By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Even as a junkie, I stayed true to vegetarianism – I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger. What a sexy paradox.” Russell Brand, My Booky Wook
I Understand the Problem
If you could trace your financial, legal, and relationship difficulties to strawberries, would you stop eating them? What if each time you ate a strawberry you broke out in hives? Would you discontinue eating them if you had to stay home from work due to the facial swelling?
I’m assuming that some of you find those questions silly.
But what if you substituted alcohol, crack, Xanax, heroin, or oxycodone instead of strawberries?
Just as the simple answer to the strawberry problem is, “do not eat them,” it is the same with our drug and alcohol problem, “do not use them.”
I’ve been in abstinence-based recovery for 30 years now. However, I remember and understand the pull of addiction, the desire to use, and the fears and uncertainty associated with recovery.
I also would not have appreciated reducing my use to the strawberry analogy. I would not have been able to see that making a choice to give up my drugs and alcohol could be that simple. The cravings, compulsions, and desires to use are not just physical. Our addiction is also about the emotions that we are trying to numb, or the thoughts that we are trying to quiet.
For many of us, we were dependent on drugs and alcohol as our primary means of coping with life, problematic feelings and thoughts, and giving them up, unlike strawberries, seemed too complicated. Click To Tweet
I Understand the Solutions
Fortunately, there are treatment providers who also understand the pull of addiction. Many providers are in recovery, but just as importantly, they are educated about all of the various types of recovery support meetings, therapies, and modalities to help you.
Providers understand the triggers that compel us to use even when we realize the adverse outcomes. But their experiences and education go beyond just relating; they know ways to help you cope with the emotions and thoughts.
Going to treatment in 1988, helped me learn ways to deal with my triggers whether they were mental, emotional, physical, or situational. While there were caring and helpful counselors, doctors, and clinicians, they were not going to “get me well.”
I had to decide to give up my drugs and alcohol and use their suggestions and follow the directions to heal. Making this decision to give up drugs and alcohol meant that I would have to look at the underlying issues that fueled my addictions.
Uncovering, Discovering, and Recovering
Was it easy to look at my manipulation, dishonesty, greed, or arrogance? Did I want to discover my underlying self-serving motives for most of my actions in my addiction?
No, it was painful to look at the reality.
However, looking at and identifying my negative aspects allowed me to label them and then find alternative thoughts, feelings, and actions to move me in the right direction. When I got over my initial embarrassment about my behaviors, I realized that counselors, doctors, sponsors, and accountability partners were not just pointing out my bad qualities but were relating as they had used the same behaviors.
I found comfort that there were people who were no different than me; they had used drugs and alcohol, and now they did not.
More importantly, they were willing to share what worked for them to recover. I made several more decisions while in treatment. I would need to stop:
- Being embarrassed
- Disagreeing with people before I even tried their solutions
- Feeling offended at their descriptions of my behaviors
There were also things I had to start doing:
- Be open-minded to directions for healing
- Tear down my walls and experience vulnerability
- Respecting that people knew what they were talking about
- Take advantage of treatment
My Hope for Each of You
I hope that you are encouraged and motivated to get help for your addiction. We all took risks in our addiction; now we use that courage to recover. Let someone help you. I understand that you will feel exposed and vulnerable when you open up to people, but it is the beginning of healing.
We have covered up our addictions with poor bandages, and now it is time to remove them and begin the process of genuine healing.
When you cooperate with counselors, doctors, sponsors, and accountability partners, you can authentically state that you have tried all of the suggestions. When you do not cooperate, aren’t you going to wonder if your outcomes might have been different if you did?
What Can You Do Differently Today?
Rather than miss another opportunity in life, take advantage of the help offered to you. For not only will you discover what needs to change, but you will also uncover strengths, talents, and abilities that you haven’t used in your addiction but are present within you.
It is our strengths and talents that help us put down our drugs and alcohol just like the strawberries. So today,
- Admit there is a problem
- Explore treatment options
- Go from despair to decisions to change
- Remove your barriers to getting help
- Begin a new way of life
- Let someone guide you in recovery
If You Need Detox or Treatment
The SAMHSA Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator is a searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs in the U.S. that treat alcoholism, alcohol use, and drug abuse problems.
There are over 11,000 programs in this free database that includes programs for:
Make that call today. This call may just save a life.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart
What do you do to maintain your recovery? Someone, somewhere needs your words of wisdom. Consider a guest post today.