hard thing i have given up this thing and abstain from something that i want to do and the the general i would say feeling is that they’re taking the [ __ ] easy way and i had to do it the hard way and it’s like insulting i don’t think anybody could seriously go in front of a group of aas and be like i’m just drinking a little wine now and say they’re sober like and nobody would watch that type of series people want to do with maintenance okay i don’t feel that way i feel like i gained i’m the one who got all the gains of being completely abstinent in my version of completely abstinent and so i don’t feel like somebody else doing it even if we want to call it an easier way takes anything from me yeah suboxone’s prescribed wine isn’t ah so that’s where some of this gets tricky right and and that so that’s where this gets a little tricky and i’m really playing a lot of devil’s advocate here just for the fun of the conversation i my general belief is that i would take it as a one-on-one situation with an individual if i sponsored someone who was in a car accident and had to go on some sort of opiate or some sort of methadone for pain management that would be a really individual conversation that i would have to have with that person and sit down with before i would say you know yeah i support you in being clean or if i don’t know if i can support that like that would just be an individual conversation i would have but in general as a fellowship this idea of abstinence from i don’t know illicit illegal drugs including alcohol you know that’s like sort of the the line it’s not it gets a little blurry but it’s not as blurry within the fellowship like if you pulled 30 people in a meeting one would be confused and the other 29 would probably have a pretty similar opinion i would think i guess i’m the confused one no i don’t think you’re confused and again i actually in us talking i am way more sympathetic to some of this that i’m kind of letting on but the truth is i think it’s important that we maintain some line in the sand and we say this is what our fellowship is about and and we welcome anyone and anyone’s willing to come and it’s free to everyone who wants to try it but this is kind of what the way that we do it here and there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing but it’s not really right for you to come here and then tell us we need to change what we’re doing to suit some other way that’s that’s sort of where i kind of hold the line of like well this is the general consensus of what we believe this is what with the the general understanding of clean the general understanding of treating addiction you know this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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what if there was some way to numerically scientifically show that that message was actually assisting more people dying than helping more people would you say then that maybe narcotics anonymous has to change their ideas

well there’s a lot of ifs i mean would it change the how many people wouldn’t come or how many people would have issues if a bunch of people were on maintenance programs i mean you can’t measure out i mean i guess if you’re doing a net sum you know you could figure it out that way but i know like so there’s been a big issue with recovery housing in the area and a lot of recovery housing now you have to allow people on medicaid assisted treatment in to get funding from the state if you don’t if you have a completely abstinence based recovery house you can’t get certain funding and people that have been in those houses said they don’t like that because it puts them around people that are in their opinions using and it’s a trigger it it makes them want to use and you know i’m not saying they’re right or wrong i don’t know that i would necessarily support that either way i’m just saying you know those triggers if i come into a meeting and there’s someone sitting up there and they’re on [ _ ] some maintenance program and they’re nodding out and running the meeting i don’t know how much credibility i could give to that person and then in turn the fellowship i mean there’s dangers either way do they nod out when they’re using it as prescribed suboxone i don’t think so i don’t so i don’t know yeah and it’s hard to tell because it’s abuse or not correct and so that’s where some of that gets tricky because it’s the same with and again for me as an individual where i would want to sit down if someone’s on like say methadone for a maintenance program we all know people that have been on methadone like just to abuse it i mean i don’t know i don’t know another way to say it like they’re not trying to be clean they’re just trying to get off of street drugs which is great that’s there’s no problem with that there’s definite benefits to that i would support someone in wanting to do that i just wouldn’t say that you know they’re doing the same thing as yeah people want to talk about but you’ve also sat on this podcast and said you know talked about a book you read that you really believed in about how addiction is a lot about isolation right and how recovery is a lot about connection and getting away from that isolation and i think our language and the stance we’re taking is that shame-based isolating you can’t be one of us language and that’s what i think is the problem that i’m running into right like i i don’t think it’s inclusive like a people who asked me to sponsor them who have been high and i knew obviously when they were asking me to sponsor them they were high i said you know what i’m gonna [ _ ] give them my number and say call me like i do any other person because this is gonna take care of itself it’s gonna weed itself out i hate to say that but like or they’re gonna move towards getting clean like one of those two things is gonna happen and i didn’t think shaming them and cutting them off from a support system was the way to move towards recovery right and so i think our language and and our stance is pushing people towards the isolation that we believe and and you’ve talked about things ties into addiction and so i just feel like if we changed our stance we’re welcoming them into this connection that could further them to one day want to not be on suboxone or at least be healthier so i’m thinking again and what’s the big deal if they is it ego that you’re like i have 15 years of you know like genuine clean time and you just have you know seven because you’re on mats for eight years you know like i mean if you’re thinking about just is it the ego yeah oh 100 i think i mean well yeah i mean personally and i am just as guilty of as anybody all clean time is ego that’s just what i believe yeah i’ve considered that yeah it’s definitely all eight and a half years clean here right does does recovery dharma have a hard stance or definition of clean i feel like recovery darm because i don’t know i’ve never been there but i feel like with the buddhism involved it’s probably more like hey come here and try to be healthy and in touch with yourself no matter what the [ _ ] you’re doing exactly how we talk to each other i really hope so um you know abstinence is preferred so recovery dahm is a program that treats all addiction um and then you know they say primarily people who come to us is uh drug and alcohol but they know that people have the behaviors and like you know emotion addictions and people addictions and all the gambling and sex and everything else you guys listed um so the intention is abstinence and now in buddhism aside from recovery dharma or refuge um there’s the five precepts in buddhism you guys familiar anyway um so for the for the audit for the audience yeah so the five precepts in buddhism are this is the short version it’s a no no killing no lying no stealing no sexual misconduct and no uh intoxicants so this was written back in buddha days 2600 years ago so no intoxicants back then was mostly alcohol i don’t know if they just had they didn’t have drugs like they do they had pipes and [ _ ] did they were you not allowed to do any of that um did they well i don’t i know that from what i’ve been taught the same thing yeah drug addicts we think i guess alcohol was the big problem in the buddhist days this is what i was taught and um and so alcohol as an intoxicant i guess it decreases mindfulness which is a big you know principle practice in buddhism and also alcohol uh when you’re intoxicated you’ll be more likely to do the other precepts lying killing stealing sexual misconduct so they uh refrain from intoxicants now this is their definition of sexual misconduct because i want to know what’s okay yeah some of my practices might be we’ll talk after the show um so um uh

[ _ ] that all up yes um so the precepts are not like the ten commandments so in the western western world we often think the ten commandment says do this you’re gonna go to hell in buddhism it’s more like practice these precepts and you’ll have less suffering so you know it’s uh refrain from intoxicants if you want to suffer less so it’s not like a hard and fast rule it’s more like hey you know the less you do intoxicants like alcohol the less you and the people around you are going to suffer but it’s not like an absolute no so at the buddhist temple if your body was was drinking more than you thought was a good idea it’s not like oh my god you’re a sinner now because you’re [ _ ] up and taking intoxicants it’s more like what a funny scene i still love you right i i think you’d have less suffering if you didn’t do that but that doesn’t make you any less my equal like you’re the one who’s suffering from it unfortunately yeah right i hope you’d suffer less yeah for me that’s so just the problem right is that it’s not in you know within in a what we say is how we say it to people and i think we just like if people came in say they’re on maintenance welcome keep coming back you’re more than welcome to come here this is what should happen i’m not saying this does because this is not what happened i don’t think it’s enough but you know what we should be saying to people is welcome we help people with addiction you know if you want to get into whether you should be getting key tags and clean time and celebrating within your home group those are some issues you’re going to run into you know what i mean people are going to have strong opinions about that one way or the other i’ve talked to people that feel like you i know they do exist they aren’t very open because you’ll get attacked but but there are other people that feel this way there was an issue you know within a year or so ago where there was a person that wanted to celebrate they had two years you know clean but they had been on a maintenance program and their home group you know they had a sponsor in n.a who was helping them and the home group decided they didn’t want to allow that person to celebrate there so those things happen but it’s not like that person didn’t come very nice and get supported and have a support group and i don’t know what’s happened to them since i don’t maybe they stayed maybe they didn’t but i think the problem is not the stance it’s how do we treat people and i think we could definitely be more welcoming and compassionate and understanding about how we treat people but we have a fellowship in a program with certain beliefs and we don’t want to offend anyone and anyone’s welcome anyone can come but this is what we’re doing you know what i mean this is kind of how we’re doing it and if you want to do it this way we’ll help you do it this way we don’t know about this other way we don’t have an opinion on whether it works or not whether it’s good or not whether you should or not none of that is my [ _ ] business i don’t have any opinion about any of that my opinion is if you have a drug problem you can come here this is what we’re doing it’s free you can do this we love you we want you to be here but we don’t know about this other stuff i don’t we don’t have an opinion about that i don’t care if you’re mr rogers and you’re like hi ho neighbor it’s ned flanders right hiddley ho hey buddy welcome but you’re not clean like i don’t care how nicely you say it it’s [ _ ] shaming and disconnecting it’s pushing people away and if my belief is that connection is part of the healing in recovery that tends to lead to less addiction then [ _ ] whatever n a says even if their literature contradicts itself i need to live in that place of like you know what man if you think you’re clean i mean if every statement you make is you have to avoid hurting someone’s feelings and you can never hold a stance on anything i mean i’m going to have opinions that might hurt someone’s feelings if they’re overly sensitive that doesn’t mean i should just change my beliefs you know maybe not change the beliefs but don’t hold somebody else to your standard so and that’s what we’re doing because i never [ _ ] read the stories in the basic text but apparently in our basic text now there is a story about someone who was on a maintenance program that came and eventually got cleaned did they celebrate uh i don’t i didn’t read the [ _ ] story so i don’t know but it is it’s in the new basic text it’s in one of the new stories and they came around and eventually they got clean so that does happen and apparently they weren’t ridiculed and shamed you know out of here they stayed they got clean and now they have abstinence-based recovery within the fellowship so that does happen it is possible but you touched on a point there and you said you shouldn’t have to change your opinion and i’m not saying change your opinion i’m saying don’t hold others to your opinion when we don’t know because there’s no facts you it’s not the fact that we say hey my opinion on suboxone is that those people aren’t clean is that we’re saying you’re not clean and if that person believes they are it’s not in my [ _ ] business to tell them they ain’t and that’s the problem it’s not about you changing your opinion it’s about you holding others to that opinion if their opinion is that they’re clean [ _ ] it you’re clean bro i don’t know i i can’t say that i would agree with that i want to agree with it like it seems very evolved and uh um so yeah i don’t know i just i don’t i think we’re pushing people away trying to make them live by our beliefs and i think it’s an opinion yeah and and i and again a lot of this is it’s very open it’s not supposed to be i think they do this [ _ ] on purpose like we figured out with the traditions a lot of this stuff isn’t written in stone it’s like just commonly held beliefs which should be subject to discussion i mean that’s why i don’t mind talking about this stuff and mulling over these ideas because i i want to in the solution not the problem you know what i mean i want to help people but at the same time i i feel like there is a need to sort of protect and and defend what na has done for me in my life and i can’t say if it was different if it would have done the same thing so tell me this what did you say i would have had the same outcome with your caffeine today that problem that happened years back where the the group wanted to have no caffeine or nicotine in their clean version right the area decides yeah that’s that makes sense i get it right they are drugs [ _ ] it we’re all gonna believe that in this area and they tell you you can’t celebrate your next anniversary because you had caffeine do you stop going to the meetings whether you’re connected or they were nice to you or not yeah it’s hard to say i stopped going to meetings for way less than that well right but that’s what i’m saying so we’re we’re owning that we are pushing people out no matter how nice we are as long as we’re telling them that they’re not cleaned by our beliefs we’re owning that we’re like yeah yeah you’re right people will probably stop coming over that no matter how nice we say it to them they’re probably going to stop coming because what’s the [ _ ] point of coming if you’re not part of it i mean there is an identification that like we have a fellowship that is a certain a certain way like and and i know what you’re saying we should evolve but the the evolutions of what at least is my opinion whatever the evolutions of 12-step recovery fellowships are is something like recovery cafe or these more centralized all-inclusive recovery modalities maybe something like recovery dharma like those are the the next evolution i don’t think we should make what’s there change i don’t think any of you should go in and i mean no one went in and like forced aa to be like well now you have to take these drug addicts you have to take people that are have drug problems and and you need to change your language you need to change your beliefs and change everything that you’re saying because this is a new problem and everybody’s suffering from it and now you need to change to fit this well and they would be wrong and they will change and adjust as its members change and adjust right and so i’m saying to you if you believe that connection is part of the defeating addiction and you believe that fentanyl is [ _ ] killing people every day why don’t you think hey [ _ ] it i know if i tell you you’re not clean no matter how nicely i do it i’m pushing you away why wouldn’t i just want to not say that i can hold that belief but why wouldn’t i just let you believe whatever you believe and welcome you in and let you celebrate and and want you to be here and alive instead of dead in a [ _ ] house so if i was having an honest conversation with someone about this like a one-on-one conversation i wouldn’t care whether they say they’re clean or not but i would definitely tell them they will run into resistance if they go to meetings and tell people they’re clean and then say that they’re on a maintenance program they will 100 percent get some [ _ ] flack from some people in meetings they’re in your home group and the conversation comes up at a group conscience can they celebrate you raise your hand for yea or nay uh depend on the individual but really yeah why because again i have known people and i know how methadone has been used and so there are ways of using it correctly and there are ways of using it not i know that people on the street use suboxone it’s it’s not so it is it’s not like there’s no effects to it people do abuse suboxone they use it to get high that is a thing that happens so again if i were to talk to them and they say hey my doctors got me on this but whatever i’m [ _ ] cutting them in half and i’m only doing half of what i’m prescribed and i’m just you know or even i’m only doing what’s that how come we can’t take more than the doctor prescribes but we’re allowed to [ _ ] with his prescription and take less than all of a sudden we’re safe then we’re not being our own doctors like that sounds like it should be wrong too well i’m just saying like it would be an individual conversation i’m not a person that would just generally make a thing be like up you’re on mats you’re [ _ ] using and you got nothing to do with it in fact i would say and and i think i did this and i believe you said you did this that when the doctor prescribed pain medication after our surgeries or for whatever we had and we decided to take one every eight hours instead of one every four like it was prescribed we did not take those medications as prescribed and technically we that means we were not following doctor’s orders and we used if you want to get real technical we did not take those medications as prescribed well i think there’s a general understanding from most doctors that or less because they always say as needed [ _ ] it i’m not clean or as needed like it says take every four hours or as needed for pain like there’s a they put a qualification and a general understanding that if you don’t need it every four hours you’re not supposed to just take it although jason told us different i mean according to the nurse from voices yeah not me yeah not this jason another an actual nurse told us that we should take pain medication as prescribed isn’t that what he kind of said i think so yeah anyway yeah we talk too much what do you got

okay so what about this line in our literature then tell me tell me get around this one i’d love to hear in our readings in the beginning at every meeting we say all we want to know is what you want to do about your problem and how we can help that’s it so if you want to take suboxone to solve your problem and we can help you by letting you celebrate why aren’t we doing that yeah but those are general terms in a broader context if i just go picking out random general terms i can find literature that’ll suit anything that i want it to suit you know what i mean like you can’t you got to take things in the context of what they’re written and the understanding of what the program is in general and the general context of narcotics anonymous is it is a 12-step fellowship to treat drug addiction and so if i pick individual phrases out of that i can make it see anything that i want but i’ve always i’ve always found it fascinating that we really don’t want to know what people want to do about their problem and how we can help what we want to do is know we want people to know what we want them to do about their problem and how we can help we’re telling them how we can help and telling them what we want them to do about their problem we don’t but it says right in the reading all we want to know is what you want to do about your problem and how we can help but that’s not what we mean at least that’s not what i would say any n a member i would go out and poll right now would say no this is how the program works we want to tell you what you want to do about your problem which is be completely abstinent and the way we decide it was okay it’s not what the literature says says we want to know what you want to do about your problem and how can we help you with that yeah but we can’t help you with your mat problem like that’s not you can say that’s your problem that doesn’t say we can help you with any problem that you ever have it says what is your problem and how can we help and you might have some problems that we say we can’t help you with that i’m sorry well but it says what you want to do about your problem and that is not how narcotics anonymous in my understanding works we do not really give a [ _ ] what people want to do about their problem we tell them to get a sponsor and take suggestions and do what the [ _ ] everybody else wants them to do about their problem and i don’t think that works yeah but you can take that and do that general thing and be like well someone’s moving and they say they need some help moving then we say okay we can help you move or we can’t help you i mean yeah life is service yeah that’s one of our goals if you take like say you gotta put it in the context of what it is like there’s a circle or a bubble of what i think n a is and that’s might have been where we different differentiate is it i don’t i think it can help with any types of addiction and i’ve actually known people that have come in that don’t have a drug problem and have used the program for those things but i don’t think that’s what n a does well i think that’s a side benefit of 12 steps like that it can help in any areas of your life i feel like the literature that talks about the drug addiction just being a symptom to me clearly states this addiction problem isn’t about the drugs the drugs were a terrible manifestation they were a piece of it that brought us a lot of us to our bottoms but i’ve heard of people who had bottoms using drugs and then got clean and then ended up back it’s your [ _ ] story actually you’re one of those people that i’ve heard your bottom at the end when you got clean wasn’t really the worst place in your drug use no right so you came in to deal with the addiction the way you still felt even when the super drug problems weren’t relevant so it wasn’t really about coming in to deal with i’m shooting [ _ ] heroin but my identification that was that my life had been controlled by drugs like i had made all decisions centered around getting and using and finding ways it means to get more and that that was my life coping skills and then i needed other coping skills to come in and deal with life but i don’t so right yes so the guy on suboxone isn’t here to worry about the [ _ ] heroin problem anymore he’s got that under control with a medically assisted doctor helping him right prescribing a medication now he needs coping skills to deal with life which is what n a gives you i would argue depending on how you’re using that medication and what you’re doing this is me personally this is not n a me personally would be like depending on how you’re using that medication and what you’re doing is gonna help me decide whether i feel like i can help you with that or not whether that i feel like that’s where i feel like it’s none of our [ _ ] business it’s not our business to say let me evaluate if he’s using this medication correctly here like if the doctor prescribed it and that’s what he’s doing that’s not for me to decide oh he looks a little pinned in his eyes today i’m not so sure i don’t even want that job right right like that’s like who the [ _ ] that’s why there’s a stance that if you’re on a medicaid assisted program we don’t generally which is crazy because that’s you just said i came to be in recovery to get coping skills with life it wasn’t really about the drug use but na doesn’t say we help every single addict everywhere with any problem that they have they say this is a program this is what we have to offer this is what we do and how we do it and it’s free and anyone can come and anyone can do it and there’s no requirements but you still have some conditional things there there are still some conditions that say this is what we do and this is how we do it it doesn’t say every drug addict everywhere gets to come here and get clean and celebrate clean time and have all what we have yes and at the bottom line those conditions are completely [ _ ] made up because nicotine and caffeine are drugs and we still do them and we’re fine with it sure but it’s a consensus of the people that are here that believe that yes yes and that’s why we need the people to start here in this episode and realizing that this is all [ _ ] made up and we can let people on suboxone try to get these life coping skills that might help them one day get off the box and if that’s what our belief is the right way right let them hang out be a part of get the life coping skills that i would call recovery right because that’s the old distinction like well i had clean time but i didn’t relapse because i never actually evolve or expand or find a program that works for them i mean we don’t say that we’re the program for everybody i mean i’ve told people so one of the things i say a lot is this is not a program for people that you know need it it’s for people that want it if you want what we have this is what we do you know what i mean but it doesn’t say anybody that wants recovery comes here and gets it i mean it’s just i don’t know that might sound should go to detox jenny no no no but you know now we do we have gotten some people in recovery dharma who were on mats that did feel rejected by n a and um oh i’m sure i don’t doubt so recovery because it’s like more open you know we don’t really celebrate i mean we said you know if you tell me you’re two years clean i’m like great you know and but we don’t you know we don’t judge and jerium are you on suboxone you put them under the white light yeah are you really clean yeah so uh where when you detoxed when you got sober yep yeah i didn’t detox we’re good oh yeah you didn’t detox no i just went to outpatient rehab that’s detox oh all right i mean you had to stop very well detox is taking the intoxicants out right or letting them get out or whatever yeah i don’t know i think there’s a difference between detox and rehab but there is that’s not the issue yeah i mean the detox and i’m just saying like getting the things out of your body like okay the toxins are no longer in your body so that period of time so you went to outpatient rehab where did they suggest that you go for support um 12 steps a a or n a whichever i preferred right right and this is what i one of the things that i try to use in this argument with billy when we talk about it is that n a and a a are the [ _ ] hub of recovery they’re still where everybody gets sent you don’t i don’t think you’re going to treatment and they’re like well hmm you’re thinking about using suboxone so why don’t you maybe you should attend smart recovery instead of n a like i don’t think that’s going on i think he’s blaming the fellowship for what doctors are people that don’t even come to the fellowship in hell yes i’m blaming the fellowship which isn’t fair that’s that’s because we’re the people who have set at these these uh you know tells them specifically that they’re not [ _ ] clean no and we’re supposed to give this to medicaid well people that prescribe this [ _ ] so if they turn around and tell somebody to [ _ ] go to n a that’s not n a’s fault we have literature that specifically addresses that this literature he’s talking about is the pamphlet he was just reading which came out a year ago i think but we’ve had a pamphlet called now four professionals that’s been out for over 20 years that i sent him over the week because we kind of had this argument a couple weeks in 29 it’s been out for a long time too to specifically address that before this ip but the the literature that was for professionals the wording in it never defined narcotics anonymous abstinence right it’s just like bulletin 29 came out because but that’s not for medication so doctors weren’t going to read that but this is what i’m telling like doctors aren’t going to read na’s bulletin 29 they’re going to read the the pamphlet that we give out at medical fairs that we’ve been sitting at for years that says four professionals they’re like oh i’m a professional i’ll read this and it never makes the [ _ ] distinction of what na’s version of clean is versus what a doctor thinks clean is because a doctor who treats you with suboxone thinks you’re clean because he’s prescribing medicine and you’re taking it as prescribed and to him in his mind in the medical field that’s clean and so without that distinction n a has sat at these medical fairs for years decades they’re the only place people have seen there’s no recovery dharma table at the [ _ ] medical fair there’s no smart recovery right it’s true well you know why people are there because it works exactly like it was designed one of the reasons that it’s so great is that and it’s become a hub of recovery is because it’s designed a specific way to help it’s out of recovery because it’s the name that got out there just like kleenex happens to be the name that got out there for tissues right it was successful it wanted to grow and it was successful and i think it holds a share of the blame of why everyone’s sent there because they weren’t agreeing i can’t say that that’s doesn’t and i have like a tradition too that like for no outside influence i forget the wording it’s on a yes so um is it hanging out at doctors fairs kind of outside influence and well and they wanted to grow and get money and so they’ve like they can put up billboards even though they’re not supposed to advertise and it’s about attraction over promotion right so we’ve we’ve fiddled these lines and this is the part i’m talking about where i think n a has a role in it and that’s a toll on debate because we could go down that rabbit hole i don’t necessarily agree that putting up a billboard on 95 that says drug problem need to talk and puts an 800 number i don’t think that that’s advertising i don’t think that that’s soliciting people but if you don’t let people know that you exist and you don’t let people know that there’s a [ _ ] program that helps with drug addiction that’s free how do you expect them to know you know what i mean like you gotta get like how is aa get its name out there they don’t we don’t have to right right no um but i mean like i think having this outside affiliation with medical people and then the complication of what’s clean is exactly the you know the confrontation they were trying to avoid maybe when they said all right don’t don’t but goes to those medical affairs too do they okay and they have eyeballs and pamphlets written specifically to address those issues i haven’t heard the discussion of is it uh because there’s that that drug that um when you get sick if you drink alcohol like is it no i know what you’re talking about so people sometimes get prescribed that when they’re trying to get sober and i mean are they sober and they’re still getting that drug but yeah i think that’s what i mean maybe that’s just the what they’re you know when they say don’t get affiliated with outside things like doctors this is what they’re you know because the definition of clean is being so and part of the problem comes from i think this is tends to be more the issue that jason’s talking about than really the the if you want to call it advertising advertising is that most of treatment centers and stuff are people from addiction and people that have had these problems that go to 12 step fellowship so then they go to their treatment center or their job and they say hey you need to do this because this is what works and it’s people in there misapplication of the traditions because they are you know getting skewed but i don’t know you can’t it’s it’s hard to say well that’s the fellowship’s fault because they didn’t address every individual’s violations of these traditions you know it’s less to me about whether it’s the fellowship’s fault and do we want to be [ __ ] helpful or do we want to continue to live in this land where we think we can just hold these ego based principles about clean time but when it’s hurting society right but you have an opinion that if we do something different if we change and morph into something else that that will be better and there’s people that would argue that if we change and morph into something else we won’t be able to do what we’re doing now and there’s not a way to i see billy’s point because there is something else there is other things out there right you don’t like it but

you know what i mean like any spurt because aa people were like look we’re not about that we’ll help you start a new thing over here now they are we’re not about that and and they’re evolving and changing and i’m not hoping they were

look how wrong they were now they are wrong sure they are now they are about that obviously they’ve changed because they realized over time oh [ _ ] we were wrong now that it makes them wrong i mean they might not have been able to help the millions of people that they helped if they had been something different back then i mean you can’t say just because they’ve changed an idea means they were wrong i don’t know i just look i’ve held the standpoint you’ve held right i’ve said why don’t they just start suboxone anonymous meetings i have joked that they won’t because people in suboxone don’t have that kind of motivation and initiative right i’ve been crude about it like i get it i just at this point in my life think what’s more helpful to society and that’s where i want to be and i feel like this stance is only doing harm i don’t see the positive in it i don’t see how letting people on suboxone celebrate is going to change somebody’s mind coming in of whether they want to be some version of completely abstinent or some other version of completely abstinent like it’s still just because somebody’s a boxing celebrates doesn’t mean i gotta go get on suboxone like i still get to be clean in my version of it and people coming in will still get to choose that and i don’t see the harm we’re not saying oh well everybody’s got to be on suboxone now maybe i’m stuck on stigma but i think it does i think it changes our message if we say that you can use drugs to treat addiction and or to treat your drug symptoms and you can come here like i think it changes our message but we say you can work with doctors you can work with doctors and come here right but i mean if you say that you’re clean i don’t know and again we come back to this clean which i think is ill-defined and [ _ ] skewed and subjective anyway if we get to sit around and debate whether the person in our meeting well they had 20 years but now they were in a car accident in their own pain medicine do we think they’re abusing it or not oh well he does still use nicotine and caffeine do we think like if we can have that [ _ ] subjective debate then to me the whole definition of clean is a [ _ ] opinion anyway and there’s no reason that we’re holding it so strongly that we’re killing people um i don’t know and i think we kill people if we tell them that did it you know i think we kill people the other way so well the research says i just the reason if you change what n a is there’s a [ _ ] ton of people that are gonna be like nah then people are all on [ _ ] drugs they’re not really they’re not really doing anything any different they just substituted one for another and now they’re okay but the whole push for harm reduction is the fact that the numbers greatly show that suboxone is saving lives harm reduction methods are saving lives 100 i support mats and all that stuff narcotics anonymous should change i don’t think i don’t think there’s two are synonymous but i don’t think it is changing i think we [ _ ] make it up and debate it and and it’s opinion now i don’t think there’s no it’s not a oh this is the hard facts about being clean and that was the point of this episode as well there’s no facts about anything in recovery i mean to be honest like someone’s amount of time has nothing to do with how many steps they worked or if they even work steps or if they even do any of that so recovery in in general is very very subjective it’s a very so if our open-ended concept if our whole idea of clean is subjective in the first place if it’s all an opinion to begin with right why are we so willing to hold so staunchly to our right opinion that we’re saying when the numbers in science say less people die if we don’t less people die if we accept suboxone less people die if we accept that these methods are keeping people alive but we’re going to let our subjective opinions accept suboxone i mean again you’re making these connections that i don’t make like a doesn’t say that it’s wrong and it doesn’t say they shouldn’t do it and a doesn’t say it’s not a good thing but we’ve walked through this step by step and said that these people will be pushed out when we tell them they’re not clean no matter how nice we are and i’ve said there’s been people at least two examples maybe not as many but there’s been examples of people that have found recovery here and that haven’t felt pushed out and that have been able to do it yeah but how many people have died while those two found clean right how many people would die if we changed what n.a meant and why would they yeah because if i came so when i got clean in 2000. if i came and there was a bunch of people on methadone i wouldn’t there would be no legitimacy to what was happening in narcotics anonymous it would to me it would be synonymous is if you went to an aaa meeting and people said i don’t drink heavy anymore i don’t go to the bar but i drink wine every night with dinner but i’m still sober like that would that’s to me would be the same analogy and i would not have [ _ ] stayed and been like that is not their [ _ ] i mean that just would have been my opinion right or wrong it doesn’t matter that’s the preception and i think if you ask most people that would be how they would feel i mean so when the guy shared in the meeting recently and we’re gonna we’re gonna wrap this up sorry jenny you know i love listening chat the guy in the meeting shared about how he’s not really thinking antidepressants are he didn’t say they weren’t clean but he had a strong opinion about people who use them and what that meant about whether they were recovering or not and somebody in the meeting after him me shared an opposite of you right and i think that’s i think that’s responsible in any meeting when there’s a strong opinion one way or another and somebody else holds another opinion like i think both of those things are valid and there there might be the guy who needs to hear antidepressants uh uh are not clean and that’s he’s gonna pick the first guy to be his sponsor and then there might be the guy who’s like [ _ ] i just took antidepressants i’m definitely picking the second guy to be my sponsor right there’s an attraction to both of those opinions and that’s what i’m saying if we let people on suboxone stay clean people can still have their opinions and both of those can be shared in the meeting i don’t think you’re going to walk into a.a and all 30 members are going to be like yeah we all had wine at dinner last night somebody’s going to be like oh man you know i don’t do the whiskey no more i have one glass of wine at dinner my doctor said it was good for my heart and then someone else gonna share yeah i can’t do that for me that would like cause me to drink whiskey afterwards so i don’t drink wine at all like i think both of those opinions could exist and it doesn’t ruin the legitimacy like you’re talking about of our program just like both of those opinions exist about antidepressants or about xanax or about the guy who had 25 years but gotten a motorcycle accident now takes percocets like both of those opinions are already there anyway so i don’t think it ruins and people die because of that yeah i just the opinions of the individual members don’t make up the fellowship i guess like the you know people are going to have opinions either way of whether they think you’re clean or not or whether they think you should celebrate or not but i think the fellowship in general has a consensus about what those things mean and as of now that’s in our literature i i mean the majority opinion like if you want to call it majority opinion then it’s majority opinion maybe i mean i don’t know that’s why they get the cult reputation difficult oh yeah but you know these things they they do have a general understanding amongst people that go to that fellowship like there are general understandings i mean again when someone says they’re sober if you walk into a meeting and say that you’re sober in an aaa meeting that has a pretty general honors like people pretty much understand what that means and that’s important and when people come to an n a meeting and say that they’re clean that has a general understanding within that context i mean you can go on social media and say whatever you want i mean i hear people say they’re clean but they still smoke weed and all kinds of [ _ ] and i don’t really care i’m great you’re clean that’s great i don’t doesn’t affect me at all i don’t know what clean means anymore but if you want to you know come to my home group and celebrate and you’re on some sort of drugs in any form we would probably have to have a talk about it and figure it out i’m gonna start bringing up a group conscience and vote on whether people can celebrate if they’ve smoked or had caffeine or taken any prescribed medicine or i’m gonna start [ _ ] rocking the boat uh i feel like to come on rocket you’ll be the one that votes yes and everybody else will yeah you know or no and everybody else will vote yes and they’ll think you’re crazy but uh so because there’s a generalized understanding of what those things mean i think i think to talk further is to to talk a little in circles and rehash the same stuff i think we’ve we’ve done a justice um you know the idea of what is clean and so i invite everybody out there to really think about that right like how opinionated is this clean idea why do we give it so much weight that it seems to shame members who who do something else or who we decide aren’t clean by our decided version of that because i think we all have a slightly different even though there might be a somewhat generalized agreement i think we all have a slightly different idea of what clean is uh when it really comes down to the specifics and and outside of n a i’ve heard actually some different ideas about this i was looking at some stuff online and in recovery forums and stuff and there was a general thing a lot of people feel that like being clean is i i forget how they say it exactly but it’s like living the best version of yourself as a version of being clean which i thought that was pretty cool and like opening and inviting and then there’s another discussion that goes on about at least in the broader recovery community of whether we should even be using that type of language because it assimilates like clean as being good and using as being like dirty or bad and and those are really negative concepts that don’t help the general recovery you know movement you’re not clean you’re dirty there’s lots of forum discussions on all that stuff too yeah any final thoughts jenny staying clean living dirty no but i mean this is fascinating because you know i you know i listen to your podcast so now i’m just like listening live you know thanks for letting me interject sometimes when i listen at home i talk to you guys you’re not there this time i gotta interject live i should say that there’s a little guilt i was like we want your opinion and then we argued most of it all right so uh that’s all for this week think about what clean really means to you and uh debate it with all your fellow friends and people on twitter so i can watch people’s mind stay safe did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoveryswordup.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on facebook twitter instagram reddit youtube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us