530. The Anatomy of Addiction: Denial, Codependency, Surrender & the Power of Prayer (AMA w/ Luke)

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

In today's heartfelt AMA episode, we delve into the complexities of addiction and recovery, the roles of denial and codependency, the importance of support systems and confronting enabling behaviors, and the power of prayer and faith in overcoming addiction.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Today's AMA episode is close to my heart as we dive deep into addiction and addiction recovery – a journey, as you well know, that I'm intimately familiar with. We unpack the complexities of addiction, which I define as a condition where we persist in harmful behaviors despite being fully aware of the negative impacts on our lives and those we love. It's not just about seeking pleasure or avoiding pain; it's about being trapped in a cycle that we feel powerless to break.

In this episode with my producer Bailey, I address questions from the community to explore the anatomy of addiction, starting with the critical role of denial and codependency. We discuss the nuances within the different levels and types of addiction, the role of support systems, and how to confront enabling behaviors within our relationships. We also discuss how addiction affects family dynamics and why recovery groups can be incredibly effective. 

I talk about the progression of addiction, even in periods of abstinence, and share what keeps me away from any temptation to relapse. Lastly, I open up about my personal recovery journey, sharing insights from the 12-step program that have been crucial in my healing – offering my heartfelt advice to those seeking solutions. 

It's a tough journey, but there's a path to surrender in the transformative power of prayer and faith in the recovery process. For me, staying free of addiction is about being of service – it's the core of my daily life. If you're struggling with addiction or know someone who is, remember there is a tangible, achievable solution within you. This episode is a great place to start.

(00:02:13) Previewing New Merch Release BTS Content

(00:07:46) Defining Addiction & Exploring Different Types

  • Drunk animals (YouTube)
  • Luke’s definition of addiction
  • Different levels and types of addiction
  • The disconnect that phone and technology addiction creates
  • Creating awareness around ways in which we partake in escapism 

(00:23:56) The Role of Support Systems in Addiction Recovery

  • How we can utilize our support systems 
  • How shame from addiction can push us away from our support systems 
  • Turning the tide with self-honesty and humility
  • The role of the ego in addiction and sobriety 
  • The main reason why recovery groups are so effective 

(00:39:58) The Principle of Surrender: What Leads to Sobriety?

  • Bailey’s perspective with a loved one addicted to gambling 
  • Luke’s thoughts on the show Intervention (IMDb)
  • Exploring the principle of surrender
  • Addiction framed in the model of mental illness 
  • The progression of the addiction even in periods of abstinence

(01:02:18) Confronting Enabling: How To Be an Advocate for Addicts

  • How destructive addiction is to loved ones 
  • Confronting enabling in addiction
  • A story about tough love with his brother Cody’s addiction journey
  • Luke’s theory on being an addict in past lives
  • How understanding time as nonlinear has impacted his sobriety

(01:23:21) The Solution to Addiction & Power of Prayer

  • God’s role in Luke’s recovery and the power of prayer
  • Luke’s perspective on hitting rock bottom 
  • How codependency prevents healing
  • The principle of decision making in the 12 steps of recovery
  • Ideating on the solution to addiction

Luke 00:01

All right, Life Stylist's friends and family. This is Episode 530 with my co-host, Bailey Richardson, and we're going to be doing an Ask Me Anything today based on questions we get from people over the years. And we're going to be talking today about one of my favorite topics, and that is addiction and addiction recovery, as someone who has a lot of experience with both. So I have no idea what Bailey's going to ask me today, but I trust that it will elicit some valuable information for anyone that may be suffering from that particular affliction, or someone who has a loved one that might be in the bondage of addiction. So let's go ahead and kick it off, Bailey.

Bailey 00:47

All right. Well, do you want to tell the listeners about the bonus episode that we're going to record too? 

Luke 00:55

Yes, that's a great idea. So some of you might have heard already that after much deliberation and much hard work, trying to figure out how to get this done, we just released-- what was that? A couple of months ago now we've been at it? 

Bailey 01:11

Yeah, something like that. 

Luke 01:12

We just released our first line of merchandise, otherwise known as merch. So we're going to be doing a short mini episode about that and sharing some of our excitement about how some of those ideas came to be. But essentially, it goes like this. From time to time, I will be meditating or just taking some creative time, and I'll come up with what I think is either a funny or meaningful meme or slogan, and I jot those down. And some of them are just so fun, to me, at least. They deserve more than just shooting out a tweet or post on Instagram. 

Luke 01:54

So we created a whole line of hoodies, men's and women's T shirts, and so on, even stuff for kids, some drinking vessels, some drinkware, some hats, and they're very indicative in terms of their messaging of the things that we talk about here on the show. So we've been getting some questions about, where did this one come from, and that one, and so on. And so we're going to go ahead and do a mini episode, probably record it right after this, and share with you guys where some of those ideas came from and just turn you on to the world that you will find over at lukestoreymerch.com. 

Luke 02:33

And you can also access that now on our Instagram page, @lukestorey. I'd love it if you give us follow over there. And if you go to my profile on Instagram and just click shop, you'll find the Instagram shop there. So it's been really fun, seeing some people finally, as it started to ramp up a bit, posting them wearing their shirts and throwing them on their kids, and stuff like that. It's fun as a creative outlet, I think, because of my background, spending 17 years in Hollywood in the fashion industry, which is a whole other story, and something I don't talk about a lot, because it's not really relevant to the work we do here. 

Luke 03:08

But I've always loved making a statement with the clothes that I wear. And up until now, I haven't really found a way to integrate my past experience in the fashion world with the world of The Life Stylist and all the things that we cover here. So this was a meeting of those two worlds, so that I could let my freak flag fly, as we say on a lukestoreymerch.com site, and let other people in the world know what you're all about. I think it's oftentimes a great conversation starter when you have a t-shirt that says something that only people in the know would know. 

Luke 03:45

And a lot of them are like that. And some of them are a bit on the subversive side. They're freedom-oriented, and some of them have to do with plant medicines, and some of them chemtrails, and all kinds of different stuff. And some of them are just straight up spiritual messages and positive messages at that. So I think we have got I don't know how many designs on there now, but we're adding more all the time. And I'm just excited to share with people, so thanks for the reminder of that. And we'll be doing a fun little screen share mini episode where we go through that stuff and give people the stories behind the messages. 

Bailey 04:24

That'll be fun. You posted one story, and I think you put-- I don't know if you did it or someone else did it. They put Dr. Fauci's face on [Inaudible]. Someone in the [Inaudible].

Luke 04:37

Someone in our Telegram group. By the way, if you guys want the uncensored social media, it's a bit of a doom scroll over on the Telegram channel, I'll admit, because that's where I dump all of the news and memes and things like that that would get me kicked off the communist censored platforms, like the aforementioned one with the initial IG. So if you go to lukestoery.com/telegram, you can follow our channel there. And that's where all the adults only content lives. 

Luke 05:09

But yeah, had the Fauci, and there was a Bill Gates one and a couple of other ones. One of the members of our Telegram group, I guess, made those with AI and just took the t-shirts and then put them on these evil characters. I even hesitated to post those because I'm like, I don't even want to give those guys energy. But they were pretty funny. Yeah, I think one of them was the "I survived the plandemic, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt." That was a good one. That was probably about running out its timeline by now because we all want to forget about that.

Luke 05:44

But I haven't forgotten what a travesty and shit show that period of time was, and I think part of my rationale in keeping some of that public awareness is I would really prefer if we don't have to go through that or anything like it again. But yeah, I forget the person's name. So forgive me if that person is listening. I didn't give you a shout out. It's tough to keep track of all the Telegram posts. But yeah he-- I think it was a he-- fired off three or four of those, and I was like, these are cool. And so he kept them coming in. And those are the ones you saw.

Bailey 05:45

I love it. 

Luke 05:46

Yeah, it was pretty funny.

Bailey 05:48

Okay, well, let's get into it. So I think one of my favorite things that you talk about with addiction that I think a lot of people miss the mark on is it's not just about substance abuse. And it's not even just about, sex and love addiction, or gambling are the ones that we have the hotline numbers for. So I would love to hear a little bit about how you define addiction?

Luke 06:55

That's a great question. And I would argue that because of the way human beings are wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure, all of us, probably all animals to some degree, or at least primates, for sure-- you've seen the videos, I'm sure, some people have of the drunk monkeys that know how to ferment coconuts, then they go get drunk. We got to find that for the show notes. I think you would just do a search of "drunk monkeys." And they're there somewhere, I'm sure. 

Bailey 07:36

That's incredible.

Luke 07:38

Well, there's a couple pieces. There's one just inherent to human beings, which is, I said, the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure. But then there's another part of it, and that is that humans, and I guess monkeys too, for that matter, based on that video recommendation, enjoy from time to time altered states of consciousness. And so there's two pieces. 

Luke 08:03

One is the more classical addiction piece and how I would define addiction-- I could probably do a three-hour show and give you 1,000 examples. But to put it simply, I think addiction is when we're participating in a behavior that has proven to have negative consequences and be deleterious to our life and our wellbeing that we continue to do despite those consequences, a. And b, when we become aware of those consequences, we within ourselves lack the power needed to stop. 

Luke 08:50

And so you have a pre denial stage where the people around someone who's addicted can tell whether it's their phone or overeating, as you said, relationships, sex, substances, workaholism, means by which we try to escape the discomfort of the pain we're feeling or we're seeking something outside of ourselves for more of a full and rich experience of life, like pleasure seeking.

Luke 09:21

If everyone in an inner circle of a person thinks that person is addicted to whatever and that person doesn't think so, there's a pretty good chance that the majority of those people are correct and that the person who is addicted is not. And that's the denial phase, where that person is doing something continually that's harmful to their life and their overall wellbeing and they won't admit that it's causing them problems and are in that denial cycle. And then the next phase of it is when even the person who's so afflicted has some degree of awareness that that's the case but still lacks the ability to stop or at least to stay stopped. 

Luke 10:11

So in my history of addiction, I was one of those that was very aware that I was an addict, that I was an alcoholic for a long, long time, and I think, for the first few years, I just didn't want to stop because I was still-- I wouldn't say I was able to function. That's a stretch. But I was able to suppress the symptoms and the side effects of addiction enough to have some semblance of a life. 

Luke 10:40

And there were times where it was still fun. I'm not going to lie. When I moved to Hollywood, when I was 19, and had zero supervision or restrictions of any kind, I had a lot of fun, playing in rock and roll bands, and got my fake ID at 19. I was going to all the Hollywood clubs, and for a while there, it was very fun. And then, as we say in recovery, I didn't make this up, but it explains it pretty well. 

Luke 11:07

First, it was fun, then it was fun with problems, and then it was problems with problems. That's how it goes. Because it's progressive. That's the thing with true addiction. It's progressive, and the person who is addicted oftentimes doesn't see the progression, but the people around them do. So in short, I think addiction is, whether we're seeking pleasure or trying to evade pain, it's something we're doing that is causing harm to ourselves and those about us, the people that love us, and whether or not we're aware of that, we can't stop. 

Luke 11:48

And some addictions are more acute than others. Like I would say, if I'm being totally honest, I'm pretty addicted to my phone. But phone addiction, sugar, food addiction, sex addiction, things like that are much more insidious and harder to deal with because those things are a normal and natural part of life. So the interesting thing about my phone, for example, I find myself having an awareness when I'm just grabbing my phone for no reason and refreshing apps for no reason. Do I really need to check my Instagram messages 15 times a day or any of that? No, it's actually not necessary to do my business. 

Luke 12:34

But for me to stay connected to the world, it is necessary to use my phone. So I think addictions like that can border on unconscious, and then conscious habits. But when it gets into the classical definition of addiction, I would look at something like my phone and say, well, I'm sure it's not adding to my life to be attached at the hip to the phone, but is it causing me to lose relationships? Is it preventing me from earning a living? Is it affecting my health, my sleep? No. 

Luke 13:13

So there's, I guess, levels to addiction and how much damage they're actually causing to our lives. One thing that's been helpful to me, and sugar, I say I'm probably addicted to sugar because there are times when I am eating sugar, and there's a angel and a devil on each shoulder, and the angel is going, you don't need that. You don't have to eat a bite of that ice cream because you know, Luke, you're going to finish the whole pint, which I always do. And usually it's at night time, the worst time to probably eat sugar, spike your blood sugar and all that. 

Luke 13:53

So I have an awareness that I'm doing it, but usually, I lack the discipline to stop myself once I've made the decision to do it. But I'm not sitting around all day eating sugar like if I was addicted to cigarettes, or heroin, or alcohol, or many things I've been addicted to in the past. It was like a full-time job, and nothing was going to stand in my way. And there was no way I could ever titrate or have any sense of discipline. 

Luke 14:21

So with some of those things, like the phone, or ice cream, or those things that might veer into the lane of addiction, it's difficult to categorize them. And it can only be done so subjectively by applying self-honesty. So am I a little bit addicted to my phone? Yeah. But I'm also able at times to just turn my phone on airplane mode and leave in the other room and I don't touch it for maybe half a day, or when it gets dark out, that's my cue to stop using my phone. 

Luke 14:49

Are there times when I walk by the freezer and don't pull out the ice cream and eat it? All the time, many times a week. But there are also a couple of days where I'm like, don't do it. Don't do it. I'm like, I'm going to do it, and then I do. And I think there's degrees to our attachments or addictions. And that's another piece too. It's like you have a dividing line maybe between a habit or an attachment that wouldn't classically fall under an addiction. Because if you're given a good enough reason to let go of an attachment, you will. 

Luke 15:21

So I might have an attachment at times to my phone, but there's also times where maybe on a Sunday, I say to myself, you know what, no phone today, and I'm able to achieve that abstinence. So to answer the short question in a very long winded way, I don't know if there's one single definition of addiction, and I think it's different for each person. And what will determine addiction is the level of self-honesty and self-awareness one has about their behaviors. 

Luke 15:52

And the ones, again, that I think are the trickiest are ones that are part of life. In other words, there's no lifestyle for me today, wherein it's necessary to take a little bit of heroin every once in a while or part of health regimen includes having a shot of vodka once a week. It's easy-- well, not easy. And we can get to why it's not easy. It's easy for me at this point because of the grace that I've received and some of the work I've done over the years toward addiction. 

Luke 16:29

But complete abstinence is much easier with certain habits, or addictions, or substances because there's no need to ever participate it in your day-to-day life. And then there's other things that bleed through, where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to apply complete and total abstinence from those behaviors because they're just part of our life.

Bailey 16:54

When you talk about the phone and the sugar, something came to my mind about sacrifice, like, it's a lot harder to see how much we're sacrificing, I think, when it comes to those kinds of addictions or attachments, whatever you want to call them. There are times when I'm around people, maybe in a social setting, and you can you see those people who are really attached to their phones. 

Bailey 17:24

There are split second interactions that you have with them, where there's an opportunity to connect, but instead of connecting, they turn away and they look to the phone instead. And it's like, each of those instances, you're sacrificing something. And I think it's tough. Like you said, you don't see the progression. It's tough to see those little times that add up to a pattern. And with the sugar too, sugar at night. It's like, you know that it's not good to eat sugar at night. But what's really going to happen pragmatically? Are you really going to feel that bad tomorrow, or are you going to feel your cells not working correctly? Probably not.

Luke 18:12

Yeah, that's true. I mean, there are degrees of consequences with different habits, addictions, patterns, etc. And I think most of us are willing to tolerate some of the consequences, a, if the consequences aren't that dire, and b, if they're easy to rationalize. So I might be in a social setting. I'm feeling a little bit of social anxiety. I'm not totally at ease with myself. Maybe I don't know the people there that well, etc. 

Luke 18:49

There's not a real observable consequence of going into the phone as a means to escape and avoid social interactions, or nervousness, or whatever the case may be. So that makes it all the more important to start to build awareness of the ways in which we're trying to escape. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to escape. There's nothing wrong with escaping through your phone. And to me, there's no moral issue with escaping with cocaine or whatever. 

Luke 19:20

I have no moral judgment against any sort of addiction, habit, pattern. What other people do is really, truly none of my business. I just don't care. I care about people, but I don't care to control other people's lives in that way. But some of the more normalized habits, and borderline addictions are much harder to catch because no one's really going to call you on it either, unless you've stated to your friend group, for example, hey, if you guys see me on my phone when we go to this event, please remind me. Tap me on the shoulder and just gently say, hey, you're doing it again. But most people won't do that. They'll just go, they're not aware.

Luke 20:03

Yeah. Or you don't want your covers pulled and you don't want your security blanket interrupted. So it's actually a good tool to use if you find yourself being habituated to something that doesn't serve you. It is a really great idea to let your friends or family, people that are nonjudgmental and that truly care about your highest good to let them know, hey, I'm working on this thing. Could you give me a little nudge if you see me unconsciously doing it? 

Bailey 20:03

That's hard.

Luke 20:33

Thing like sugar could be a great example. I might remind Alyson, if we go out, hey, if you see me starting to attack the glyphosate laden, glutinous cake, gently remind me that I told you I don't want to do that anymore. And then, of course, you have to be willing to accept that expression of love from the people from whom you ask for the help, right? 

Bailey 21:01

Mm-hmm. Well, let's talk about that a little bit. That was on my list. How can we not only build but also utilize our support systems when maybe we are at the beginning of addiction, or I guess, not necessarily the beginning of addiction, but maybe we can feel those attachments getting a little bit stronger than we'd like them to be, or maybe someone's recovering? They've already gone through addiction, and they're feeling to themselves, but they do have people around them that can help.

Luke 21:43

Well, I think in order to explore that, we have to draw a line in the sand of maybe some bad habits, the phone, eating cake, and so on, and a true addiction. So let's start with true addiction. This one, I think, in that way, is really tough because when somebody is starting to veer into substance abuse, most of the time, they're going to have some level of awareness as they start to slide down that slippery slope. 

Luke 22:24

There seeing, oh, I used to only drink on the weekends, and now I kind of have a hangover on Monday. So halfway during the day on Monday, I might have a couple beers, and so on. Or smoking weed. And that's not really supposed to be addictive, but wow, I'm smoking weed all day, every day, and I'm missing appointments and being late to work or just not present. Some of the harder street drugs, cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, and so on. 

Luke 22:50

When you start to get into abusing substances, especially those that have a lot of social stigma around them, in my case, for example, I knew when I was starting to get addicted to drugs like heroin and crack, and I didn't want my friends to know because there was so much shame attached to it, especially with crack. No one feels proud about being a crack addict. Heroin had a little mystique to it because there's some cool people historically that have been on heroin, Keith Richards, people like that. 

Luke 23:30

I don't know. There's something about that particular drug that-- it's totally false, by the way. It's bullshit. But in my experience, I didn't feel as shameful about that as I did using crack, for example. But regardless of the degree of shame, I wasn't going to tell anyone that cared about me that I was starting to enter the danger zone with those substances, a, because it was embarrassing and shameful, b, because I didn't want to be interrupted. 

Luke 24:04

If I felt like going on a bender, the last thing I wanted is my do-gooder friends tell me, Luke, you better not do that. Because once an addict gets it in their head, you're not going to tell anyone that's going to interrupt your flow. Because that flow, it's a bad word for it because it sounds kind of positive, but you're numbing your escapism. There's a reason why an addict is using that class of drugs. 

Luke 24:35

And in the beginning, it might be because it's fun, and expansive, and wild, and it's something new and it can be a really pronounced change of consciousness, so to speak, but after some time, when it starts to get its hooks in you, it's really more about survival and about escaping the pain, or the trauma, the PTSD, whatever it is that's underneath that addiction. 

Luke 24:59

So if you're uncomfortable in your skin, as an addict and you know the one thing that will help you feel comfortable is to use, you're not going to tell anyone around you that could possibly interrupt your ability to create a sense of ease and comfort. That's the last thing you want to do. So in terms of support, when someone's truly addicted in the realm of substances, that's where self-honesty comes into play. 

Luke 25:37

And as I said, for me, there were years where I knew that I was way past the point of no return. And I could be honest with myself about that, but there was no goddamn way I was going to be honest with anyone else about it unless they were on board with me continuing to do it. Because then you get people to cosign your behavior. You could go ask your junkie friends, like, hey, do you guys think I have a problem? No, man. You're cool. You know what I mean?

Luke 26:07

We're all in the camp together. We're all in that codependency and all of that cosigning and justification and denial. But to let anyone else outside your circle of drug buddies, if you have them, which in the end, I didn't really even have drug buddies because I isolated myself to such a degree I was really just alone all the time. Because the people that cared about me found it too depressing and sad to watch me do that to myself, and the people that were on board with it were such scoundrels I didn't want them around. They weren't trustworthy in any way. 

Luke 26:49

So in terms of being acutely addicted and finding support, the self-honesty is the most difficult thing to attain. But once one does have some degree of humility and self-honesty, that's when the chinks in the armor start to appear. And the addict, again, going to my subjective experience, you start to get those thoughts, wow, maybe I should quit. Maybe there's a way to quit. It seems impossible, when you're in the throes of addiction that you could ever feel remotely comfortable in your experience, in your body without drugs and or alcohol, but that little glimmer of hope that it could be possible is really all that it takes. 

Luke 27:37

And at that point, and it's a really difficult point for us to get to, us addicts, is to ask for help. And so we can get into that. Going back to some of the things that are more in the realm of attachments, or just habits that don't serve us, I think the support can come earlier there because there's not a lot of shame attached to having a problem that almost everyone has. So if we're talking about sex, at some point in most of our lives, we found ourselves having sex that we regret with people with whom we would prefer not to interact, or making mistakes and getting ourselves hurt, or being selfish and hurting other people.

Luke 28:23

Human beings have a lot of problems with sex, and so that's a pretty universal issue. And some of us outgrow it and sort of mature and some of us never do. Some of us do later in life, which was certainly the case for me. And that's the kind of thing that you could share with a trusted family member or friend. Like wow, I did it again. I had a one night stand. I don't really feel good about it. I'd like to stop doing that, or whatever your moral compass is guiding you to do. 

Luke 28:50

But if you have people that you trust, there's not that much shame associated with it depending on the level of depravity of your adventures. The same with sugar, watching too much TV, doom scrolling on the internet, having your phone strapped to your hip and constantly refreshing, refreshing, refreshing, and checking all the apps. That's the kind of thing that I think is easier to get support with because you're not going to feel as personally attacked or threatened if people lovingly support you, if you ask for their support.

Luke 29:24

Whereas if you're in full blown addiction, even if you were to ask for help from someone that cares about you and maybe in a moment of despair, you cop to your issue, it's, a, really potentially hurtful because you can feel so judged when you did it again and then your loved one calls you on it, or you can feel very threatened by that person calling you on it because you associate yourself so closely with that addiction, it really becomes kind of part of who you are. So if somebody calls out the addiction, it can feel like an attack on you because the ego gets so-- the ego comes to the forefront to such a degree in addiction. 

Luke 30:18

And the ego is really the mechanism by which your addiction is protected and hidden. And that's why within circles of recovery, there's so much emphasis on building an awareness of how the ego functions and operates, because that is really the main block to sobriety. And so in terms of getting support, much easier to get support with things that aren't that shameful, aren't that difficult to curtail or manage. But when you get into the realm of like, wow, you are really addicted to a substance, it's going to be difficult to accept the loving criticism of people around you, because the defenses are so hardcore. 

Luke 31:05

Even if you know in your heart, man, I'm really in a dangerous place with this, and this is really hurting me, the fear of stopping is so powerful, as is the shame that starts to build up over time when you've told yourself, I'm not going to do it again, and then you find yourself doing it again, and again, and again, and again. There's a real compounding of that shame when you're in active addiction. And that's one of the reasons why addicts tend to attempt to at least hide it from the people that love them, because they're already ashamed of themselves. 

Luke 31:46

They don't need someone else pointing the finger at them, even if they're not doing that, if it just feels like that. Then your shame is affirmed by the people around you that, yes, you are a loser. Yes, you are really screwing up. And it's even worse because if an addict is surrounded by people who don't have that propensity and don't have the addictive tendencies, there is no way they will ever understand. 

Bailey 32:15


Luke 32:15

So someone who's not an addict who's close to an addict, the solution to them is so obvious. It's just, why don't you just stop? Stop. It's so obvious to them that this person is hurting themselves and probably hurting everyone around them. And if they don't have experience with addiction, it could be a judge, a cop, a mom, a dad, a wife, a husband, a therapist, just quit. Just quit using. Can't you see you're hurting yourself? That doesn't work. Doesn't work. Because those people don't understand what goes on and the physiology and the mindset of someone who's addicted.

Luke 32:57

And we can get into rehabs and sober living and 12-step programs, and all that. I think that's the main reason why recovery groups are so effective. They're not always effective, but if somebody's really willing to put in the work and commits themselves, as I did, it was very effective for me. It's that an addict will listen to another addict that speaks their language and understands what they've been through that has found a way out of that hole. What they won't listen to is somebody talking down to them, or nagging them, or preaching to them. 

Luke 33:37

And this is why historically, religion has not been very effective in curtailing people's addictions. Because unless that priest or rabbi is a former alcoholic or addict, we won't listen to them. It's just noise. It's just white noise. It's somebody nagging us. It's somebody judging us. It's somebody's trying to control us. We want to be free and do our thing. I do what I want when I want. There's so much defiance inherent to the addict’s ego that even if the addict knows it's wrong for them and they should stop, they're never going to listen to someone who hasn't really felt what it feels like to be addicted and to be able to stop. If you haven't walked in those shoes, it's very difficult to tell someone where the path is.

Bailey 34:27

I've never experienced personally, serious addiction, but I dated a gambling addict for five years. For me, I could feel the difference between us. It wasn't that I was like, why don't you just stop? But I think I felt really strongly that I couldn't understand him in this way that was like, why can't you ask for help before it happens again? I remember over and over, I had a feeling that he was going to gamble again, or do something that he wasn't going to be proud of, or something that was going to hurt our lives. 

Bailey 35:17

And I would ask him about it and try to check in and show him that I cared about him and that I just want things to be better, like, I'm here to help you. And every single time, he would just do it again. And that's I think what hurt me the most, is that I tried so hard to be there. And I just couldn't understand why he couldn't connect with me about it.

Luke 35:45

Yeah. I forgot to mention gambling I think just because that's one-- I feel like I've had just about every addiction on the planet. Gambling is not one of them for me personally. I remember being a kid and going to Vegas. Not a kid, whatever. In my 20s and pump $20 in a slot machine or something, just be like, this sucks. I just lost $20. I'm out of here. But I have known a couple of people with gambling addictions, and man, that one is really, really destructive. Talk about levels of shame.

Luke 36:21

A great example of one of the most tragic things about any kind of addiction, is that underneath all addiction is some flavor of pain. It could be shame. It could be trauma. It could be all of those. But there's definitely shame. Because every person that's not a sociopath or a psychopath has a conscience, and maybe even addicts that are sociopaths and psychopaths have at least this much conscience. 

Luke 36:56

But when we're doing something that goes against our base survival instincts, there's usually a part of us to some degree, however dim that awareness might be that we're doing something against our own best interest. And so when you use or when you gamble, it feels very shameful. And the really insidious thing about it is that the way addicts deal with shame is to use. And so you create this vicious cycle. 

Luke 37:31

So say, in the case of a gambler, and again, I don't have that personal experience, but addiction is addiction at a certain level. So say, I'm a gambling addict, and I got five grand in the bank, and that's supposed to pay my bills and everything for the next month or two. And then I get the obsession of the mind because I'm feeling uncomfortable in my skin, and I want to get that rush of like I'm going to win, or I'm going to lose. It's the same rush, whether you're going to win or lose. 

Luke 38:01

It's a feeling in the body that says, if I do this thing, I'm going to feel different than I feel right now. Even if it feels bad, it's better than feeling what I'm feeling. So then the mind starts to obsess about going to the casino, for example. I think that's where people do it. You can probably gamble online now for all I know. And then I fight myself. There's an inner battle. Oh, man, what if my wife finds out? What if my friends find out? What am I going to do if I can't pay my rent if I lose the money? 

Luke 38:34

Wow, what if I win, though? And the minute you get the idea, the mind starts building into this juggernaut of inertia, where even if you had the 10 people that love you the most in your life saying, don't do this again. Remember what happened last time. We have the evidence right here on your bank statement. Look, don't do it. Once an addict gets it in their head that they're going to do it, a, the last thing they're going to do is tell anyone that could possibly get in the way of them doing it, because they already decided they're going to do it, whether it's done against their own will or not. 

Luke 39:12

Because when you're really addicted, your willpower means nothing. And we can get into that later, but the thing that happens that's so sad is you have that conscious awareness inside, however distant it might be, that, oh, man, I really shouldn't do this, but goddamnit, I have to do it. And so you feel ashamed that you're going to do it, and then you do the thing, and there's still that part of you that knows you weren't supposed to do it and you told yourself you weren't going to, and now you've compounded that shame. 

Luke 39:44

And so it's this incredibly destructive just such a sad cycle of feeling shame, feeling pain, feeling hurt, trying to numb it or escape it. Knowing you did that again, now you've doubled or tripled or quadrupled the shame and the pain and the hurt underneath the addiction, and there you go. And this can go on for 20, 30, 40, 50 year, if you live that long. And so it really is such a heartbreaking aspect of the human experience, really acute addiction. Because the people around you don't understand. No matter how much they love you, they will never understand unless they're a fellow addict that has made it out alive to tell the tale. And the weird thing about addiction, and love-hate relationship, watching the show Intervention. 

Bailey 40:45

I used to love that show.

Luke 40:46

Oh, man, it's really a great study on addiction. And I think one of the reasons I like watching it, not like I watch it all the time, but I've definitely watched seasons of it at different points over the years, a, it reminds me that I don't want to go back there. It gives me even more empathy and compassion for people that are still out there in that struggle because sometimes I forget, because it's been 27 years since I lived like that. 

Luke 41:21

So one of the things that happens when you get sober, especially if you surround yourself around a lot of other people in recovery, which is very necessary, in most cases, you think everyone else in the world quit doing drugs, because you're not doing it. It's a weird thing. I remember when I first got sober, I don't know, I'd be out somewhere, and I'd smell-- I got to shut all my notifications here. Everything's going crazy. I'd be out somewhere and smell weed and I'm like, what? People still do that? 

Luke 41:51

When I was playing a band, I'd be out at a club, and you'd run into someone, and their eyes are like saucers, and you're like, oh, this person's high on coke. What? People still do that? So you just get so removed from it that you think everyone else figured it out by now. And obviously, they haven't. I mean, Look at the Fentanyl crisis in this country. It's a shit show out there. 

Luke 42:12

But anyway, back to intervention. So I like to just remind myself that I need to stay on the straight and narrow, or I'm going to end up like the person I'm watching as the subject of that show. And I also really love predicting whether or not the person who is being intervened upon is going to surrender and if they're going to allow themselves to be checked into rehab. And if so, are they going to stay sober afterward? 

Luke 42:44

Because at the end of the show, they're like, oh, Jimmy got out of rehab, and he's been sober for 18 months, or they give the day, since 2015, or whatever. And you're like, yes. And I got to say, I'm not bragging, but I'm pretty damn good at predicting which addicts that gets the intervention is going to stick. There's a certain quality of surrender that takes place when an addicts ego accepts its demise. 

Luke 43:22

Yeah, there's a certain quality to that moment when they say, okay, mom and dad and brother and sister, all right, I'm going to go. There's a really interesting phenomenon that I studied a lot early in my recovery, and it's around the principle of surrender. Surrender is something that can't be produced on demand at will. It requires a willingness to allow oneself to surrender, but the act of surrender is actually bestowed upon us by grace. And this is the moment that so beautiful to watch.

Luke 44:05

When an addict allows their ego to subside for that moment, sometimes it's a millisecond where they just go, okay, and they admit they're defeated, and they put themselves in the position to receive the gift of surrender. And the gift of surrender is when there's no more fight, there's no more defiance, there's no more manipulating and lying to oneself or to other people. 

Luke 44:38

And so I love to watch that process unfold because I know the exact moment that it happened for me. And there were successive layers of surrender when I had that experience. So a, on that show, I love to watch that, but the point I was really getting to in relation to other people, addiction framed in the model of a disease, which I think it is, it's a mental illness. It's a physical illness. It's a spiritual illness. And it is, in the classical sense to me, a dis ease, a lack of ease. There’s a malfunction in the system. 

Luke 45:15

And the strange thing about the disease of addiction or alcoholism that makes it very unique is that when you have an addict at the nucleus of a family, for example, if that family gets in that enabling pattern, which is also something really fascinating to watch an intervention too, because you see the codependent mom keeps giving the kid money, and paying their credit cards, and giving them a place to crash in between binges. And I'm sitting there, like, mom, you're killing this kid, you know. That's a really difficult place to be. 

Luke 45:50

But what's really interesting about addiction and the people around them is when you have an addict or an alcoholic at the nucleus of a family, unless that family develops boundaries and ultimatums and is aware of codependency and stops enabling them, if they are enabling and they allow the addict to become the center of attention and the nucleus of the family, the phenomenal thing that happens that's so bizarre is that person infects everyone in their entire family or friends circle with the emotional and mental sickness of addiction, even if the other people don't do anything addictive. 

Luke 46:34

They all get addicted to fixing that person and codependency. Now if you look at someone that gets diabetes, or cancer, or leukemia, whatever, you can have that person who's sick in the nucleus of the family, and everyone's attention might be on that person. And the family members and loved ones and friends might be concerned and doing everything they can to help that person, but they don't also get leukemia. Everyone else doesn't get sick. They might be stressed. They might be challenged. It might be painful. 

Luke 47:11

They might experience all sorts of uncomfortable emotions, but it doesn't infect the entire family system the way that addiction does. And that show Intervention, again, is a really great study of that phenomenon, how the addict leaks out that spiritual dis ease into the family. It's like a possession in a way. There's like a dark spirit that takes over the addict, or maybe many dark spirits, in some cases. Probably it was the case for me. 

Luke 47:48

And it's like, everyone gets infected with that dark spiritual energy unless they are educated about how to deal with someone who's addicted in your family, which is a really difficult thing to face because it usually involves, in some way or another, to some degree, cutting that person off from help, because the help the majority of the time, even though it's well intentioned, and it's coming from love, if you're supporting an addict, and then continuing to destroy themselves, and ultimately kill themselves, it's a distorted love, and that love can get very warped to the point where the attempts to love the person in the center of the family who's an addict actually just speed up their demise. 

Luke 48:36

And I haven't had a child that's an addict, so I it's easy for me to say like, yeah, you just cut them off. Don't enable them. I know it's very, very difficult to do so. And I'm sure quite common that a family is healthy and educated on codependency and enabling, and they cut the addict off, and that addict dies anyway. And that's the thing. Most people that are true addicts, this is the crazy thing, most of us either die, or end up on the streets, or end up in a mental health facility, or in prison.

Luke 49:15

It doesn't just go away. When somebody's addicted to drugs and alcohol, it doesn't just get better over time. Someone might be abusing drugs and alcohol for a period of time. Maybe they're selling their wild oats. They're in college. They went through a difficult divorce, or lost their job, and maybe they're self-soothing and medicating themselves for a period of time, but there are many, many people who are able to do that and don't become a full-fledge bonafide addict. 

Luke 49:46

Once you've crossed the line and you're an addict, in my experience, and I've known hundreds of other addicts like myself, unless you're able to get sober, it's never going to get better. It's not something that you improve over time. It's progressive in its nature. And addiction is progressive, even when the addict can't subjectively see that it's progressing. In fact, we're the last ones to know. 

Luke 50:16

I remember going back when I first started experimenting with heroin, for example. I had no idea that I was addicted until I was way past the point of no return. I really thought that I had it under control. It's like, you go to the pet store, and you buy a little baby boa constrictor, and it wraps itself around your finger, and it's cute, and you can just pull it off. Heroin and opiates in general are like an invisible boa constrictor that you're feeding, and you don't realize how quickly it's growing. 

Luke 50:56

And next thing you know, you think it's just going to wrap around your fingers or your forearm, and you're going to play with it, and it's got your entire body in a chokehold, and it is not letting go. But you don't realize how quickly it's growing. And that's just part of the progressive nature. And another really weird thing about addiction and alcoholism is that it also progresses even during periods of abstinence. 

Luke 51:24

And this has been evidenced to me time and time again, being in recovery groups, and someone would come in, and they'd be in a really bad way with drugs and alcohol, they'd get sober for six months, or two years or five years, and then they would, what we call go out, meaning they would relapse. And it's not that they would pick up where they were before. They would pick up worse than they were before. Like the addiction has been mutating and percolating within their being even though they've had a period of abstinence. 

Luke 52:01

Yeah, so it's like with addiction, if you have a period of sobriety, and then you start again, you don't get to go back to the beginning and hit the first domino again. You go back to the last fallen domino in line, and you start from there. There's so many things that are so tragic about this particular topic, and I just have so much compassion and empathy for people who are in it and haven't found a way out, because it's so nasty, and it's so destructive, again, not just to the person who's so afflicted, but to everyone around them. It's insane.

Bailey 52:48

You talk about the addict. Their addiction is progressing, but myself, I'm someone who's been close to addicts for most of my life. And I think that, as the addiction is progressing, there's a similar denial going on in you, where you're like, you don't want to believe that they're as far as they are into it. And then when you realize that they are, and you're trying to pull them out of it over and over again, your ego becomes addicted to achieving the outcome of them getting better because you care about them. 

Bailey 53:41

But also, it's just like, you can't let that happen. Like, I can't let that happen to them. So then you are seeing this happen to them, and you get to a point, I think, where you're like, they can't do it without me. So then it's even harder to let go. And that's where it's so hard to draw that boundary, to let them go. And in my experience, they don't get better until you fully do. It's so hard to see while you're in it, but looking back on it, you can see how encouraging you are by basically taking care of everything that should have crashed for them.

Luke 54:34

Yeah, there's a lot in that particular piece. It's like my love should be enough for them to want to live. 

Bailey 54:47


Luke 54:48

And so it's very easy to personalize the addict’s behavior because it's like, okay, my love should be enough. If my love is not enough, maybe I'm not enough, so I'm just going to love them harder

Bailey 55:06

They don't have love for me. Yeah. 

Luke 55:08

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's a lot. That's what I mean, man. It's crazy how destructive addiction is for the loved ones of the addict. It's wild.

Bailey 55:22

While you were talking about the show, I think completely subconsciously, because I used to watch that, what, maybe 10 years ago when I was in its first few seasons. I think maybe I was watching it because I related to the family members so much. Maybe I was trying to learn how to draw that boundary, or how to get someone out of it.

Luke 55:51

Yeah. Well, another thing about the codependency is it's pretty likely that if a non-addict person gravitates toward an addict, even if they weren't one at first, they're still going to have that obsessive compulsive energy, even if they haven't landed on their drug of choice and really gone off the deep end with it. There's a certain draw to a type of person who has a fixer energy, the codependent. 

Luke 56:26

And oftentimes the codependent, who is setting about to rescue the addict, has their own unhealed trauma, PTSD, pain, shame, and they might not get the same type of relief, or avoidance, or escape that the addict does using substances, but they're wired in a very similar way. And what they use to self-medicate is taking the focus off themselves and the things that they need to heal and address and putting all of their focus and attention on the addict as a diversion to evade the shit that they need to work on.

Bailey 57:07

It's the perfect escape.

Luke 57:10

And it's also very insidious because on the surface, it looks like you're a really kind and caring person who is doing everything they can to help someone that they love. But hidden underneath that sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, is a more hidden, subversive type of escapism, that's becoming addicted to that person as a means of escape, rather than joining them in escaping through the use of substances. 

Luke 57:45

So it's like you have two addicts really in a codependent relationship of that nature. And the one who is not using and drinking gets off scot-free because it's much harder to see their behavior, but it has a very similar effect. Your life just completely goes to shit. The unmanageability, the chaos, the drama, all of those things that come from the futile attempt to fix and regulate and save an addict. 

Luke 58:19

Now, the difficulty here that I alluded to before is for the loved one of an addict knowing when and where and how to draw the line. And this is something that's really beautiful to watch on the show Intervention too, is you see the therapist and the experts in addiction recovery, 90% of the time, they send the whole family to codependency rehab too.

Bailey 58:49

Oh, that's great. Yeah, I don't remember that part. 

Luke 58:52

Because they know it's not going to stick if you have a sick family that's been infected with codependency and addiction. And maybe the addict has a very sincere surrender at depth, and they avail themselves to the help that's been offered. As ex addicts and experts on the subject, the counselors, and therapists, and so on, know that even if that person goes to rehab and get sober if they come back out into that sick family dynamic, their chances of staying sober are slim to none. 

Luke 59:23

Because the family will get the addict sick again because they haven't healed themselves. So it's really interesting to watch the expertise. And many people you don't have to watch the show to just understand how that works. I'm sure there's people listening that have had an addict in their family, or they were the addict, and so on, and you can see this demonstrated in real time, but I think it's really important for the whole family unit or the whole friend group to become educated and commit to their own recovery because in that dynamic, everyone's sick. 

Luke 59:57

It's just easier to hide the sickness of the enablers because on the surface, it looks like they're being of service and expressing their love in the best way they know how. And I'll give you a story about one experience that I had with that tough love that thankfully went well. It doesn't always go well. As I said, some people are healthy enough to cut off their enabling, and then that person doesn't make it. 

Luke 1:00:27

Many years ago-- I have to ask my brother, Cody, how long he's been sober, but I was maybe I don't know, five or six years sober back in early 2000s. And my brother, Cody, I hope he hears this someday because I love you, man. I love my brother. He's such a sweetheart. He was a rapper. He was a little gangster. He carried guns, and it was like an Eminem character. And just doing all kinds of dark suit and involved in crime and violence, a lot of violence. 

Luke 1:01:11

And that was never my lane. I'm a lover, not a fighter. So even when I was on drugs, I never gotten a fight. I never had any problems like that. But Cody was a tough customer. His way of coping with his childhood and things that he went through was through aggression, and violence, and extraversion, and mine was more about receding, and cowering, and hiding, and introversion. We all have our personality types. 

Luke 1:01:42

So anyway, I'm living in LA. I'm sober. I'm living with the other brother, Andy, who was just like a normal guy. I don't know, I've seen him drink a beer three times. He just doesn't seem to have that tendency. And we were roommates, and my brother, Cody, decides to move to California. And he gets out to California, and he's up to the same shenanigans he was in Colorado where he was from, and finds himself in this apartment out in the valley. 

Luke 1:02:13

He gets in a conflict with some drug dealers who break into his apartment one day when he's in there to beat him up, or rob him, or whatever. And he's asleep. He wakes up. Scott is gone, thankfully doesn't shoot anyone, but pistol whips the guy, knocks him down the stairs, drags him outside, this whole shit show, drug addicts, drug dealer, hood rat drama. So he gets kicked out of his apartment, of course. Cops come. It's a whole thing. 

Luke 1:02:44

So he comes over, told me what happened, and I'm sober. I'm going to meetings three times a day. I don't hang around anyone in that world at all anymore. I let go of all my friends when I got well, my "friends". Some of them were, but they were drug buddy friends nonetheless. So I surrounded myself with sober people. There was no drama, none of that in my life, no crime, none of that weird stuff. 

Luke 1:03:09

So he comes over, told me what happened, and he's like, yo, I don't have a place to live. Now I'm going to have to sleep in my car. Can I come live with you guys or stay with you for a while until I get back on my feet? And thankfully at that time, I had enough wisdom and understanding about the nature of this things that as much as it broke my heart, I just told him, no, man. I said, Cody, guy, I love you, but I'm sober. I can't have this kind of energy around my house. 

Luke 1:03:41

And he was so pissed off, man. He hated me. And I found out years later that my other brother, Andy, and Andy if you ever hear this, you little shit. He and Andy are full brothers, and I'm a half with both of them. We have different mom. And so they're really tight. They're similar in age and grew up together. I didn't grow up with them. They're 12 and eight years younger than I so we weren't as close. 

Luke 1:04:09

But Andy wasn't as well versed in enabling, and codependency, and stuff, so Andy told Cody how to get up on the roof of my apartment, and Cody went up there and was just camping up there basically and lived on our roof unbeknownst to me for a while. And then in a typical addict fashion, it was all my fault. I'm the dick big brother. I don't care about him. I won't help him out. He's in a bad spot, etc. 

Luke 1:04:38

And I just had to take the arrows and be willing to be hated by someone that I really loved because, a, I knew it would hurt me to have him in my environment. I wasn't trying to get pistol whipped and have all this coke dealer drama in my house. So it's self-preservation, but I also knew that it wouldn't be doing him any favors to make it easier for him to continue living the life that he was living. 

Luke 1:05:03

So he hates my guts. I'm the worst brother ever. He won't talk to me. He'd basically cut me off of communication while he's sleeping up on the roof of my apartment without my knowledge, which I didn't find out till quite some time later. Anyway, long story short, few months go by, he softens up a little bit, and calls me one day and asked for advice about his predicament. 

Luke 1:05:35

And this is going to sound weird to some people listening, but he was starting to take pills and stuff, and he's finding himself having some problems in that realm, which if you get into opiates, you're talking physical addiction, which is a whole other animal than just doing coke on the weekends when you go out drinking with your buddies. When you get into the opiate game, it gets real gnarly and real dark. 

Bailey 1:06:03

You're losing time too.

Luke 1:06:06

 Yeah, and the quitting, it's almost impossible to do on your own because it's just so painful. So anyway, my advice to him, as I recall, and he could probably correct me on the details of this, but he probably thought I was going to say, Cody, you're an addict. You need to get sober. You need to quit doing drugs. And my advice to him was, you're probably not doing enough drugs because if you were, you could hit the end of your run a lot faster. 

Luke 1:06:39

Because you have to hit bottom. And I knew just because he called me as the sober, older brother, that's not hitting bottom, like saying, hey, I'm having a problem. Calling me and saying, hey, can you take me to a meeting right now? Now we're talking. He wasn't there. He's still thinking he can manage it and control it. He's getting a little squirrely with the pills, like, what should I do? 

Luke 1:07:03

And the essence of my message was like, take more pills, which some would consider reckless, but that was what I was guided to share with him because I knew if I put myself in the enemy camp of just another person trying to tell him what to do and shaming him for his decisions, then I would never be able to get through to him. I would be put in the category of people that you don't ask for help because they're going to put the kibosh on your shenanigans. 

Luke 1:07:34

So I said, man, no judgment, but you got to hit a bottom, otherwise, you're never going to get sober. So if using more is what it's going to take to hit a bottom, then that's what you do. Anyway, while I'm stay at my apartment and tell him to do more drugs, I have my own way of articulating that idea, but that was the essence of it. And he got it. He understood. He understood. Anyway, so a few months go by. One day he calls me, and he says, man, I'm really hurting. Can I come hang out with you and your sober buddies and go to one of those meetings? 

Bailey 1:08:11


Luke 1:08:16

Yeah, he surrendered. He hit bottom. He hit bottom. He surrendered. And that was the call I was waiting for. And so he did, we did, and now he's still sober. I don't know, 15 years, whatever it is. I don't even count anymore. Has a beautiful baby, a wife. He's got his own business. He's got just immovable integrity, and moral character, which doesn't just happen from abstinence, by the way. 

Luke 1:08:59

That's probably a whole other podcast. Not only did he stay sober, but through the grace of God and his commitment to himself, he really transformed his entire life. He's just a completely different person. And some time afterward, actually, he's shared this with me many times, he thanked me for not letting him come live at my house. 

Bailey 1:09:26

Yeah. That's awesome. 

Luke 1:09:28

Directly straight up. Thank you so much for not helping me because it facilitated the reality check he needed to then later call me and say, okay, will you help me? Will you take me to a meeting? And that could have gone the other way, and I knew that. I could have told him, you need to hit a bottom. Just go nuts with the drugs. If you're going to do it, do it. If not, stop. And no, you're not staying at my house. It could have very easily. 

Luke 1:10:06

I was flipping a coin, and those could have been decisions or statements that I regretted for the rest of my life, but I just felt in my heart that that was the most wise path to take on my behalf. And luckily, for me, it worked out as I hoped it would, but for many it doesn't. You do what you think is the highest service to the addict, and you don't enable them, and you create boundaries, and apply tough love, and sometimes it doesn't go that way. Sometimes they don't make it. 

Luke 1:10:47

There's all sorts of considerations between destiny, fate, karma, luck. I don't know. You know what's funny, Bailey, sometimes I think about-- I've had this experience in quite a few psychedelic ceremonies and whatnot. I sense that I was an alcoholic in a number of lifetimes before, and I couldn't get it. Meaning I couldn't stop it. Yeah, I couldn't stop. 

Luke 1:11:25

And for some reason, in this lifetime, even when I was in the depths of addiction, there was this very dim light in the background, that let me know that my life couldn't be bigger than that and that it wasn't supposed to go this way. You know what I mean? Some addicts just resign themselves, like, fuck my life, FML. Just like, I'm done. And they just resign themselves to a life of misery and pain, and ultimately, their demise. 

Luke 1:12:08

And there was just something in me. It's not something I can take credit for because I think it was that little seed, even though I ignored it for decades. It was there. And it was maybe a combination of my higher self, my eternal self, God, saying, hey, man, you got another shot this time. And I feel like this was the lifetime where I was given enough of that awareness where I eventually, and it took, like I said, a very long time, just grabbed on to that. 

Luke 1:12:48

But it also gives me that perspective of just that I've probably failed at this many times. Also gives me that much more empathy for people who never have the impetus to even try to quit, or get sober, or acknowledge to themselves that they have a problem. I have no judgment against addicts because I'm pretty certain that I was one quite a few times and just rode it out until the bitter end, and then came back and did it again, and again, and again. And for some reason, this time was like, all right, I'm dealing with the shit this time. And through the grace of God, I have, but it's just a sad reality that some addicts are just going to die.

Bailey 1:13:42

Well, I'm glad you got off the wheel this time. 

Luke 1:13:46

Oh, my God. What a gift. Thankfully, it has never been a gift that I've taken for granted. It's a weird thing because as I gain a, I think, greater understanding of the fallacy of time, there's not a moment in the past and not a moment in the future, in a moment now, time is not linear. We hear time is a construct, and it's like, you can just throw that out there. But in my experience, there really is just one eternal moment.

Luke 1:14:33

 And this, I think, took me some years to understand why the experience of being an addict is so visceral and so immediate in my awareness. I can feel it, touch it, taste it, see it, smell it. I remember those moments of just absolute despair, and desperation, and depravity, and shame and just, ugh, all of it like it was five minutes ago. And at the very same time, it's like it was another person in another lifetime all together, and that was never me, for it was ages and ages and ages ago. 

Bailey 1:15:24

You would never do that. 

Luke 1:15:25

Yeah, I think because my relationship with time has evolved over the years that it really all is happening in this moment. This moment, sitting here with you right now is just a different vantage point on the moment when I was crawling around on the carpet, smoking plastic, hoping it was a rock of crack, or drywall, and shit. Honestly, it was just so grim, so depressing. And I'm so grateful that I have that awareness and that tangible relationship with what we would call the past, because I never forget how dark it was. 

Luke 1:16:06

Even though in the realm of clock and calendar time, it was 27 years ago, to me and my subjective experience, it's right now. I can go back there like that. I don't spend time there. But knowing how close it is, and knowing that the gift I received is, in many ways an earned-- I don't want to say undeserved because I think we all deserve the grace of God. But literally, the only thing I did to facilitate my initial sobriety was just humble myself a bit and avail myself to the help that I needed. 

Luke 1:16:53

And literally, God did the rest. And then I put in a lot of work for-- I'm still putting in work and in my own different ways, but in terms of committing to my recovery, again, there was something in me, and I just thought, man, this is my only shot at this. And if I don't seize this opportunity, it might never happen again. And that's also one of the things. I never have a thought, like, oh, I'd love to have some whiskey or do a little heroin. I'm not in that kind of pain, where I'm seeking relief like that. 

Luke 1:17:32

But if I ever did have the idea, my insurance policy is that there's absolutely no way that I can guarantee that I wouldn't end up in the exact same spot I was at 26 years old by next week. And I'm quite certain that if I were to start again, it would be worse than ever. And what's even more terrifying is that there's absolutely no guarantee that God would enter my life like God did the first time, and completely annihilate my cravings and obsession about using drugs and alcohol. 

Luke 1:18:15

And that's what happened for me. It went away in a flash because I prayed for it. I prayed for that gift in earnest, without reservations. I really turned my life over to the care of God as I understood God, which was zero. No faith, no belief, nothing, just a bit of awareness that that's kind of how this thing works, how recovery works, is it's a thing that God has to help you. 

Bailey 1:18:57

And it's what you're supposed to do. 

Luke 1:18:58

Yeah, that's what they told me to do in rehab, literally. I remember I went to the nurse's office because they take your vitals and stuff when you come in and make sure you don't croak. And I went in there, and I was really in a bad way. And I asked the nurse, maybe they give me a physical or something. Can I get some medication? Can I get some Dilaudid or something to feel a little more comfortable? And they took my vitals and they said, actually, you seem fine physically, so we're not willing to do that. 

Luke 1:19:31

And she told me to go to my room and to pray to God. And that was the only tool or solution I was offered. And so that's what I did. The rest is history. And the cool thing about that is it was like a multifaceted gift because I didn't think it was going to work. I didn't believe in God. I wasn't religious. I wasn't spiritual. I guess you could have classified me as an agnostic, maybe not atheist, because I wasn't anti-God. I just was unaware. I was unlearned. I was unknowing. It seemed very unlikely that that would work. 

Luke 1:20:19

And the beauty of it is that even though I didn't believe in God, because I humbled myself and asked for God's help, God still helped me. And the coolest thing about that is that I recognized immediately that something in me had changed, and it was something that I alone could have absolutely never changed myself. 

Bailey 1:20:48

It was immediate. 

Luke 1:20:49

Yeah. And so I was given proof that I couldn't dispute. There was no rationalizing how one day I'm checking into rehab, shot gunning beers and joints in the parking lot. My mom dropped me off to the point where they weren't going to let me in because it was midnight or something, and they're like, if you don't get them in here right now-- talking to my mom in the parking lot. He's not getting in. So I check in. I had to drink up to the door of the rehab, in the parking lot. 

Luke 1:21:29

I'm just like, I got to get it all in because I knew it was going to be the last one ever, for some reason. And so to go from that guy to the very next day, knowing that it was over, was absolute proof that something other than myself had entered into my field and saved me, literally. It's a religious conversion. I was saved. I turned my life to Jesus, and I was saved. I wasn't talking to Jesus. I was just talking to God in general, but I was very literally saved in the truest sense of the word and released from bondage. 

Luke 1:21:52

And so I just place such a high value on that gift that I just feel like I could never smack the hand that feeds and tempt fate. No matter how difficult life has been or how uncomfortable I've been at times, or just things that I've had to work through and my sobriety, there's just a hard line, as far as that goes, that I don't think that I'll ever cross.

Bailey 1:22:48

God is good.

Luke 1:22:50

Oh, man. It's wild. Isn't that some shit, though, that you don't have to believe in God for God to help you. Think about that. That's a trip. For anyone who's an atheist or agnostic listening that might be having some difficulties in life, it's so hard to fathom that prayer is a real technology that is provable, reliable, verifiable. And there's no way I would believe that if it had not worked for me thousands of times. 

Luke 1:23:28

And I still forget. Even having an abundance of empirical evidence to support that fact, I still try to figure my life out and solve my own problems all the time. Sometimes the last thing I think of is like, oh, there's this benevolent, all knowing, omniscient, omnipotent, power in the universe, that wants the highest good for me and won't interfere with my free will, which is also another beautiful gift that our Creator gives us. 

Luke 1:24:03

It's like God doesn't just intervene in your life, I think, unless there's an invitation of some kind. So this intelligence, this loving being that we call God is just chilling, allowing me to stray as far as I want to stray from it. And the moment I say, hey, oops, I screwed up. I want to come back. I'm instantly back. I'm may not feel instantly back, but I'm back in the grace as soon as I decide that I want to be and then I'm willing to be. It's incredible.

Bailey 1:24:36

Yeah. I love that so much. So much of our life is, I think, restricted to what we believe. So many of our outcomes, we can really only get them if we believe that they're possible. But that seems to be a very important mechanism of the surrender, is the end of the rock bottom. It's like, you go so far that it's almost like you let your beliefs go. What you believe doesn't matter because you're going to die if you don't get his help. Get back in the grace.

Luke 1:25:19

That's true. That's the beautiful thing about hitting bottom, if you live to tell the tale, the humility that comes from truly hitting a bottom. And I think that's another thing too that prolonged my addiction, was I was always waiting till the other shoe dropped. I remember thinking, well, if I get evicted from my apartment, which I wish I would have collected on, but I used to have a stack of eviction notices. They would come in to the door of my apartment. My rent was $450 in the studio apartment behind the Chinese Theater, and I couldn't pay it. I was unemployable. 

Luke 1:26:04

But anyway, I thought, okay, if I get beat up badly, get robbed, knifed, or shot, if I get arrested, if I go to jail, or end up going to prison because I was dealing drugs, so that was a very likely possibility-- I don't know, maybe if my family totally disowned me, I was just thinking about, okay, if and when, more when than if, the worst case scenario happens to me, then I'll get sober. Because I knew that I would need to hit a bottom. 

Luke 1:26:38

And so I always perceived the bottom as being some external pressure that would at some point be applied based on the decisions that I was making for my life. And what ended up happening was I wasn't winning at life, trust me. But there was never like an acute moment like that, where I did get beat up or just have something really horrible happen, crash a car, get a DUI. I never got a DUI because I couldn't even afford to get a car for many years, a blessing in disguise. 

Luke 1:27:18

But I think people think of a bottom as the divorce, losing your career, losing your job, the car accident, the arrest, going to jail. Those are just external symptoms of how unmanageable one's inner thought and feeling life has become to where their decision making capacity is so hindered that they start to get really sloppy and stupid, and do things consciously or unconsciously that put themselves in harm's way. So we think of a bottom as an event in life that happens that is objectively so bad that it causes the addict to wake up. 

Luke 1:27:57

My view on hitting bottom is, it's an internal phenomenon that can happen even when all of the pieces in your life in a material sense are still intact. You still have your kids. You still have the marriage. You might have money. You might still have a company, or a career, a good job, nothing's falling apart, but inside, you know that you're about to or have crossed the Rubicon of not caring if you're here anymore and that living seems so much more painful than just throwing in the towel and being willing to die.

Luke 1:28:39

It's like an internal hopelessness at depth. No matter what's going on in one's external life, the sense of pain, and shame, and all of those festering emotions, and the agony of living with a chaotic out of control mind and thinking world becomes so painful that you hit that bottom on the inside. And it's quite a beautiful thing albeit tragic that with some level of self-honesty and self-awareness, someone can hit bottom without their entire external life imploding on them. It's a felt sense that I can't allow things to get any worse than this. And that's how it was for me. 

Luke 1:29:30

And also, there was, now I think about it, a sense of impending doom. And I always think about it like, in the cartoons, you'll see a little canoe going down a river, and it's about to go over a deadly waterfall, and they're trying to paddle to the shore and paddle to the shore. And then you can see, as the viewer, oh, man, they're about to go over the waterfall. For lack of a better analog, that's the feeling I had. I was like, I think I'm pretty close to being a victim of violence, or car accident, or being arrested, going to prison. I felt like that was right around the corner. But thankfully, the internal hitting bottom, the emotional darkness and hopelessness that I felt was enough to nudge me into that surrender without actually having some of those physical manifestations transpire.

Bailey 1:30:27

As you were describing that, and I don't want to diminish the experience of an actual addict, but if I didn't know the situation that you were talking about, I couldn't have believed that you were talking about the codependent relationship with the addict, the feeling of impending doom, and the-- you said, I can't let this go on anymore. It's like, you don't know when it's going to happen. And the part where you're like, oh, well, if I get evicted, then I'll do it. If it gets really, really bad, and it's actually impossible for me to keep going in this relationship, then I'll break up with him, or then I'll cut them off. And yeah, they're so similar. It's crazy.

Luke 1:31:21

Yeah. Codependency, it has a lot of permutations, but I would say, broadly speaking, codependency is when you're addicted to another person. So you are experiencing that phenomenon of moving the goalposts. This thing was bad. He really screwed up. He came home drunk again. He got a DUI. He went and gambled all of our money away, whatever it is. And you're like, I'm going to give him one more shot, and then if this happens, I'm out. And then it happens, of course. 

Luke 1:31:52

And then you're like, all right, well, pretty pissed, pretty hurt. But there's hope. I know if I just love them harder, they're going to love me enough. They're going to feel my love, and they're going to stop this behavior. And we keep moving that goalposts further down the road until we internally have our own bottom as the person who has been infected with that person's addiction to the point where it's spreading to us and we're now addicted to solving their problems and feeding off the drama that they create in our relationship and in our lives.

Bailey 1:32:24

Yeah. I think you can see they're going over the cliff right before you, and there's a point where you ask yourself, like, how far am I going to follow them? Am I going to follow them all the way down and then be there to pick them back up? Or should I get off this road now? Can I do that, save myself?

Luke 1:32:51

Yeah, yeah. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that's just some rapids, not a waterfall, right? 

Bailey 1:32:59

Yes, absolutely.

Luke 1:32:59

We're going to get through this rough stretch of the river here. Delude ourselves. That's the thing. The human mind has such an incredible capacity for self-deception. It's one of our coping mechanisms, where we're able to justify our life situation in a way that allows us to continue on the path that in the immediate is seemingly safer than pulling the plug, which seems disastrous, in many cases. 

Luke 1:33:34

And we can fool ourselves into believing the most outlandish bullshit to keep ourselves from ripping the band aid off of whatever it is that we're going through, whether we're the addict, or we're the one that's enabling the addict. It's really difficult to make a firm decision to hop out of the river when it's really time. And that's another really beautiful principle from recovery. We've been going for a while here. Let me check our time. Yeah, an hour and a half. Every time, we'll do an hour, and that's like, seems to be 90 minutes sweet spot. 

Luke 1:34:12

I'll just highlight one more principle, and that is a principle that's very prominent in the teachings of the 12 steps of which I'm a huge fan. And that's just what I'm made of at this point in my life, are those principles. Not that they belong to the 12 steps, but they were just codified in a way that's unique to addiction and the 12 steps. And one of them is making a decision. That decision is the prerequisite for anything ever changing in your life. 

Luke 1:34:44

It's like imagine right now, if I want to come visit you in Florida. We can talk about it till the cows come home. We can talk about it all day long. Yeah, I'm going to come down to Florida, Bailey. I need to get some sun and some palm trees, see the beach, see the ocean. I'm definitely going to do it. And we'll talk about it and talk about and talk about it. Once I make a decision that I'm coming to Florida, that sets the rest of the plan in motion. Once that decision is made, I'm looking at flights. I'm looking at hotel. I'm going to buy the flight. I'm going to reserve the hotel. 

Luke 1:35:15

Now something's happening that would have never happened had I not made the decision. And that is a principle in step three. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him. You don't just turn your life over to God. You can't do that. It's too big. But you can make a decision to do so. And then making the decision to do so come the actions that follow. 

Luke 1:35:41

And in the case of the 12 steps, the actions that follow are working your way through the remaining steps. And the remaining nine, I guess, would be left after three, something like that. Math is not my strong suit. But what I'm saying is it's a beautiful principle that each decision takes us to the next inflection point of action. And then we have more decisions to make. But without the decision, it's all just hot air.

Bailey 1:36:12

Yeah. I think we should do a part two for this one. 

Luke 1:36:17

I love it.

Bailey 1:36:17

I've got a couple of more questions. Yeah, we'll do that.

Luke 1:36:21

I love it. It's funny because whenever you throw the topics on me, I swear to God every time like, I don't know. I don't really know if I can fill the episode. Do I really have enough to say? You have a good knack of picking great questions from our listeners, and our Facebook group, and stuff. 

Luke 1:36:41

Yeah, it just takes a couple of prompts, and I'm like, ooh, I really want to share this because part of how I get to keep enjoying the life I do free of addiction is by being of service. That's really, at this point, probably the main way. But because I've situated my career and my life and the way that I have, I don't often get the direct experience of really working with guys, which I did for a long time in the role of a sponsor, boots on the ground. 

Bailey 1:36:41


Luke 1:37:14

Like with my brother, Cody, for example, having someone like that is newer on the path of sobriety and really getting to help guide them as so many beautiful men guided me early in my journey. So I miss that experience of talking about this stuff and really sharing my experience. And as I said earlier, I forget that there's still people out there dealing with this. I'm not around them, so I kind of just forget that this is such an important message to share, that there's not only hope, because hope sounds weak, in a way. 

Luke 1:37:48

It's like you can have hope and still nothing happens for you. So what I would say beyond that is if anyone's listening and they're struggling with this or know someone that is, it's not that there is hope, because there's always hope for everything. Everything's in constant change, in flux, and the potentiality of all reality is infinite. So of course, there's hope. But beyond that, what's perhaps more powerful and tangible is that there is a solution. 

Luke 1:38:16

There is a solution to addiction. There's a few, but I know the solution that worked for me, and that was checking my ass into rehab, doing everything that I was told to the best of my ability, and following my aftercare program, which was immersing myself into recovery groups for a very, very long time in a super earnest committed fashion, which is not because I have some moral advantage. I just really wanted to live, and I understood that that's how that was going to happen. 

Bailey 1:39:02

You have to fill your life with it. 

Luke 1:39:03

Yeah. So I availed myself to it. There's a statement in the book Alcoholics Anonymous that says half measures availed us nothing, which is a really powerful principle. So it doesn't say that half measures availed us half results. It says that half measures, speaking of committing oneself to recovery, half measures availed us nothing. You literally get nothing for putting in half of the work toward your recovery. It's either you commit yourself, and then you get the whole thing. There's no option B. It's option A only, or else best of luck. You're going to be a failed nothing. 

Luke 1:39:52

And another beautiful one, and I swear I'll close with this, because that sounds pretty demanding, another really beautiful spiritual principle that applies to a day addiction is that we're aiming for progress, not perfection. And that makes the goal unreachable and at the same time attainable. It's like, hey, as long as I'm making progress, and I'm giving full measures toward that progress, knowing that there's not a destination at which I'm going to arrive as a finished product, it's always a work in progress. 

Luke 1:40:28

We're making progress toward perfection, but we're not setting the unrealistic expectation upon ourselves that we should be perfect at any moment or anytime soon. Maybe we're never perfect until we leave our body, and we're not encumbered by the animal instincts, and the ego, and the intellect, and all those things that are part of the human experience as a whole. So while we're here, we just have to aim toward progress and just put our heart and soul into making progress and be gentle with ourselves when we make mistakes.

Bailey 1:41:02

Yeah. And that's for everybody, every day, everybody. 

Luke 1:41:07

Yeah, true that. 

Bailey 1:41:10

All right. 

Luke 1:41:11

Well, thank you, Bailey. I love doing these AMAs. I always kind of dread it because if you're not out here in Texas, I have to stare at my computer for an hour and a half, which you know I don't like to do, but it's always just beautiful catching up with you and sharing these dialogues with people. So I really appreciate you been willing to do them with me, and also just everything else you do for our mission. 

Luke 1:41:35

For those that don't know, Bailey, maybe on the first episode we did together, we probably talked about your history, but Bailey was a listener of the show, and at one point, I was posting that I was hiring, and she applied for the position, which at the time was just an administrative catch all assistant because I was a bit overwhelmed, and there's too much for just one person to do. And then she's been so badass that she now co-produces the show and does all kinds of higher level things without which none of this would happen. So thank you.

Bailey 1:42:09

Aw, you're so welcome, Luke, and thank you for the opportunity to do it. This life, working for you, getting to spread the truth, and getting to have these conversations with you, it's such a blessing. I don't know. My life would be completely different without this, and yeah, I'm just so grateful to be a part of it. So thank you.

Luke 1:42:40

Awesome. That makes two of us. That makes tens of thousands of other people. Hopefully they hear this. 

Bailey 1:42:46


Luke 1:42:47

All right, Bailey, until we meet again. I'll see you soon.

Bailey 1:42:50

Bye, Luke. 

Luke 1:42:53

All right.


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