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Loss of control

BY WILLIAM MOYERS Modified: January 21, 2013 at 9:18 am •  Published: January 21, 2013

Afterward, I sat in my car in the parking lot, trying to figure out what had just happened. I don't think most people find that getting nitrous oxide is akin to running into a burning bush on a faraway mountainside as Moses did. Then again, they aren't bummed out when the time comes to turn off the gas and go home.

That's why addicts are so different. We use drugs exactly to find a release from whatever bonds us to reality. When we're down, we get high to pick us up off the floor the same way we use substances to push the apex a bit further when the moment is good but not good enough.

For either reason or both, we only get beyond where we are to where we thirst to go by losing control of what our minds and our bodies tell us is the truth. Yep. Substances are that potent.

But my tears explain what happens when we've been clean and sober for a while. We take a stout liking to the recovery zone we're in, that finely balanced place where we do have some control over how we feel and act. Yes, we're powerless over alcohol and other drugs.

And life always throws stuff our way that we cannot control. But we have a heck of a lot of influence (I'll go so far as to call it control) over how we deal with all of that stuff — as long as we stay connected, work a program of recovery and always greet the day the same way we close it, with humility and gratitude that we are very fortunate people.

Even in the dentist's chair, it is scary to go back to the way I used to be. The short hiatus reminded me I'm always an addict. That's OK, as long as I am an addict in recovery.

William Moyers is the vice president of public affairs and community relations for the Hazelden Foundation and the author of "Broken," his best-selling memoirs. His new book, "Now What? An Insider's Guide to Addiction and Recovery," has just been published. Please send your questions to William Moyers at To find out more about William Moyers and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



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