Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
To The Person Struggling With Addiction, From The Person In Recovery.
— In the depths of my deepest, darkest despair, there were times I thought about taking my own life. I wanted the hell I was living in to stop. I tried many times to quit using drugs and alcohol, but I couldn’t refrain for long. Addiction changed me into someone I loathed and it’s changing you, too. You probably feel alone and afraid. Your family wonders why you can’t just quit. They believe if you loved them enough, you would give up drugs and alcohol – but it’s not that simple. Addiction is a complicated illness that is grossly misunderstood and misdiagnosed. It lies to you in your own voice. It can look like other mental health problems, such as depression or mood disorders. It culminates in negligent and criminal activities such as theft, DUI charges and bad choices and behavior. You may have been labeled a junkie or a loser or someone who is immoral and weak-willed. Sometimes you do awful things to feed your addiction. However, people don’t understand that you don’t want to do these things. You don’t like inflicting harm on others, but it’s really not that personal. Something more powerful than you is pulling your strings like a puppet. If you could stop using drugs or alcohol on your own, you would have. Drug use hijacks the pleasure pathway in your brain creating a complete loss of control. These changes mean your reasoning and impulse control are impaired. Although you used to be able to think logically about the consequences of your actions, you can’t anymore. This step has been removed. Now instead of cause and effect, your brain screams “get high or die!” [lorelie-callout] What’s happening to you is the worst kind of betrayal- your body and mind have turned against you. You’re not rational. You don’t think like a non-addict. That’s why addiction is called a brain disease. The changes in your body mean you’re physically dependent on getting your next fix. Without it, you’re going to be sick from withdrawals. The kind of sick that curls your toes, drills holes into your bones, loosens your bowels and tortures your mind. The changes in your brain mean your thinking is consumed with only one thought – getting more drugs or alcohol. You are confused by your condition. You beat yourself up and berate yourself. You think you’re a lost cause, but you’re not. There are times you try and fight it. You make promises and white-knuckle through it, holding on until you can’t stand to be in your own skin anymore and you seek relief through getting drunk or high. You promise yourself just one and are completely baffled when one turns into one thousand more. You’ve driven yourself crazy trying to figure out how to control your addiction so you can get the relief you seek without all the nasty consequences that go along with it. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, your life continues to deteriorate and spiral downwards. What you don’t understand is how sick you are. You’re more than sick, you’re dying. Addiction is a horrible process that takes you and your entire family with it. Instead of having compassion for yourself and reaching out for help, you continue to white knuckle it and suffer. You believe you’re in control, but you’re not. Denial is a real thing. You continue to rely on the same thinking that got you into this mess, to get you out. Addiction is a sickness that hides in your mind and your soul. It plays out in the way you feel about yourself and the things you tell yourself. In other words, your best thinking is killing you. It’s easy to judge you, but people should know this first – You judge yourself harsher than anyone else ever would. You hate yourself for what you’re doing. When you could stop, you didn’t want to. Now that you want to, you can’t. It hurts too much to care, so you don’t. You have moments of clarity, but they are brief. Shame is your second skin. You’re empty inside. You can’t love others when you don’t love yourself. Nobody wakes up and says: “I’m going to be an addict.” However, there is one choice you make, and that’s how long you will stay sick. While addiction is not a choice, recovery is. I know you’re giving up. You’re not afraid to die, you’re afraid to live and to feel. You’re sick and tired and just want addiction to end. Drugs and alcohol have been your best friend. You turned to them for comfort and now they are killing you. You want to get sober, but contemplating recovery is scary and overwhelming. You can’t imagine your life without substance – so don’t. Instead, focus on getting through the next five minutes and then repeat. Before long you will stop counting the minutes and begin building an incredible life. One that is so beautiful, it’s not worth losing to relapse. The real trick to recovery isn’t in the clean days you accrue, but what you do with those days. You are a survivor. You’ve gone to great lengths to feed your addiction. Recovery happens when you put the same amount of effort into getting sober as you did into getting high. I know, because I’ve been in active addiction and today, I have an amazing life. You can have an amazing life, too. All you have to do to get started is reach out for help or call the number below. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 888-601-8693.