Compound interest is a banking term that arises when interest is added to the principal of a deposit or loan, so that, from that moment on, the interest that has been added also earns interest. This addition of interest to the principal is called compounding. A bank account, for example, may have its interest compounded every year: in this case, an account with $1000 initial principal and 20% interest per year would have a balance of $1200 at the end of the first year, $1440 at the end of the second year, and so on. Compound interest was once regarded as the worst kind of usury, and was severely condemned by Roman law, as well as the common laws of many other countries. In one passage, the Bible addresses the charging of interest in the following manner: “Take no usury or interest from him; nor lend him your food at a profit” — Leviticus 25:36-37. The same concept is true in addiction and recovery.

For example…
A sex addict cruises a neighborhood known for street activity in the sex trade, our guy “Joe”, how pedestrian of me, after countless hours of driving finally stops to talk to his chosen lady of the night. They do their verbal dance and then she hops into his car. Once at a secluded spot she takes out a gun and rips him off. Grateful that he has gotten away with his life he quickly leaves the area knowing full well that he can’t report this armed robbery to the police. The fear of having had a gun stuck in his face, and the loss of the money, are compounded by the sad fact that he didn’t even get his fix. He strangely equates this latest episode to the cost of doing business. And now comes the compound interest. Ten days later he gets a call from the local police department. They want him to come down to the station for a chat, they do not reveal much over the phone, he goes immediately into fear mode hoping that his wife doesn’t find out and that his life does not unravel before his eyes, it’s a familiar feeling. When he arrives they inform him that his car license plate was turned into them by a neighborhood watch group, woops. And there’s more, it seems that the gun toting street walker shot another “John” later that night and they want our man to testify. This is just the beginning of his world coming undone. Shit rolls downhill. Now that’s what I call compound interest! It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Recovery compound interest works in an inverse way, life gets exponentially better as sobriety goes on.

This past Sunday, No More Secrets (NMS) had our 9th annual BBQ/Softball picnic at a local park. Between noon and 6pm we had 94 people show up. It was richly rewarding just to sit there and marvel at the width and breadth of our community. We had five men there who were at our very first picnic nine years ago who came back for another installment of NMS family, friends and fun. In total we had 20 alumni men there. Along with them there were seven wives and 16 children ranging in age from 3 to 26.  We had 16 current NMS men, seven of whom were coupled and in attendance with their spouses and their nine children. We also had a single man there with his two children at the event.

Like at all of our events I got to play the role of facilitator, introducing current and past members to each other and assisting the comfortability and intimacy factor. The common thread to everyone is NMS, the common thread is a desire to stop a behavior[s] that is guaranteed to kill and destroy everything valuable in a person’s life. The common thread is a better life. We do normal things to practice normal.

Many of the kids tried badminton, volleyball and softball for the very first time ever. One little girl was even playing softball in her tutu! Now how precious is that! We had kosher hot dogs and freshly cooked pork, a ton of side dishes and fresh fruit, something for everyone. The event was self-generated and did I mention no alcohol.

smashedNow that’s recovery compound interest and it just keeps getting better. Two days later on Tuesday night we had our 50th NMS movie night, pot luck and fellowship. Twenty five men came back keeping the energy of the picnic alive. I showed a powerful 2012 movie entitled Smashed about the downward spiraling of a late twenties married school teacher. Her addiction to both alcohol and her husband leads her to lose her job and her self-respect, compound interest for sure. She ends up in Alcoholics Anonymous trying to figure life out and not die all at the same time. As we all took turns sharing our insights I am always amazed at what a collected group of sex and love addict men can see and how it all always fits into their lives.

Powerlessness and unmanageability is the price of admission. A new peace and freedom is the compound interest. What a deal for those who choose life!