Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Independence Day Is Over, But You’re Still Addicted.
The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate the anniversary of national independence. For many, this means family barbecues and fireworks. But when there’s addiction in the family, a long holiday weekend can be just another excuse to overindulge in alcohol and/or drugs. When you struggle with substance abuse you make a lot of promises… and you break them. You’ve probably tried a hundred different ways to use cautiously, only to find yourself sick and remorseful after each binge.
You might wonder how it is your friends can use without consequences but every time you pick up, damage occurs. You’re tired of breaking promises and hurting people. You’re tired of being dope sick and hungover. You’re tired of feeling ashamed and guilty. You’re tired of being broke. You’re tired of all the lies and bullshit. You’re just… tired.
Independence Day has come and gone and you’re anything, but independent. Truthfully, you’re just the opposite. You’re enslaved. Addiction owns you and you know it.
Admitting I was an addict was the hardest thing I ever did. I tried a million different ways to avoid the ugly truth. I limited my alcohol intake. I only took so much cash with me and left the rest at home. If I was going to a social gathering, I brought my kids so I wouldn’t overindulge. Instead of buying an eight ball of cocaine, I bought one flap. Then measured out teeny, tiny snorts, until it was all gone.
Even when I could use sparingly, which wasn’t often, I was still addicted. When I limited myself, it was all I could think of. I might have been sitting beside you in the bar. You probably thought we were having a good time together. You believed I was listening to what you were saying, but I wasn’t. My internal dialogue was louder than everything going on around us. It screamed, don’t drink so fast, you promised you’d only have one. Or, that last line of cocaine was too big, you’re going to run out! My eyes weren’t on you. They scanned our surroundings looking for new opportunities because surely there was something I could use that I hadn’t promised, not to. I may have smiled and nodded in all the right places as we talked but believe me, the real relationship I was having was with my substance. It owned my thoughts, feelings and actions. You being there, was just window dressing.
The morning after was hell. I was drowning in remorse. It was awful. I’d promise anything to make it go away. In the harsh reality of daylight and sober, it was hard to argue the devastation my addiction had reaped on my life and the lives of my loved ones. It was in these moments clarity would unfold. Oh my God, I’m an addict.
I wasn’t the only one who felt remorseful. My family did too. Especially my Mom. As a parent she wondered if my addiction was something she did or didn’t do. She worried she’d make my addiction worse by saying no to me. Of course I played on that. I knew what to say to make her feel guilty. My Mom was easier to manipulate than the rest of my family. Many Moms are. When she felt guilty, she’d overcompensate and give in to my demands. At the time we both thought she was helping me, but we’ve come to learn she wasn’t helping me, she was trying to avoid her feelings of guilt. Saying yes to me made her feel better, the same way doing cocaine made me feel better. We were both doing the same thing. Only she was experiencing the consequences of my actions, while I was out getting high.
Lucky for me, my family decided to take action. They quit waiting for me to get well and chose to get well, for themselves. When they began to change it changed the dynamics in our family, resulting in me getting the help I needed.
If you struggle with addiction, you’re not alone. One in ten people are affected by this illness. Unlike cancer or heart disease, you may not get a lot of support. You won’t have cheerleaders when you’re on a drinking binge. People don’t feel sorry for you or bring you casseroles. Most people won’t look at you with empathy, but they will judge you. However, no one will judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.
If you’re like me, you find yourself going round in circles. Drinking or using too much, feeling remorseful, making promises, being on your best behavior and then the buildup begins. The buildup is an accumulation of feeling sorry for oneself, feeling miserable, feeling irritable and resentful, and becoming hyper-vigilant (focusing on the wrongdoings of the people around you). You punish your loved ones for your dry spells and eventually slip back into using ‘just one’ to relieve the pressure. The cycle begins all over again.
If you’re on the fence, stop and look back. You’ll notice the consequences of using are much worse now, than they were a few years ago. That’s because addiction is a progressive disease. It gets worse, not better, over time.
Today, I know drinking or drugging won’t make anything better. It will only make things worse. If you stand and deal – you will heal. There is hope. You can recover. Freedom from addiction is possible, but you can’t do it alone. Luckily, you don’t have to.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1 888 614-2379.