Written May 30, 2017
If you’ve read many of my posts, you may remember that I am an addict. I’m a gratefully recovering addict. Over the years I’ve been blessed with the passion for helping others to get better from any number of ailments. This passion has lead me to right here, right now. I’ve shifted from being a paid employee in health care system to a volunteer in helping others with drug addiction. I talk to addicts and the people who love us about the effects of addiction, why we think and feel the way we do and what we can do to put that genie into the bottle, so to speak. Why do I do this, let alone for free? Simply put, because I’m tired of hearing and reading the names of addicts who’ve died because of this disease. Especially ones I know personally and perhaps even tried to help. Which is why I have decided to write about it. Because this disease is hitting closer and closer to my heart.
I’ll begin by saying that I am no better and no worse than anyone I meet. My goal is to simply save another life to the best of my ability. This passion has also joined with my relatively new passion of writing. My writing comes amid our communities drug epidemic and one of our nation’s largest crises. As I see the obituaries pile up in our town, I am angered and saddened to my core. I feel as hopeless as my loved ones felt when I was actively using. Instead of acting out, I’ve chosen to use my pen and paper to channel this energy. No, I don’t sugar coat it. This is literally a life and death issue today.
This is a message to addicts all over the world. It’s also a message to the people who still care and maybe even love us. This also doesn’t apply to only drug or alcohol addicts. This also applies to anyone who has a problem with impulsive and obsessive behaviors, especially ones that can be dangerous. My message is simply this…there IS hope and there IS help available no matter where you live.
I figured I’d break this up into 2 parts due to the length. My hope is that if you’ve read this so far that you’ll also read the second part of this when I post it.
As addicts, when we are in the grip of addiction, we try to escape reality. Unfortunately there are some realities we cannot escape. While on the path of addiction, the end of the road always, and I do mean ALWAYS, ends one of 3 ways – jails, institutions, and/or death. And I think we all know that death is permanent. Don’t get me wrong, jails and institutions are also pretty permanent, but at least our family and friends can still talk with us if they chose to. The other sad reality is that roughly 100 addicts die every day – and those are the reported ones. Anytime you’re sitting there getting high, somewhere an addict is dying.
Let’s briefly review the definition of addiction. The short definition of addiction according to American Society of Addiction Medicine(ASAM):
- “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
- Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”
I recently read about a well known Canadian doctor who says this about the cause of addiction:
- “The source of addictions is…in the early childhood environment…that addictions originate in trauma and emotional loss. [this doctor] calls for a compassionate approach toward addiction, whether in ourselves or in others. A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors. It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic. The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden – but it’s there.”
Though there are a great many addicts who started using because of this emotional hurt, not all of us started this way. There are a great many of us who start because of a physical injury and, since many doctors want to relieve our pain, we get prescriptions that can actually harm many of us. However, because of overdoses and/or deaths on the rise and current laws the way they are, doctors are under pressure to write fewer prescriptions for any narcotic. This leads those who have become addicted look elsewhere for pain relief. That “elsewhere is usually on the streets from some drug dealer who may or may not have cut that drug and mixed in another ingredient so they can make more money. Usually that combination of substances is what kills us. The sad reality of that is addicts don’t know and don’t care that what we’ve just bought may be the smoking gun that kills us.
Coming soon…what I’ve learned about addiction and its causes, what addicts do, how we behave, and where the road ends. Plus a little bit of my personal story with addiction.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts