Dear Rabbi Twerski,
One of the members of our forum who goes by the name “Jack” is forty-nine years old and has been struggling for thirty-eight years. Jack was on our phone conference once in the beginning of Elul, when the therapist on the line mentioned a recent study that found that it takes ninety days for a person to change the neuron paths in the brain and thereby change an ingrained thought pattern. The therapist claimed that the study found that if a person was able to refrain for ninety days from a cer- tain type of behavior he had become accustomed to, it would become much easier afterwards to continue abstinence. At that moment, on the phone line, Jack decided to start his journey and aim for ninety days. He is already past sixty days clean with the help of all the wonderful people who offer support on the forum and with the help of the Live Hotline, and by keeping in daily touch with me as well.
Yesterday Jack wrote me the following:
I’m depressed — I feel like I lost my best friend! The inap- propriate material made me happy. There’s nothing that can replace that for me. I am empty inside now. I spoke to Elya last night, and he listened to me. There’s nothing that makes me as happy as those images on the screen, and now that I gave that up, I don’t know where to turn for happiness. I’m having a rough time with it.
I know that the Rav has much experience in this area, and if the Rav has a few minutes to give him some pointers, it could prove invaluable to saving him now and also help provide direc- tion to us as well. Thank you very much!
Rabbi Twerski Responds
The following is from a eulogy written by a person recovering from cocaine. Jack’s addiction is exactly like this man’s cocaine. He thought his high was happiness.
I suppose that in parting I should say how much I love you, but all I can say is, “I hate you.” You deceived me. You promised to make the world pleasant for me, and I believed you. You did not tell me that your help would be brief and that afterwards, I would feel worse than ever. You played games with me and teased me. You never did make me as comfortable as you did at first.
My wife and children resented my love affair with you. They said they would leave me unless I gave you up. You told me not to worry, that you would give me more than my family ever could. Again, you deceived me.
You took everything away from me: the love of my family, my home, my job, my friends, my dignity.
I would have still pursued you, but I had no energy left. I was crushed, broken in body, mind, and spirit. Yet even at this moment when I bury you, you threaten to come out of the grave and haunt me. You are a liar. You never wanted to make me happy.
I shall struggle along, trying to regain my strength, whatever is left that you did not take. I hate you, cocaine. I once loved you more than anything in the world, but now, I hate you.
Just as this man thought that cocaine could give him hap-piness, you thought that inappropriate material could give you happiness. In both cases, what you get is a fleeting high, but certainly not happiness.
Happiness is attained when a person fulfills that for which he was created. No one was created for the purpose of using drugs or viewing inappropriate material.
Unfortunately, as long as one is getting this “high,” one does not search for where his happiness can really be found.
Whatever gives one a fleeting high is deceptive. Of course, one feels down when giving up cocaine, just as you feel by giving up inappropriate material.
Cocaine is an enemy, not a friend. Inappropriate material is an enemy, not a friend. Don’t allow yourself to be deluded by these.
I’m not out to make a sale, but you might want to look at my book Happiness and the Human Spirit. You can borrow it from the library.