Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
A Letter To The Person Struggling With Addiction
— Dear Those Struggling With Addiction, With 144 people dying from overdose every day, it’s hard to understand why you continue to use and put your life at risk. You probably tell yourself you need it. Drugs and alcohol make you feel better. You might even believe that. However, abusing substance does more than anesthetizing you. It changes the chemical compound of your brain. It harms your organs and the systems in your body such as your throat, stomach, lungs, liver, pancreas, heart and nervous system. It also hijacks your brain. That’s why you can’t quit, even when you want too. If you’re confused by this, it’s because much of what’s happening to you is happening without your understanding. You think addiction is about drugs and alcohol, but it’s much more complicated than that. Abusing substances has altered the area in your brain responsible for reasoning and impulse control. These alterations mean you’re not thinking right. Addiction twists your thoughts so that you focus on all the negatives- leaving you feeling sorry for yourself, or resentful, hateful and ashamed. These emotions allow you to justify your using, which results in feelings of depression and guilt. You promise yourself you’ll quit and then two hours later you’re out getting high again. You think you’re weak-willed and a liar, but you’re not. Your disease overrides your ability to make healthy decisions, it overrides your love for your family and it overrides your will to live. It’s so powerful that it comes first before everything else. It blinds you to reality and doesn’t want you to see how much you are loved. It lies to you in your own voice, and tells you that overdose won’t happen to you- that’s what it told Jim. [lorelie-callout] Jim recently died from an overdose. His celebration of life was last weekend. Only the people there weren’t celebrating, they were crying. In attendance were many of his friends and family. They stood up at the podium, with tears in their eyes and shared fond memories of him. His family spoke of his huge heart and his infectious smile. You could feel their love for him all the way to the back row – that’s where I was sitting. I couldn’t help wishing Jim was there to hear it all. Did Jim ever consider how much he was loved? Did he think about dying that night? Did Jim realize that his last hit, would really be his last? As someone who used to use drugs and alcohol, I doubt Jim thought about dying. Likely, he was thinking of getting high. He had probably been thinking about it all day and eventually, he found the means to score. Jim probably didn’t think about his son as he was getting high. Not because Jim was a bad guy because he wasn’t. Jim was an awesome guy, who will be missed terribly. If Jim thought about his son at all, he likely told himself he’d call him tomorrow. That’s how addiction deludes us and keeps those struggling sick. We tell ourselves we will deal with our responsibilities tomorrow. Only for Jim, tomorrow never came. Now Jim’s son is forced to grow up without him. Jim’s mom can’t stop crying and his dad is walking around with a haunted look on his face. The hell they’re going through is unimaginable. They wonder if Jim’s death was their fault. They will ask themselves “why,” and live with the scars of Jim’s death for the rest of their life. I don’t tell you this so you will feel sorry for Jim. I tell you this because you could be Jim. Nobody wakes up and says, “I’m going to be an addict,” but there is one choice you can make: how long are you going to stay sick? While addiction is not a choice, recovery is. What if instead of dying from an overdose or withering away from addiction, you lived an amazing life filled with love, laughter and good health? The choices you make today will either save your life or eventually, end it. When the most destructive force in your life is you, it’s time to reach out for help. I pray you step up and do the right thing and if you can’t, don’t be angry at the people who step up and try and do it for you. I know you feel hopeless. You might even believe you’re destined to live out your days sick and miserable. But your disease does not have to end your life. It does not have to break up your home or scar your children. There’s no shame in getting well. Please know you are not bad, but you are sick. You probably don’t believe that. You still think it’s you choosing to get high, but it’s not you. You lost that choice a long time ago. I want you to know that you are important, you are worthy, you are loved and you have choices- give up, give in or give it all you got. Addiction is highly treatable. Be a warrior. Reach out for help. Choose recovery and your best years haven’t even happened yet. To start your new life all you have to do is call the number below. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 888-601-8693.