Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
What if being an addict was just the first step in a long and incredible journey?
Anyone who has experienced addiction, either personally, or as a loved one, knows the pain and devastation it brings. But what if it didn’t end there? What if there was so much more than pain and devastation? What if there was beauty and understanding, compassion and wisdom? What if there was strength and honesty and healthy relationships? What if there were leaders and successful, happy people?
What if being an addict was just the first step in a long and incredible, journey?
When we think of athletes we know they must go through a grueling, disciplined process, to reach their ultimate goal. Without hard work and dedication their bodies will not change. It takes willingness, determination, time and a team of supportive people, to help this change occur. It’s like that with addiction. What if instead of looking at this disease as a death sentence, we looked at it as an opportunity? It’s not the kind of opportunity many of us would welcome, but then again, most things that require change and a long hard look at ourselves, aren’t. Statistics say only a small percentage of people with addiction disorder, will recover from it. The odds seem rather grim. But what statistics don’t say, is recovery is one hundred percent possible. Given the right help and environment, this percentage increases exponentially. You might think; what’s the point in trying to get off your drug of choice, if the statistics are so grim? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction should be treated like any other chronic illness that affects the brain and body. The odds against achieving a perfect recovery are high. Without help, it’s nearly impossible to do.
But what if we’re making this more complicated than it really is?
When I was active in my addiction the thought of getting clean and sober, scared me. I found all sorts of reasons why I wouldn’t succeed. Looking back, I made the task much harder than it really was. In fact, I made it so hard, it seemed impossible. That’s what us addicts, do. We maximize the things that work against our addiction, and minimize the things, that don’t. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure and don’t take your medication, your blood pressure will sky rocket, leaving your life in danger. The same goes for diabetes. With addiction, you can give up drinking and drugging and still be in danger. You may be using substance to mask a psychiatric illness. Without proper medical and psychiatric care, it could just be a matter of time before you’d be out using again. But that’s not all. When it comes to addiction, substance use is just a bi-product of this disease. The real trouble comes from the way the addicted person thinks and behaves. I was rather humbled when I walked into a treatment center and found out recovering from addiction wasn’t nearly as hard, as I’d made it out to be. What was hard, was not calling the shots. You might think it strange that addicted individuals would still want to run the show, when they’ve made such a mess of things. But they do. Even stranger still, they think they know best. For addicts in early recovery one of the most important things they learn, is their thinking is delusional and they can’t trust it. There’s a saying in 12-step circles. ‘Get out of the driver’s seat and let someone else drive the bus.’ To put it simply, let others love and direct you, until you’ve proven you’re safe to do it yourself. When you’ve lived a life in despair and hopelessness and overcome it, the payoff is so very sweet. It’s hard to put into words. It’s a little like being blind, and then suddenly, you can see. Life is rich, vibrant and precious. You’re grateful for your struggles, for without them, you wouldn’t be where you are. Fredrich von Bodelschwingh describes it as: When you meet a clean drug addict, you meet a hero. Their mortal enemy slumbers within them; they can never outrun their disability. They make their way through a world of drug use, in an environment that does not understand them. Society, puffed up with shameful ignorance, looks at them with contempt, as if they were a second-class citizen because they dare to swim against the stream of drugs… But you must know: No better people are made than this. Whether heroes, or just doing the next right thing, the most courageous people I’ve ever met are those who’ve overcome obstacles. They’re humble folks who aren’t afraid to look in the mirror and admit and correct, their mistakes. Step out of your current mind frame and dare to dream. Did you ever think you might have been gifted with this illness, as a stepping stone into a better life? Miracles happen all the time. What if all you had to do to change the direction of your life, was to reach out for help and call the number below? You have purpose. The world needs you. Your family needs you. But most of all, you need you. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 888-601-8693.