I was addicted to drugs for more than ten years, and now I have been clean for almost that long. These days, my life is entirely different to what it used to be when I was actively addicted. However I still think of myself as your regular recovered drug addict. Hearing what I have to say about addiction may be of little or no help to you if you are a drug and/or alcohol addict. But this is more for those of you who know and love an addict. I hope that it sheds some light on what they are going through, and you know that you are not alone.
1. Taking Drugs Was Not The Problem. It Was How I Tried To Solve Them.
I did not get high on drugs to become a high version of myself. I did it because I wanted to become someone else. I had wanted to be someone else since I was a kid. I would absorb myself in books, looking for an escape. As I got older, I did not like who I was becoming. When I reached my adult years, I realised I have a compulsive personality, whether it is smoking, eating or drugs. It was almost as if I believed that doing enough of something else would turn me into someone else, and drugs were an express pass.
Finding drugs was easy while I was in university. In fact, friends used to just show up with them. I remember when a friend visited with a bag of cocaine. He racked up little white lines and handed me a rolled up note. I snorted one and experienced a rush that was started off painful but ultimately made me feel like someone I wanted to be. While other drugs could get me high as well, there was something about this one that made me feel like a different person.
2. Ticking Off Life Goals Did Not Work For Me, Which Is Why I Did Not Mind Giving Them Up For Drugs
Drugs were not my only focus in life, but they were undoubtedly in first place. I made decisions that supported my addiction by choosing classes that I knew I would pass and working jobs that I could do while high or coming down. I even found a partner who liked to get high too. I was ticking off the list. Home, check. Car, check. And so it continued.
Then drugs tightened their grip on me. One by one the list unchecked itself, starting with my girlfriend. I started using drugs more frequently and even did it while I was working. Then I stopped working and did drugs instead. After years of regular and increasing drug use, my life was a juggling act between drugs and the potential of who it could make me versus everything else. Eventually, drugs were the only thing I knew for certain.
3. Being An Addict Was Not All Bad
Life as an addict was full of horrible and scary experiences, but there were times when I would reach the ‘right’ high, and everything just felt beautiful. During these better times, I would feel euphoric and hopeful. I would hallucinate and come up with all sorts of stories and characters, to the point where it all made sense. These hallucinations and delusional thoughts spoke to my fears and laughed at them in the face. They sometimes made me feel like someone I had never felt like before: a hero.
4. The Undesirable Became My Standard
When it comes to drugs, what you think will or should never happen becomes routine, though you do not actually think about it thanks to the drugs. I stole from my family to get enough money for another score. I tried doing it again, but the police came. Lucky for me, I had a bargaining chip with the FBI. But they just turned out to be more hallucinations.
I went from a night in a cell to a mental institution to jail. In only a few years, I had more interactions with the law than I can count on both hands, and they were not parking tickets. But every time one of these incidents happened, I felt like it was part of the routine that I had to go through for the drugs.
5. I Had To Admit That Quitting Drugs Would Not Make My Problems Disappear
The pressure eventually got to me, and I wanted to try to get clean, so I entered rehab. I finished rehab and got a job and an apartment. Fast forward two months and I was back at my dealer’s door, cash in hand. In just a few months I was a regular drug addict yet again, but this time I was living in a homeless shelter. I would return to the thought that life would be okay if I just stopped doing drugs, even though I knew deep down that that was not the case. In fact, life would be even worse for a while.
I bounced between getting clean and getting high until I started to embrace spirituality. It has been years, but I still consider myself a beginner. I want to keep becoming more grateful, compassionate and respectful, and it is something I practice every day. I do not quite know what is next and life is still confusing, but I am letting the universe guide me.
6. Loved Ones Could Not Help My Addiction
Even though spirituality helped me, it will not help every addict. What I am certain of is that the loved ones who wanted to help me did not know what they were facing. To them, it made sense that giving up drugs would solve my problems. When I finally admitted I needed help, I did not turn to my family and friends. The only people who could help me were the ones who had also been in my position. They were, and are, the group of people who I can genuinely connect with.
Maybe it is the same for the person you love. For what is worth, try to understand that the best help for many addicts cannot come from you. It might take someone who has gone through it themselves to relate and help. They can be there for you and the person you love. They will also help in any way they can. At the end of the day, they are not the same people they use to be.
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If you or your loved one is facing a problem with addiction, today is the day to start getting help. Contact us today to receive a no-obligation assessment to find out how we can help. You can also call us on one of our toll-free numbers.