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Home Addiction Keith Richards' Memoir

Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter, recently came out with his new memoir, Life, one of the most interesting revelations about recovery that involves the role of music, his work and passion, in the rocker’s decision to give up heroin and cocaine. For much of his life, he used these drugs to fuel his work– many of the Stones’ greatest songs were written during the peak of Richards’s drug use. He still drinks copiously and smokes marijuana and cigarettes. Drugs had caused a number of problems in his life– he’d suffered the death of a child and the drug-related deaths of several friends and band makes, but when heroin threatened his ability to make music, he was finally willing to quit.
Media accounts of drug problems rarely mention the power of life’s meaning and purpose over addiction. Regardless, research repeatedly finds that addicts in recovery do better when they have a sense of mission, a sense that what they do matters to others and is necessary. Without key sources of meaning and purpose- like children, relationships and productive work- addicts rarely stay clean. 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous give members a sense of meaning and purpose through spirituality or religion.
However, many rehab programs and addiction professionals deter those new to recovery to work. Due to those with addictive inclinations, those new to recovery can transfer their addiction onto work instead of focusing on building a strong foundation in recovery. Recently on CNN, in an interview regarding actor and frequent substance user Charlie Sheen, Dr. Drew said that it would be “impossible” for him to work and do rehab well at the same time. That’s a common belief in rehab: people are often told the should focus only on recovery and not on work or family or other “distractions,” when they’re trying to quit.
On the other hand, Keith Richards was able to work while quitting drugs and Lindsay Lohan, who is apparently permitted to work on her fashion line while recovering at the Betty Ford Center, can be beneficial to some. While its true that addicts must pay attention to learning skills the skills to avoid relapse, research finds that in the long term it’s much more important to foster the opportunity for meaningful work and close relationships. That way, even though you can’t get what you want, you’ll still have what you need.
As an alcoholic, addict, and full-time worker, I feel that keeping busy was beneficial to my recovery. Since boredom was a huge trigger, work allowed me to stay busy and keep my mind occupied. Some new to sobriety are not able to maintain a job due to their inability to maintain accountability or responsibility. With time, this will come. Luckily, since I was a high functioning alcoholic, I was able to jump back into society and continue to move forward.