I have been trying to get clean for over a decade, I wanted to get clean, I needed to get clean, and I knew life would be better if I got clean. But, the addiction does not care what I wanted, I was obsessed with heroin and escaping life which seemed like how my life would end. They say we aren’t addicted to the drugs themselves, rather we are addicted to the way they make us feel and the escaping power they have on our lives. It really turns into a horrible cycle which is hard for some people to understand. The more we use, the more we feel like shit about ourselves, the guilt, and shame, and then we go through the physical sickness and that is awful, but to avoid that we use. Starting the cycle over and over again. I hear all the time that the user will not get clean unless they want to, which 100% I agree with, however, the want to get clean is not always enough, there really is so much more to it.
Even after we get clean for a month, three, twelve, life still happens and it is not always easy. Life really has a crazy way of throwing things at us that we think we can’t handle. Somehow, someway, we figure it out and that is what life’s about. It really is not what happens to us that dictates who we are or how we are going to live our lives. Rather, it is how we deal with what happens in our lives that is going to dictate who we are and who we become in our lives. Changing how I deal with things and what I ALLOW to bother me has really been a big step forward in my recovery. We have no control over what other people do, and life happens, so it isn’t what happens, rather how you deal with what happens that is important.
I always thought if I were able to get rid of the drugs, or eliminate the drugs from my life, that the work to stay clean would be easy. Early on in my addiction I really thought that if I could just get over the physical illness that everything else would be easy. The physical withdrawals are so intense, literally it feels like I am about to die, but I don’t, I keep living through it, feeling every second of it. Escaping how I felt about myself and my life is really what lead to my relapses every time. I may have cleaned the drugs out of my system, and detoxed so many times that it just became normal, but I thought that was all I needed for my treatment, was to get over the physical sickness. I really couldn’t even process the mental addiction the drugs had on my brain, read the “Obsession” if you haven’t, and because of that, I never really was able to or wanted to address some of the major reasons why I continue to use. A lot of people may try drugs or alcohol, but to become an addict takes a perfect storm of circumstances that leads us to thinking that drugs are the only option for us to feel better about ourselves.It comes down to personal self worth, self esteem, and value of self, that is why we treat ourselves so good, or so bad depending on how we are living. One of the biggest things for me was thinking that I wouldn’t wish dope sickness, and withdrawal on my worst enemy, but I put myself through it everyday. If that isn’t the most convoluted statement ever. The self destructive behavior had to stop and once I was able to realize that I wasn’t getting high because I wanted to, I was getting high to cover up how I felt about myself. Then I had to figure out why I felt that way about myself and change my focus, change what I wanted to have important to my life.
I did have a lot of trauma happen to me as a child, mostly at 4 years old, is when everything happened. Sexual abuse, Abandonment, Cop Car, Foster Care, and then being sent to live with my father who I hadn’t know that well at that point. Then in 2012 when my ex girlfriend murdered my dog and it became world news, please read “Pink Diary”, my PTSD from that has really taken a toll on me. For a long time, and sometimes still today I feel guilty for not protecting MJ. Makes me sad, but she would be happy to know that because of her, I got away from that woman, and maybe she would have killed me next, she is back in prison now, but if MJ could see me now, her tail would be waggin for sure, with those floppy ears.
Anyway, Since 2008, when my first two friends passed away during college, a month apart, I have had forty more friends pass away and having to save the life of a few of my buddies and a few girlfriends, has really taken its toll on my mind and thoughts. It is scary and I have saved more lives, and had more friends die than anyone I know combined, besides the ones in the medical field. That is crazy! My point is, regardless of all of that, I can sit down, feel sorry for myself and do nothing. For a while, getting high, I thought was working, but it just compounds the issues and creates more issues, and how I lived like that is mind boggling to me. I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me but I wanted to share my story and some people took that as a narcissistic attempt to get people to feel sorry for me. I never wanted that at all, just wanted to share what I went through and the pain that I was masking with drugs. This was me sharing my story before I created SoberSteveRecovery and was called that then, so imagine some of what I deal with now. It really is crazy, but the reason I shared my story was so people could maybe understand why I was the way I was and what I dealt with in my life that makes me who I am. Everyone says, I went through hard times as well, and that may be the case, and I completely understand that everyone goes through life and things happen to all of us. Again it is how we deal with things that really makes us who we are. For the most part, addiction issues stem from some kind of childhood trauma mixed with a lack of nurture during the pivotal years of about 4-14, where children really start to form who they are going to become and how they feel about themselves.
Not everyone is predisposed through genetics to have addiction issues and even some who are may never be exposed to drugs so their addiction never starts. I say this a lot and it’s like the movie ‘Perfect Storm’, and that is how I explain how I became addicted to heroin. All aspects of my life, how I felt about myself, who was in my life and how the flow of everyday went, when I first tried heroin, I really did not think about the long term devastation it was about to cause in my life. I didn’t really know, but I was smart enough too, just the variables lined up and my addiction started, by the time I thought it may be a problem I was hooked and I guess embarrassed and ashamed to say anything so I just started to dictate my life. Using is just such a terrible cycle, we use to feel better about ourselves and to physically feel better, but the drugs make us feel worse about ourselves for doing them, and when we do not have them, we get sick. Even coming off of uppers, like meth and crack the crash makes us feel like such shit, the endorphins and serotonin gets so messed up that the crash is like being dope sick, just completely depressed and then we use drugs to mask that or feel better. And so the cycle continues.
Everyone asks what to do to get clean or how they can help their loved one get clean. I am currently trying to help a pregnant wife in South Africa with her ‘stone’ addicted husband into treatment. I believe that is meth. But the main thing is if the person wants to get clean, then the work begins, nothing can happen unless the person wants to get clean and like me, even then, it can take 13 years and 40 rehabs to get clean. I never gave up on myself, or my future and now I am creating the type of life I always knew I deserved. Once, the person says they want help, I am starting to recommend a 28 day inpatient rehab center. The week-long detox is not long enough, and for people who say they can’t go somewhere for 28 days, if you don’t you could be dead and that is forever. So just be willing, and open to try to go outside of your comfort zone for a better life long term. The 28 day detox will start out with a lot of withdrawal and sickness and being medically monitored really helps, they try to make it a little more bearable. Then building up the body and getting physically stronger is what those week 2 and 3 are about. The brain will be so scattered with drug dreams, cravings, racing thoughts, and in the beginning stages of healing. Do not overwhelm yourself too quickly into recovery. Too many times I tried rushing back to life and without doing any work to stay clean, that’s leading to relapse for sure. That last week of impatient treatment is where the work really starts to begin.
Through the first few weeks, there are groups to attend and it is laying the groundwork for the long term treatment plan. Which I strongly believe is different for everyone, but basically follows a template. Relapse Prevention Plan, Coping Skills, and a Crisis Plan in case of major catastrophic events, on to a daily recovery plan, it does take work everyday. I also have a Therapist, Psychiatrist, and great Medical doctor, and his two nurses, and an amazing sobriety coach who has been by my side since the beginning of my recovery journey which has been a big help. Going to a 60 year old man in AA for my sponsor just was not going to be conducive to my recovery and I knew that. Like I said, 40 rehabs, I did 90 in 90, meaning meetings, and then did it again. I really was always open to trying things to get clean, and I followed directions. It just was that the cure is not the exact same for everyone.
The cycle of addiction is literally the devil at work, and he is constantly waiting for a lapse, or a moment of vulnerability or weakness so he can squeeze back into our lives. Everyday that we use the tools we have to defeat our addiction is one more day built on our foundation to recovery. Our addiction never took any days off, and either does our work in recovery. They say we mentally and emotionally relapse before we ever pick up the drink or drugs and physically relapse. It is important to stay focused, have a solid treatment plan, and build a really great support system around you. The idea is to create a life for yourself that is so great and so amazing, that even when hardships occur, living this recovery life is indispensable.