Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health
Living Life With The Disease Of Addiction
Not all of us can say we’ve lived two lives in one body, but I can. And so have many others. 23 million people across North America experience this phenomenon. We are the people in recovery. The ones who are living life with the disease of addiction. The life I live today doesn’t resemble the one I lived in addiction, at all. The high me is very different from the recovering me. The high me is selfish, impulsive, irresponsible and driven by a pathological, compulsive need, beyond my control. The recovering me is empathic, gentle, kind, loving, loyal, responsible, hard-working and substance free. The high me was secretive, defensive and manipulative. The recovering me is transparent. I have no secrets. There is nothing to hide. The high me lived life as a double agent. Outwardly I went through the motions, get up, get dressed, go to work, clean house, cook meals, repeat… In the early stages of my addiction, you would never have known I had a problem. But on the inside, my mind screamed, get high, take a drink, give me something!! The high me was a liar. I told so many lies I couldn’t keep track of them all. Because I couldn’t remember (partly from blacking out) I got good at diversion. Instead of answering questions, I’d switch topics. But the saddest part of all, in order to deceive others, I lied to myself. The high me was on a suicide mission. The recovering me loves life. In early recovery, I had a difficult time telling the truth. Owning up to my mistakes was hard. I carried so much shame around for the things I’d done. But it was through honesty that I found freedom and forgiveness for myself and others. Left unchecked, healthy human emotions can slip into toxic fuel that feeds addiction. Feelings like anger can become resentment, shame, and embarrassment. Sadness becomes self-pity. Healthy fear can become paranoia. A healthy dose of ‘me’ time becomes isolating and disconnection. Drugs and alcohol promised relief and freedom. But when you cross the line into addiction they imprison you behind bars of misery, shame, hopelessness, and despair. It’s the worst kind of hell, as the perpetrator is also the victim. There are ways addiction can still play out in my life today – remembering the good times, ignoring the bad. Minimizing the damage using created in my life and the lives of the people who love me. Glorifying war stories. Not telling on myself when craving a drink or substance – are just a few. Being an open book is the extreme opposite of being an active addict. I had a hard time with it. I was uncomfortable being vulnerable. However, if you can’t share your thoughts and feelings, you will relapse. My counselors in rehab said I wouldn’t make it. I wasn’t ready. I was still saying what I thought people wanted to hear. Lucky for me, I got an extended stay in treatment because of this. At the time I thought I failed. But looking back, I see it was the best thing for me. More time bought me practice and forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Getting real is a hard thing to do. But if I were to recover, I had to do it. The first time I told my recovery circle what I was really thinking and feeling, my face got red. I had never experienced intimacy like that before. At least, not sober. It turns out healthy relationships are built on intimacy (into-me-you-see). Addiction is built on secrets (into-me-you-don’t-see). Drugs were my solution to everything. I used them to make me strong and independent. But they made me weak and fearful. Recovery taught me true strength. If I could describe my life today using only one word, it would be sweet. If you’re struggling with addiction there’s a reason you were chosen for this battle. We need you in this fight. Turn your pain into gain and join the voices of recovery. Staying stuck in addiction means your time here on earth is limited. To make matters worse instead of spending time with the people you love, you’re wasting it doing things you hate. That’s how the disease of addiction works. First, it takes your money. Then it takes your mind. And finally, it takes your body. To embrace my new life, I had to let go of my old one. To maintain long term sobriety, I built a life sweeter than the euphoria I found in chemicals. Living life with the disease of addiction can be a beautiful thing. My choices, attitude and efforts dictate my quality of life. The harder I work, the more I reap. The more I give, the more I get back. It turns out true freedom is never found in a pill, powder or drink. True freedom is obtained when one finds the courage to dig deep within themselves and take an honest look at what’s getting in their way. No matter how hard things seem right now, there is always hope. You weren’t put here to suffer. Addiction is not a moral failing. Making poor choices doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a sick one. You are worthy of love. Recovery is possible, but you can’t do it alone. To start your new life all you have to do is pick up the phone and call the number below. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-451-0263.