Are you addicted to drugs or alcohol or both? Are you or a family member or friend sliding into full-blown addiction? Perhaps you’re in recovery and are struggling to stay clean and sober?
Do you believe that because a doctor or doctors prescribed your drugs you are safe? Do you believe because you only use over-the-counter drugs that you can’t be an addict?
I interview folks who’ve been there, done that in order to share their experiences and advice with you. The best persons to give this advice are those who know from their direct experience.
Research shows us that addiction is a disease, that there is a genetic predisposition to the disease, that there is no cure, and that recovery is possible and relapse is common. You say, “Why bother?” And I say, “The price of continuing is steep and usually involves your death.”
Let me give a few examples that those in recovery have shared with me as instances of their behavior while under the influence. One injected, that is, shot up her brother, and he died. Another traveled to the location of her deceased mother, an addict who had killed herself by taking a gun to her head. While there, the addict stole two hundred dollars from an aunt’s purse and left the scene to buy drugs and get high.
More stories. As she held out her arms to show me her scars, she told me that in front of other users, she had said, “This is what trash looks like” as she shot drugs into her face. Another lived in an abandoned house in Detroit where there were dirty needles on the floor and for the first time she “hit her knees.” In an accident while under the influence, another’s face was scalped and her eye sockets were loose.
Arrest, incarceration. Arrests, incarceration. Smoking, snorting, shooting. Arrest, incarceration. Delivering their babies under the influence. Losing their babies because of their addictions. Being beaten, raped, and sold. And going back to dope again and again. Dope has a powerful chokehold on addicts.
Some, however, through a variety of strategies do manage to break that chokehold and move to recovery. Here are their words:
A person in recovery for a decade plus indicates the following, “When using, we believe we’re deceiving those around us. We believe that we can continue to use and no one will know. To get in recovery and stay there is to realize that you can’t deceive yourself with this line of thinking. For me, staying in recovery has been about attending many AA meetings- doing something about my addictions, working at fighting my addictions. I don’t expect to get a wealth of knowledge at each meeting. The AA meeting is a place to admit relapses, and admitting them in the meetings is not for others: it’s for you. Again, it’s about honesty with yourself.”
Writing is a powerful tool for healing along with other strategies such as extensive involvement in AA, working the 12 steps and attending AA/NA meetings. An addict in recovery shared her writing with me and says to the addict, “I know your struggles; I feel your pain.”
After many relapses, she writes the following advice to addicts:
“I keep telling myself it’s never too late,
But with the ghost of my past, I can’t levitate;
So don’t keep pushing is my best advice,
And before getting too far, you better think twice.
A syringe is a demon always following me around;
As stupid as that sounds, it’s haunting me now.
The push is the joy, the product of pain,
Addiction’s best weapon is distorting your brain,
But now I’m recovering, and if this sounds right to you,
There’s hope in the world: you can beat it, too.”
Note: Column three on recovery is coming up next, and my hope is to present advice from persons in a Christian-based AA program. I welcome emails and phone calls from persons in recovery.
Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., teaches telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and works with veterans. You may reach her at 937-778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.