Thomas Jackson said, “I like liquor—its taste and its effects–and that is just the reason why I never drink it.”

For Jackson, the pleasure of drinking felt dangerous, so to protect himself he never drank. The principle in question is the principle of love. Recovery means replacing pleasure to treat pain with love to manage pain. Savor pleasure when it comes, but don’t use it to manage pain.

Addicting out of desire is a disguised form of relief from pain. Why would you feel a compulsion for destructive pleasure if you felt fulfilled? You may say to yourself you addict for fun. Really, life feels boring, tedious, or unfulfilling, or you otherwise feel a vague “dis-ease” or lack in your life.

It is not to say that pleasure is a bad thing. Everyone engages in pleasurable activities like playing, eating, or having sex. If these activities enhance your life, or at least harm no one, then pleasure for pleasure’s sake is not a problem. Pleasure is actually a gift. Pleasure is one way the Universe rewards us for right action.

Renounce pursuing pleasure to manage pain, however. If you are living life correctly, including enjoying the moment-by-moment experience of existence, then pleasure will be abundant—you need not seek it through addiction to relieve your pain. There are other pain management solutions other than addicting.

Many people can have an occasional drink or drug, enjoy themselves, and go on with their lives with no compulsion to continue using and with no adverse consequences. They lack addictive vulnerability to these substances. It is only when a compulsion arises to pursue pleasure to manage pain to the detriment of yourself and others that you violate the principle of love. Putting the pursuit of pleasure before self-love causes tremendous suffering for yourself and others. It creates a warehouse of regrets. In the end, you will not look back and savor how many times you addicted.

To commit yourself to the principle of love over pleasure requires that you surrender to the dictates of your conscience. When you are in pain or distress, ask yourself, “What would Love do?” Then listen to the silent wisdom of your conscience. Have the courage to do what you know to be best for you and others. The quality of your recovery is proportional to your submission of your will to your conscience. When you submit, you win. You don’t have to like it. Just do it. Commit to doing the next right thing out of love for yourself and others for a lifetime.

Francis C. Kelley said, “Convictions are the mainsprings of action, the driving powers of life. What a man lives are his convictions.” Make love your conviction as your way of living and managing pain. The principle of love over pleasure requires that you free yourself from yourself. When your pursuit of pleasure to manage pain at all costs enslaves you, you suffer from the karmic consequences of your destructive behavior. Put love before pleasure in managing pain. Your recovery will flourish with love as your guide.

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