Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Drugs Were My Problem And My Solution.
September Is National Recovery Month. Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is essential to change. Prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover. Recovering addicted persons all over North America will gather in their communities to celebrate Recovery Month by sharing their experience, strength and hope. Recovery Month aims to break the stigma and secrecy surrounding addiction. Recovery Month falls on the heels of International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). After attending an IOAD event on August 31, I am upping my efforts in speaking out against addiction. The reason is this; too many people are dying! In attendance were many folks whose lives had been affected by this disease. Some of them were recovering addicts and some were just people off the street who were curious about addiction. One young man dancing in the corner to music only he could hear, was clearly high. There were concerned friends and family members of addicted persons and then there were these folks… The grieving parents with their children’s face in a picture frame beside them. One woman had recently lost her son. She said, “I am hollow and empty. I can’t think straight. I can’t sleep most nights but when I do, I hear him calling me. ‘Mom, mom!’ Then, I wake up sobbing. I have moments where his death hits me so hard it sends me reeling and I want to throw up. I told my son he better not die because I can’t live without him. But he did die and now a huge part of me has died too.” I’m told you can’t feel other people’s emotions. But walking away from her, I came close. Her grief was stunning, enormous and suffocating, all at the same time. I can’t imagine being in her shoes. I pray to God I never am. But that’s the thing with addiction. No addicted person ever believes overdose will happen to them. Until it does. When an overdose is fatal, the deceased person doesn’t know they’re gone. While they slumber in eternal peace, their family is left living in hell. Going forward, there will be a huge gaping hole that only they could fill. As a person who was active in addiction, I didn’t think much about overdosing. I was too consumed with finding and getting drugs. I feared getting clean. I couldn’t imagine my life clean and sober. Drugs were my best friend, my lover and my confidant. Drugs were my constant companion. Drugs helped me get out of bed in the morning and put me to sleep at night. With drugs, I was on top of the world. Without them, I felt sick, weak and pathetic. Drugs were my problem and my solution. Like every other addicted person, I was caught in a double-bind. Addiction is a progressive, chronic, brain disease. I needed more and more drugs to keep me from being sick. To justify the horrible things I did to achieve this, my thinking became dishonest and delusional. I had many excuses not to stop. I’m young, I don’t want to give up having fun. It’s not that bad, everybody does it. Drugs make me feel better. It’s no big deal. It’s only weed. I’m not addicted. I can stop whenever I want – I’m just not ready to quit. If you had all the problems I do, you would use drugs too. When faced in dealing with the consequences of my addiction. I had options… Jails, institutions or death. But today things have changed. We are in an epidemic and those options are limited. With 129 people dying from overdoses every day, it’s no longer jails, institutions or death. In 2016 it is die or recover. Every time you ingest street drugs you are playing Russian roulette. Will you live or will you die? You’d think the high odds of dying from an overdose would be enough to make even the most chronic of users, stop. But that’s not how this disease plays out. A reporter from a local news program asked me, “With all the resources we have for people who are struggling with addiction, is it getting any better out there?” Short answer… no. If anything, it’s getting worse. Maybe that’s because we’re putting more money into funding harm reduction programs, than we are into funding treatment and detox beds. I’m not a psychologist but it’s not a stretch to imagine that when we make addicts feel ‘safe and comfortable’ in their disease, they’re probably not going to seek change. If you’re struggling with addiction and want help, you can get better. Recovery can happen. Keep trying. Never give up. Put as much effort into getting well as you do into getting high and recovery will happen. A wise Japanese proverb says – fall down 7 times… stand up 8. Miracles don’t happen when you blow on dandelions and make wishes. Miracles happen when you become willing to do things differently. Actions, not intentions, will change the way you live. All you have to do to start the process of becoming well is pick up the phone and reach out for help. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-451-0263.