Arlina Allen has been sober since 1994 after living a wild life of drugs, alcohol, and sex. Her tagline at the time was – “If it was in a bottle, a bag or blue jeans, I was doing it!”

Alina had quite a rough childhood. She started seeing a shrink at age 9, drinking at age 10, and started smoking weed in junior high. Her parents got divorced when she was young, and she was sexually abused by their neighbor. 

Growing up, she only had two feelings: guilty and wrong – and she used addiction as her way out of pain.

As children, we don’t really have the power to change our environment that has been created by adults. We have been taught to be fundamentally flawed and that we are all sinners. And sometimes, when our brains have been wired that way, it naturally brings feelings of guilt, shame, and pain – that the only way to numb those is resorting to addiction.

Understanding the Brain’s Default Mode Network

The brain is a very efficient organ. Neurons fire and wire together to form this default mode network, which is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and memories. 

In childhood, we develop these beliefs about who we are and it’s how we operate from – just like a computer’s operating system. Also, as children, we don’t have the power to affect our environment that’s done by adults. 

We then operate from that presupposition about who we think we are, what we deserve, and what we’re capable of. 

And so, because we have this natural tendency for negativity and confirmation bias, it creates a painful feedback loop of continued self-loathing and continued pain.

Community is Key to Addiction Recovery

Eventually, after feeling lost, hopeless, and full of self-loathing, Arlina finally reached out to some sober friends who offered her a little bit of hope and safety to be able to look inward. 

Whether it’s through Alcoholics Anonymous, a therapist, or whatever that is, recognize that there is no doing this alone. Our minds can be compromised and our emotions can distort our perspective, and we can’t see things clearly. 

And so we need an objective, compassionate, third-party perspective on what’s going on because they’re unemotional and unattached about our situation. They can give us other ideas and they can see things more clearly. 

If you want to learn more about Arlina’s addiction recovery, check out Episode 125: One Day at a Time with Arlina Allen.