Addiction is a very scary thing. The first time I tried alcohol/drugs the euphoric effect was so POWERFUL I spent the next two decades chasing it. It was such a huge relief not to be me for that short period. When your skin doesn’t fit, when you don’t fit, when you stand on the edge of a crowd observing and yearning for connection but you don’t feel it inside, and then suddenly you do, you will try to recreate that experience every time you use.
Each time I got high the chemical receptors in my brain changed. Drugs of abuse manipulate brain chemistry to seek substance at the expense of health, relationship, and finances. Over time, my tolerance grew, and I needed more to get the same feelings of pleasure.
Eventually, I lost the ability to think logically. My brain screamed get dope or die! In other words, I became a puppet to the disease of addiction. The day I entered treatment I thought my life was over, when in fact… It had just begun.
Struggle with Addiction
If you struggle with addiction or love someone who does, don’t give up. There is much you need to know.
Addiction is not a moral failing or weakness but a brain disease that rewires the cerebral cortex resulting in poor impulse control and reasoning.
You did what many kids your age do – experiment with drugs and alcohol. You didn’t know you were prone to addiction, or that your brain was vulnerable and would respond differently than your non-addicted friends.
You lit up a joint and changed your destiny. Your friends got a little buzzed, had a few laughs and went home. You, on the other hand, felt electric. Instead of getting sleepy, you were on fire. Life seemed more interesting when you were high, you felt confident, the world made sense, and you couldn’t wait to get high again. Suddenly, school, friends, and family took a back seat.
Now instead of having fun, getting high is necessary. Without substance in your system, you feel sick, weak, and miserable. To make matters worse, it seems every time you pick up there’s another tragic ending. You can’t use anymore without them. Still, you try. You come up with the plan. The one that’s going to make things different this time. Your plan usually looks like: moving, changing jobs or relationships or trying to control your consumption. However, no matter your good intentions things go from bad to worse as you and your family continue to spiral downwards.
Quitting is an Option
You’ve tried to quit. You don’t’ like hurting your family. But sober, you can’t shake that uptight, miserable feeling.
Here you are, at a fork in the road. You can’t predict what will happen the next time you use. You might come home; you might not. You might spend all your money; you might not. You might get drugs laced with fentanyl; you might not. You know you need to do something about your problem, but you don’t want to do it.
I was too.
Abusing substance has become part of you. It helps you get out of bed in the morning and go to sleep at night. It’s with you through every single thing you do. When you feel bad, it promises relief. When you’re upset, it takes away your pain. When you’re lonely, it comforts you. It’s your confidant and best friend. And now, it’s trying to kill you.
For those who don’t understand what it’s like to be addicted, imagine an assassin living in your head. It’s like that. Your best thinking is killing you. Addiction lies to you in your own voice. Ultimately, it steals your soul.
You Can Get Help
Long before I went to Edgewood treatment centre in Nanaimo B.C, I needed help. Of course, I didn’t believe that then. Had I got help earlier, I wouldn’t have lost my home, my kids, my health and my family. Thankfully, with the aid of family programs like Insight and Bounce Back, we are all thriving today.
Nobody wakes up and says I’m going to be an addict. But there is one choice addicted persons make, and that’s how long they will stay sick. While addiction is not a choice, recovery is.
Luckily, there is much you can do to fight back. Start by admitting defeat. The more you try and control your addiction, the more it controls you.
Instead, stand and deal.
Pray for strength to cope with what comes before you.
And do the one thing addiction hates.
Reach out and ask for help.
Lorelie Rozzano is an internationally recognized author and advocate. She’s in long-term recovery and works in the field of addiction helping patients and their families regain their health.