Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
5 Lies I Told In Active Addiction
Addiction is a cunning disease. For most with it, don’t know they have it. Or if they do, they underestimate the damage it creates in their life and the lives of their loved ones. You might wonder how addicted individuals can be so blind. Or why they can’t just stop. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple? But there is nothing simple about this illness. It affects thinking, judgment, impulse control, brain chemistry, emotions and behaviors. It turns good men and women into liars and cheats, on a suicide mission. It is more powerful than love and corrupts the very nature of survival. Addicts and alcoholics across the planet are killing themselves and they’re doing it because the frontal lobe of their brain is damaged. Their ability to think honestly and rationally has been replaced by delusion.
Delusion is different than denial. Denial takes a problem and makes it smaller than it is. Denial has some truth in it. Delusion has none. Delusion says what problem? There’s no problem here. Scarier still, deluded people don’t know they’re lying. They believe they’re telling the truth. Below are five lies I told myself in active addiction.
Lie 1 – I’ll only have one. I lost count of the times I said and thought this. I once pinky swore with my daughter I would only go out for one. I wasn’t lying. I had two hours. I ordered a double and then proceeded to slam another three. I didn’t stop there. For me, drinking went hand in hand with buying drugs. As I tiptoed into our house the next morning, I couldn’t meet my daughters’ eyes. It is heartbreaking to look into the eyes of a child whose life has been affected by addiction. They are old before their years.
Lie 2 – I’m not hurting anyone. How many times have you heard that one? Of course, I was hurting everyone! But I was deluded and sincerely trusted my thinking. When my family pointed out just how I was hurting them, I became angry and defensive. Each time they confronted my illness, it drove a wedge between us. My thinking was so damaged I thought they were trying to control me and ruin my fun. In reality, they were trying to save my life.
Lie 3 – The doctor prescribed it. The first time my doctor prescribed opiates, I’d gone into his office because I’d fallen on the ice and hurt my back. I was expecting to get an x-ray, not a prescription. He instructed me to take one pill every four hours and rest. If things didn’t get better I was to go back and see him. The pills he prescribed helped tremendously. Before long I was eating them like candy. Pretty soon I was back in his office looking for more. After many returns, he wasn’t as eager to write me a script. Thus began the long quest of finding doctors who would prescribe me narcotics when my back acted up. If a doctor was prescribing, it couldn’t be bad. I was just taking my ‘medicine.’ In sobriety, I haven’t had one moment where my back hurt. It turns out my addiction created pain, where there was none.
Lie 4 – It will make me feel better. Using substance diminished my anxiety. It gave me courage and self-esteem. In essence, it made me feel better. But there was a huge cost for the temporary relief I felt. Long term, using made me feel worse, not better. My anxiety increased over the time I abused drugs. My mental health deteriorated to a point where I experienced panic attacks and paranoia. I chased that first high for 20 years. While using did make me feel better, in the beginning, it wasn’t long before better wore off and more became a necessity. Caught in the worst imaginable trap – me against me – I felt cornered, betrayed and hopeless.
Lie 5 – I can stop anytime I want to. Sadly, I believed I could stop. But when I did, another unhealthy behavior took its place. It seemed I wasn’t just addicted to drugs, I was addicted to chaos and drama. I was addicted to self-pity and being a victim. I was addicted to negative thoughts and unhealthy men. I was addicted to living life on the edge and getting away with things. Towards the end, the only time I could stop using substance was if I was sleeping. Even then I was restless. Without chemical assistance in my system, I’d toss and turn. My legs ached and my mind raced. I feared I was dying. The withdrawal was so uncomfortable, I’d ultimately return to using.
If you can relate to any of these lies, you’re not alone. One in seven is in the same boat. I was lucky. My family recognized my delusion. They cared enough to stop enabling me. Out of options, I was forced to seek help. At the time I was furious. What I thought to be my worst day, was really my best. Going to treatment saved my life. It will save yours too. No matter what you’ve done or how you feel, your family needs you. To start your new life, all you have to do is pick up the phone.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 1-888-6142379.