Choices

“Humans are powerful creatures. Life is full of choices. We can choose to use our power for the good of mankind, or we can choose to destroy mankind. What will you choose to do with your power?” ~ Me

While this may be directed to young adults, this also applies to everyone -young and old – who is reading this.

Believe it or not, each one of us has a power inside. Even if you think you don’t, trust me, you do. Whether you’re a victim or a warrior, you have a power. You just may not know it yet. No, to my knowledge, none of us has powers like Superman or Wonder Woman, but we are all powerful in our own way. Each one of us also has the ability to choose what to do or not do with our powers.

Right about now, schools are getting ready to close down for the summer and some kids are getting ready to graduate from high school or college. Each one of you has the power of choice. Will you look for a job? Will you continue on for more education? Will you drop out of school? Will you move out of your parents house? Will you marry the one you love? Will you start or continue to use drugs?

I know, I know. I hear the moans and groans. “Who does this old lady think she is? I know what I’m doing. I can handle it. I only use ‘X’ on ‘Y’ days. I’m not going to be an addict.”

Really? Are you that confident?

I remember being in your shoes once upon a time. I was young and dumb, rather I did dumb things. I graduated from high school, hung out with my friends, partied, moved in with the man I thought I loved, barely graduated from college, moved back in with my parents for a few years, yadda, yada. I even thought I was invincible. Come to find out I wasn’t. I had a power inside of me back then. Instead I chose to not to use that power for good or be good like I had planned. However, today I have found my power again. It has changed a little bit but I have chosen to do good with it.

I know I’m not some hip young person who’s even close to your age trying to share my wisdom. No, I don’t know everything you are going through at your age and I’m not going to pretend to. I do remember, though, what it was like to be your age. “Yes! I’m finally free to do whatever I want, whenever I want! I can finally drink. I can text/drink/get high and drive if I want. I won’t get into an accident. I can handle it. I won’t become some dirty drug addict.”

What you don’t understand is that you may get away with any of your bad choices today, but tomorrow may be different. Tomorrow you could do one to many hits/pills/shots/whatever get into a bad accident or worse. You could die. When I say tomorrow, I don’t mean it literally. Tomorrow could be next week, next month, next year or numerous years down the road.

Another thing you may not know is that when an addict chooses to use drugs, there are three, and only three, ways that life will end; jails, institutions or death. I know this. I’ve seen this happen in the lives of people I once loved like brothers and sisters.

Each and every one of you reading this, young and old, have so much potential. Yes, even you, the one who doesn’t believe in themself, you have so much potential too. Don’t waste it by making a choice today that you’ll regret tomorrow. And that goes for the young lady I spoke with a few nights ago.

Thought for the day: Break free from the voices that tell you you’re unworthy – whether their internal or external. Make today the day that you choose to use your power. Choose to live up to your potential.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

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No Matter What

I wanted to share a social media post that moved me. Many of these words kept me clean in some of my darkest hours. Thank you for the reminder April.❤

Here is a poem I wrote using some common recovery slogans/sayings….. Hope y’all like it! 😊❤️

No Matter What
By: April Grisham

6 years & 8 months ago
I went to get help
They all told me
“You can’t do it by yourself”

I was overwhelmed
Wanted to say, “Shove it!”
They told me to calm down
And remember, “Easy does it”

I was told to get a sponsor
And I was like, “Why?”
I thought, “What a joke!”
They said, “Work the Steps or die!”

At first I resisted
All because of fear
I said, “I got this”
They said, “Your best thinking got you here!”

I was pretty offended
But I listened anyway
Worried & scared to death
They said, “Just for today”

I began working the Steps
And started to be healed
They said this is forever
And “More will be revealed”

I began to feel emotions
I felt under attack
They said, “The best & worst thing about recovery”
“Is you get your feelings back”

There were times I wanted to give up
There were times I couldn’t see
I got angry when they told me,
You’re right where you’re supposed to be”

I stayed the course anyway
Recovery seemed so far
I wanted to run away
But they said, “Wherever you go, there you are”

I took all of their suggestions
At times I’d just smile & nod
Then, life showed up
They told me, “Let go and let God”

At 18 months clean
Everything happened so fast
I lost my job & almost lost my brother
They said, “This too shall pass”

I wanted to use so badly
I felt it in my gut
They held my hand & told me,
Don’t use no matter what”

I stayed clean through it all
But I’ve also made mistakes
But I have stayed willing
To do “Whatever it takes”

I have to take suggestions
To avoid being in a hearse
And remember that no matter what
My recovery MUST always come FIRST”

I still keep a gratitude list
I still continue to climb
Sometimes it’s really hard
But I take it “One day at a time”

Things still make me angry
At times I scream & swear
But I calm myself down
Saying “The Serenity Prayer”

I still hit my knees & pray
My brain still has a short circuit
But it’s true when they say,
It works if you work it”

I haven’t relapsed “YET”
I have a lot of haters
Sometimes it’s hard to deal with
But I know “It gets greater later”

Recovery has changed my life
Acceptance is the key”
I’ve learned so much
And gained serenity

I never thought it was possible
I never thought I’d find
A way to stay clean
And gain true “peace of mind”

So, if you think it’s impossible
And you feel under attack
Just know “We Do Recover”
And “Keep Coming Back!”

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Another Life Taken Far To Soon

“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.” ~ Jean Kilbourne

It’s one week shy of the one year anniversary that I got a phone call I didn’t want to get. That day I stopped dead in my tracks because I was shocked and heartbroken. I remember when I heard the news from my friend on the other end of the phone. I instantly went numb. The same thing happened roughly 5 months later when I got a social media message and again last night when I ran into a friend. What was this news you ask?

Another friend died. What’s worse is that they died a senseless death from a drug overdose.

If you’re not an addict, you might be wondering how I could possibly be friends with an addict? Simple. Because I am an addict too, but I am a recovering addict. I knew these 3 beautiful souls when they were at their best and their worst. Each of them did stop using for different lengths of time, but for whatever reason, they chose to start using again. I watched them come into recovery not only physically broke but also spiritually and emotionally broke.

At first, when they came in, you could see the pain in their eyes and hear the desperation in their voices. After they got some time clean, I saw the transformation. They started looking and feeling better. They began to have hopes and dreams again. They became productive members of society again and regained the love and trust that they’d lost from their families. But something happened. It was any number of reasons but it mainly boiled down to one thing.

They couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with their reality which was different for each of them.

I can hear the comments already from non addicts who are not familiar or don’t understand this disease – and yes, it is a disease. It is a mental health disease. I won’t go into the specifics of that today. I have written numerous pieces over the last year and a half and encourage you to read them. Pieces like “Who Is An Addict?”, “Reality of Addiction”, “A Demon Named ‘Addiction’”, “Addiction-Disease or Moral Failing?”, “Break the Stigma”, “The Demon” and many others. I write this today for another reason.

My hope and purpose today is to reach out and touch the life of just one addict with my words.

To any addict who may be reading my words, wherever you may be in the world, especially the addict in pain right now. Whether you have less than 24 hours clean or you have 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 1 decade or longer clean. Whether you are an old timer, newcomer, relapser, or the one contemplating a relapse this message is for each of you.

“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” ~ Sherman Alexie

I know your pain. I have lived it and I am still living it but I am still clean. I don’t care what your pain is, I understand it. Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Yea right lady. How can you/You can’t possibly understand what I’m going thru? You’re not going thru what I’m going thru.” Ah, but I do.

I’ve been in recovery for a few 24 hours now. I’ve done research on the internet and talked to numerous professionals and other addicts in that time. I’ve also done something for a while now that’s helped me not only with my personal research but it’s also helped me stay clean. When someone who’s relapsed comes back into recovery I ask them, “Why did you relapse?” The answers I’ve gotten back have varied but there’s one common denominator. Reality. You don’t want, can’t, or know how to deal with whatever your reality is.

Pick a reason, any reason; this person died, your kids are making you crazy, you can’t deal with your spouse or kids clean, that person looked at you wrong, this person said something to you, that person pissed in your Cheerios, the sun is out, it’s raining, it’s snowing, it’s to hot, it’s to cold…or maybe it’s something I neglected to mention.

“But my situation is unique.” Really? Allow me to tell you what I’ve been thru and still stayed clean.

Since I’ve been in recovery, I have been thru a divorce and another relationship after that. I’ve been thru deaths of family, friends, loved ones and addicts I considered family. When my dad fell ill and was in the hospital, I had to tell my mother and sister that I agreed with the doctor when he advised pulling the plug on him. I had to force my mom into a nursing home and lost my blood family because of it. I’ve had financial problems, no food in the house. I’ve been gossiped about and stabbed in the back. I’ve argued with more people than I can count, and currently I am dealing with a potentially progressive illness almost as serious as addiction.

And that’s just a snapshot of what I’ve dealt with over the last six years. Have I thought about using? Of course. Do I have an excuse to go back to using? Sure I do, but not a darn one of those excuses is a good enough reason.

Since i got clean I’ve also been able to pay off my car and buy my own home. They’re both mine. I don’t have to worry about being evicted because of divorce or family problems. I have a part time job and I finally have peace of mind. Yes I still worry about having money to live, but my drama and chaos is behind me. Best of all I still have family – a group of friends who will and have dropped everything to help me when I needed it most. Right now I can say life is good. Tomorrow may be different but for right now I am in control of my life. Plus, I’ve discovered new passions and a purpose for life.

Best of all I don’t worry about my next high or how I’ll pay for it. I don’t have to worry about being dope sick.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. Being in recovery isn’t going to be easy. It’s not for the faint of heart? Some days will be damn hard. There are numerous ways to get and stay clean. Some of those ways are difficult and someone are easy. I’ve learned from other addicts that the easy way is a surefire way to not succeed. For an addict to stay clean we need tough love, not enabling, coddling or condemnation.

Most of all, we need the fortitude to commit to a new and better way of living.

I want you to know something that you may not know about yourself. You are important, deserving, loveable, intelligent, worthy, beautiful, brave, strong, powerful, resilient, fearless, talented, fierce, funny, loved, needed, alive for a reason and so much more than this list. You CAN do this.

Please, seek out recovery before your loved ones and friends bury you.

“Wait for me.” The words come out choked and pained. “I need you to wait for me.” ~ Krista Ritchie

…There’s no more time to wait. The time is now to live the life you were meant to live.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts.

Zombies

Have you ever watched any of those tv shows or movies about a zombie apocalypse? That’s kinda how our world is becoming with this disease called addiction. If you’re not familiar with either zombies or drug addiction allow me explain.

After watching a tv show about zombies, I realized that addicts are similar to zombies. We are infected with a disease. Yes I said disease. It’s a disease of the brain. This disease affects our rational thoughts, our impulses and our judgement. It makes us obsessed and we do impulsive things to feed that hunger, to get that next fix. We do things we normally wouldn’t do when we’re not using just like zombies do.

When you look into the eye of a zombie, or an addict, many people see a monster. A dead, soulless, monster. We’re still alive but we are brain dead, numb and many of us are spiritually dead. Our mind is fixated on one thing, and one thing only. Our next high. Many of us go crazy just to feed the monster within us. We are trying to chase that first high that we had when we started using but we cannot catch it. What you don’t understand is that we, those walking dead, are real people. We are all someone to somebody.

We are your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, etc. We all have someone who loves us. We are your entertainment role models.

According to Hollywood, the only way to kill a zombie is a bullet to the head. They can never be saved or cured. However, unlike zombies, there is treatment for addiction. We can be saved, not cured, but our disease can be put into a remission of sorts. The problem is that we have to want it. We are not bad people who deserve a bullet in the head. We are sick people who need help.

Currently, addiction has touched everyone’s life in some way. Just about everyone either is an addict or knows an addict. The people who aren’t zombies – our families, friends and loved ones – want to help, want to save us, but there’s nothing they can do. They need to protect themselves so that they don’t become infected, rather sucked into our madness, or worse. They become addicted to drugs, themselves.

You may be wondering why addicts don’t get the help they need. Quite often we won’t get help because of the stigma. We hear things like, “You just choose to use/get high. Why don’t you just stop? Addicts are only poor uneducated people.” Statements like these are just a couple of reasons. Maybe we said them ourselves before we became addicted. We also tell ourselves that we don’t have a problem, that we can handle it and we can still make it to work.

Truth be told, we may be able to make it to work today, but eventually we won’t. Our performance will decline, then we’ll call in sick frequently. Ultimately we’ll stop going to work altogether.

When we think of an addict, we think of a dirty homeless person with a needle in their arm, a brown bag in hand, or a gangster slinging dope on the street or a sleazy dressed woman walking the streets looking to score. Truth is an addict can look like anyone we know. They can be a lawyer, a nurse, a police officer, an actor/actress, an athlete, or a store clerk. They can be your partner, your sibling, your parent, your cousin, or your grandparent. They can be rich, poor or somewhere in between.

My name is Anonymous and I’m a grateful recovering addict. It took me sometime to be able to say that I am an addict, let alone mean it. It took me even longer to accept it. I was one of those soulless monsters walking among the dead. I’ll bet if you saw me you wouldn’t think I was an addict. I don’t fit that picture I just painted of addicts in the first sentence in the above paragraph. Why am I grateful to be an addict? Read keep reading to find out.

My name is Anonymous because I am you and you are me. Plus my program has taught me about anonymity. Being anonymous means that I have no known name, identity or known source. I am nameless, unidentified and I am lacking marked individuality. I’m not white, black or brown. I’m not a Christian, Muslim, Jehovah witness or an atheist. I’m neither rich or poor. I am no better or worse than you.

My life as an addict was different from other addicts but one thing remains the same. You and I used for the same reasons. We wanted to feel something different, to not feel anything, to escape reality, or…well, I think you get the point.

Like I said, there’s a bit of you in me and a bit of me in you. All addicts, as you may see, have different details of the same story. Maybe any or all of these apply to you; you grew up in a drug or alcohol addicted family, you were abused at some point in your life or were raped, you began using because you wanted to to be cool, or whatever. We are the same because we used to change the way we felt.

If you’re an addict like me, give yourself a break. Maybe my story you will give you a message of hope that you can get and stay clean like millions of other addicts have. Don’t compare your story to mine because each addict has their own story. However, identify with me because we all used for the same reasons – to cover up our feelings or to escape reality.

If you’re a family member, friend or loved one, give yourself a break too. Maybe after reading this you’ll see some of the feelings and crazy thoughts that go thru an addict’s mind

***Please be sure to read more of my posts.

A Message From Your Loved Ones

I’ve been blessed with somewhat of a unique gift. I have the ability to put myself in another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. There are times tho, when it’s more of a curse than a blessing. I say this because of my own feelings after all 3 of my relapses. Just being around and talking to my own family members and friends, I can feel their true feelings about me – sometimes without anyone even saying a word. Those feelings are solidified in the conversations I have with family and friends of other addicts like me.

Today I decided to tell you how your family and loved ones feel when you’re conning, manipulating, rationalizing, justifying, using, stealing, lying, going to jail, overdosing and nearly dying. I may not hit on all of those things in this post but I’m sure you’ll get what I’m saying. But first, please read the following. It is a lead in before you pull up the article from a social media page called “Heroin Stop the Silence Start the Conversation”. I encourage you to follow the links to those articles and read them.

“**More than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses since the late 1990s, nearly as many as claimed by leukemia. (WSJ, below). 

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 55,403 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.(from the American Society of Addiction Medicine http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf ). 

Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. (from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html )

In a span of about 20 years 300,000 addicts have died. The number of addicts who die has been slowly but steadily increasing each year since the 1990’s. In 2015, 55,400 have died alone. That’s a staggering 152 overdose deaths PER DAY!! Don’t believe me? Consider the number of friends you had 10, 5 even 1 year ago. How many of them are still alive? How many times do you read or hear of someone dying from an overdose? How many funerals have you been to where the person died from an overdose? How many musicians or actors have died last year alone from an overdose or other addiction related causes?

Now that the facts are out of the way, let’s take a look at how the ones closest to you feel. Here are some things you may or may not hear but our families and loved ones say…

“How can you do this to yourself and your family? Don’t you realize what you are doing to us and to yourself? You had everything going for you and you threw it away for that “stuff”. I didn’t raise you to be a lying, conning, manipulating, justifying, rationalizing, self centered, self seeking person. Where did I go wrong while you were growing up to make you treat me this way? Was it something I said or did? Why don’t you just stop using? It was your choice to start using, so choose to stop. Was I not a good enough parent/friend/lover/spouse?  I love you with all my heart and soul, but I have to distance myself from you right now because I don’t know if 1) you’re going to die or 2) you’re going to steal from me again.”

Reread that last sentence. “I love you with all my heart and soul, but…”. Do you see that in your loved ones or have you heard it? Have you seen the pain in the faces of family and friends?

Look, if you’ve read my blog, you know I’m an addict. I’m a recovering addict who knows how your loved ones feel. I’ve heard it from my own loved ones as well as your loved ones. I’ve heard the pleas to get clean, the anger that comes from the hurt and the cries as they watch you kill yourself slowly day by day. I’m not saying I’m a know-it-all because I don’t’ know everything. What I do know is all the feelings that are involved with addiction – both the addict and the ones who love us. But there is hope for us…if we choose to be that hope shot.

I first got clean in a rehab. There I met some amazing people who helped me to love myself again. Yes, I relapsed 3 times after that and almost died 1 of those times. Those amazing people still welcomed me back, some with open arms and gratitude that I was back alive and some people with a tough love stanz. They have continued to love and support me thru some very, very trying times in my life. I freely, yet humbly and gratefully, share what was given to me with other addicts…just as I am with you as you read this.

If and when you do decide to get clean, because no one can make you do it, I assure you that life gets better. Yes, life will throw curve balls and the “stuff” fairy drops in once in awhile, but I’m living proof that as long as you stay clean you will get thru it. There are others who can identify with you and your feelings. They can tell you, as I can, what’s worked for them.

No, not all of your relationships will get better today, tomorrow, next month or next year. Some relationships never get better, and that’s ok. You’re not alone. I’ve lost a couple of my loved ones because of the demon that sleeps inside of me. On the other hand I have others in my life that I consider my family – both addicts and non-addicts. They keep me going on those days I need it – even when I don’t want their help.

Thought for the day: Now that we’re turning the page on a new year, why not give yourself the gift of freedom, freedom from the demon inside you. Why not work on you so you don’t end up another statistic like I mentioned at the beginning of this post? What have you got to lose?

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

“There’s A Pill For That”

Welcome to the future where there’s a pill for everything under the sun and another pill or 2(or 4) for the side effects. 

If anyone has been to a doctor you know what I’m talking about. For example, I was having a problem with my blood pressure and instead of exploring the reason for it, my doctor gave me a prescription. When I mentioned side effects, my doctor told me he could give me another pill for that too. I said no thank you, took the first prescription and left.

While reading thru the news of the day recently, I read an article regarding this new “Super Power” pill. I’ve pieced together some of the more interesting, rather glaring highlights that I fear will contribute to the problem that’s got this country by the short hairs. I also changed the name of this medication because I don’t want to advertise it. See if you can spot my concern with the pill.

“Medication Q, which has no recorded side effects…,was soon the target of critics who claimed it was too powerful to be sold without a prescription. Other people…insisted that Medication Q provided an artificial edge for its users and was unfair to those who weren’t taking it.”

The authors of the article decided to test it themselves to see what the hype was all about. This is the report from the person who tested it.

“Week 1 – About 30 minutes after taking my first pill, I felt the effects kick in…a pleasant wave of calmness washed over my entire body…The mental fog and stress…vanished instantly…I reached a level of alertness and concentration I’d never experienced before…It became easy for me to ignore distractions and outside noises.

“Week Two – I was a bit concerned that Medication Q would stop working for me after one week. Not so. I am feeling even more focused and energized than before…I was focused and determined to finish all tasks for the day.

“Week Three – The effects of Medication Q are still with me… [it] has me laser-focused on the job at hand, and I am suddenly able to get things done… I noticed…I was hardly ever stressed, and I was able to control my emotions…I expected to run out of steam around the third week due to my body getting used [it].. But my energy levels…remain steady throughout the day.

“Week Four – I was given the nickname “Superman” at the office, as I’ve become most productive member of the staff…It’s unbelievable how much [it] has changed in just 4 short weeks…it’s definitely improved my memory and the speed at which I process new information.

“In conclusion: Over the past 4 weeks, I found myself bouncing out of bed, sometimes even before my alarm went off because I couldn’t wait to take Medication Q. Things that used to annoy me were no longer an issue. I hardly got stressed and when I did, I was able to control my emotions…One thing I didn’t expect was the euphoric feeling I got while doing work on Medication Q. As a result, I’ve enjoyed my work so much more and my mood has greatly improved. In fact, my co-workers keep making fun of me for walking around with a permanent grin on my face.

“…Don’t just take my word for it though; this is something you need to experience for yourself.”

Can you see the problem I have with this article about this “wonder drug”? Allow me to point out key phrases: “too powerful to be sold without a prescription”, “a pleasant wave of calmness that washed over my entire body”, “I was hardly ever stressed, and I was able to control my emotions”. I’m sure you can pick out the other praises for this drug. Let me also point out that this medication, like many others, was originally created to aid elderly patients with another ailment. This article concerns itself with an “alternate use”.

So why am I concerned and what epidemic am I referring to? The answer is simple, drug addiction. “How can you draw such a conclusion about such a wonderful drug?” I can because as a drug addict, this would’ve been my pitch for my drug of choice.

Wait a minute, doesn’t it also sound like a Big Pharma representative pitch too? Isn’t that similar to what they have told doctors for years to get them to give pain pills to their patients? Yes, actually, it is. Add to that the kickback the doctors got, the lack of education on the effect of these medications or addiction in general, a perfect storm was created. The result, tens of thousands(if not millions) of people with no prior history of it have been turned into addicts. This pill, I fear, will create the same problem or at least exacerbate the current epidemic.

I know we all get a little tired from time to time and we would like to be a bit smarter. Heck, I know I do, but at what cost? As one of those people who didn’t think I had a problem with addiction I can tell you this, if I took this drug and actually felt like the way it was reported, I would no doubt get hooked on and abuse this pill. Before I know it, taking one pill twice a day wouldn’t be enough. No, this writer who has celebrated a few 24hrs clean doesn’t see this as a life enhancer but rather an eventual life destroyer. One only needs to look at the history of addiction to see the eventual outcome if this medication is prescribed and dispensed like aspirin is.

Thought for the day: Someone close to me said that happiness comes in a bottle. While this may be true on some level, true happiness comes from within.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Addicts and Holidays(Sequel to The Realities of Addiction)

“There will be times, however, when we really feel like using. We want to run, and we feel lousy. We need to be reminded of where we came from and that it will be worse this time.” ~ Anonymous

“One of the biggest stumbling blocks to recovery seems to be placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves or others. Relationships can be a terribly painful area. We tend to fantasize and project what will happen. We get angry and resentful if our fantasies are not fulfilled. We forget that we are powerless over other people.” ~ Anonymous

(I apologize in advance for the length. This was to important to break up in 2 parts.)

It’s that time of the year again. Time for celebration, giving thanks and spending time with our families. But for those of us with the disease of addiction, this time of year can be very difficult. I know this because I’m a gratefully recovering addict who has had a hard time with the holidays for a couple of years now. The family(by blood and by marriage) that I once enjoyed was lost in part because of my addiction. So, does this give me an excuse to use? My answer for that in a moment.

The disease of addiction is a thinking and feeling disease, more so feeling. The thinking part is when we are conning, manipulating, rationalizing and justifying our ways and means to get and use more. The feelings side of it is a little messier. Let’s face it, feelings are messy for all of us but I think for addicts it’s messier. Why? Because one bad feeling can trigger an addict with 1 day, 1 month, 10 years or more to use again.

If an addict who has some clean comes to me and says they feel like using or someone who has relapsed comes back into recovery or I like to ask them why they want to use or relapsed. Not because I’m nosey but because sometimes when we hear our own voices say the words why we want to use or started using again,we sometimes see just how silly our reasons are. It also reminds me of what not to do. I can’t tell you how many times that I hear “I want to use(or used) because this person said this. That person did this.” I hear every excuse under the sun except “The dog ate my homework”. As amusing as that statement sounds, it’s another reality of this disease.

If you’re not an addict you’re probably thinking, “I feel the same way but I don’t go and get high.” While this is true, I’ll bet you probably do something else to take away or ease the sting of bad feelings. Maybe you buy yourself a treat whether it’s some bobble or trinket at the store or it’s some sweet treat from the bakery. Maybe you take a hot bath or go for a run/walk. We all do something to take away or ease pain that we don’t want to feel. I’ll be the first to admit, brownies from a local store is comfort food to me. But I digress. The point is that no one wants to feel pain and sadness but addicts need to find another outlet other than the thing that kills us daily.

We all have memories of the holidays when we were young. Many of us had dinners with their families, some with both sides of the family. But when we have been addicts for so long or relapsed so many times, our families need to protect their hearts. This is because it’s to painful to watch us kill ourselves one pill, one hit, one shot at a time. Most of the time they don’t hate us. Quite the contrary. They hate what we are doing to ourselves. I want you to try something for just a moment. Put yourself in your family or loved ones shoes. How would you feel if you were your mom, dad, spouse/partner or child watching them do the things go you do? I’m guessing you wouldn’t be feeling to good.

Ok, so, I’ve gone over the very basics of how everyone feels this time of the year, especially when addiction is involved. So what should you, a fellow addict, do to prevent using this time of year? The first thing is to make a commitment to yourself that you won’t use. Be sure you’re doing it for yourself. Doing it for anyone else just sets you up for a relapse because people fail us. It’s  inevitable. If you’re staying clean for mom, dad, partner etc and that person fails you in any way, it’ll end up being your excuse to use. I know because I and many others have done that and it didn’t work so well.

Perhaps one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to find and get involved in a self help group. Preferably one where there are other addicts like yourself. I have learned that, “The  ultimate weapon for recovery is the recovering addict.” That simply means that since addicts understand how and why we use, we can help each other stay clean. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called on my fellow addicts to help me not use for that hour or that day. Whether it was my divorce, my sick mother, or a battle with another family member, my fellow addicts have helped me thru each struggle. And I’ve been there for many of them.

Another thing that is a tremendous help is faith in a Power Greater than yourself. I’m not saying a belief in God, Buddha, Allah or any other specific Power. When I first came into recovery, I had a hard time with God because, I thought He abandoned me. I know now this isn’t true but to help me with a Higher Power, one of my predecessors told me a couple of acronyms for God. One of them is Group Of Druggies and the other is Good Orderly Direction.

In my days of rehab, I remember the counselors told me about finding a Higher Power. They told me that a chair or a light bulb could be my Higher Power. While I appreciated their suggestions I questioned how a chair or light bulb would help me stay clean. Oh sure a chair could block my path but I can move it. A Group Of Druggies is my ultimate weapon. If I really want to go use, another addict could talk to me and get me thru that urge to use. Good Orderly Direction refers to Spiritual Principles like Tolerance, Acceptance, Patience, and Brotherly Love to name a couple. If I am trying to live a new life, these Spiritual Principles can guide me thru almost everything.

Another thing that helps me is to play the tape thru. So many times we act on impulse for that instant gratification. We don’t think thru how our actions will affect us or those around us. We know that using will temporarily relieve what ails us but we forget that when we come down from our high that our problems are usually much worse.

Whenever I feel like running away, I remind myself of what would most likely happen. I’d be hanging with an old playmate at an old playground. Next thing you know someone would come around with something that I’d wanna try. Before I know it, I won’t be able to afford my drug of choice so I’d use something different, then in a different form. And when I couldn’t pay for it, I’d be doing things that would make me feel so horrible about myself that I’d purposely overdose and die. I know how I think, so I know how it would go down.

Another thing we don’t understand when we’re deep into addiction is that there’s more to life. We think we’ll be some dead beat junky and nothing good will ever happen to us. Or we think if we stop using life will never be fun anymore. I can’t tell you how wrong you are. I thought that way until I got my head out of my…well, you know. Let me tell you from my own experience that there is much more to life once I stopped using. Here’s a good question for you. Are you happy with how things are in your life when you’re using?

Since I’ve been in recovery, I have been thru a divorce and another relationship after that. I’ve been thru deaths of family, friends, loved ones and addicts I considered family. When my dad fell ill and was in the hospital, I had to tell my mother and sister that I agreed with the doctor when he advised pulling the plug on him. I had to force my mom into a nursing home and lost my blood family because of it. I’ve had financial problems and no food in the house. I’ve been gossiped about and stabbed in the back. And that’s just a snapshot of what I’ve dealt with over the last six years.

As of today, I’ve been able to pay off my car and buy my own home. Yes my car is 8 years old and my home is a fixer upper but they’re both mine. I don’t have to worry about being evicted because of divorce or family problems. I have a part time job and I finally have peace of mind. Yes I still worry about having money to live, but much of my drama and chaos is behind me. Best of all I still have family – a group of friends who will and have dropped everything to help me when I needed it. I also have a best friend who stuck by me thru addiction and all 3 relapses and is there for me when I don’t need her. Right now I can say life is good. Tomorrow may be different but for right now I am in control of my life. I don’t worry about my next high or how I’ll pay for it. Today I know that hard times and bad moments eventually pass.

No, not every day has been difficult nor is it a bowl of cherries. I’ve had times I wanted to say “forget it” and gone back out. But those trying times have taught me many lessons that have given way to lots of blessings for which I am SO grateful. So, to answer my earlier question. Do I have an excuse to use because I won’t be seeing or even hearing from my blood family this Christmas? I sure do, but not a single one of those excuses I have is a good one.

Thought for the day: Despite everything you know about the life of addiction, there is a better way to live. Millions of other addicts like me have found a new way to live. If we can do it, so can you. We believe in you.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts