Drug Addiction – Deceptive, Dangerous, and Deadly.
I thought I had it all, but really, I had nothing. Addiction will deceive you like that – you feel on top of the world, but really, you’re so buried beneath the shame at rock bottom that it becomes your existence. When your whole life is drug addiction, it’s easy to forget that before this, there was more.
How Does An Addict Realize They Have A Problem?
The biggest and most difficult part of going clean was realizing that I had a drug problem. How do you know you have a problem? The answer to that is subjective, but there are a number of red flags for a drug user and their friends or families to watch out for.
- Inability to work or socialize as effectively without drugs
- Anxiety, depression, mood swings
- Withdrawal symptoms between uses
- Prioritizing getting high before school, work, or family
- Money ‘disappearing’ from your wallet and bank account
Without self-awareness, though, these problem symptoms will never be apparent to the addict. I’d lost my friends and my home to my heroin addiction… and still thought I was doing okay. I had grown accustomed to the anxiety, withdrawals, and my lethargy on days between uses – it was who I was, and I forgot that I’d been anything else before. It was when I lost my girlfriend when I was stuck with nothing but myself and my dopesick depression, that I realized I wasn’t the person I’d been before.
Finding Alternatives To Avoid Going Completely Sober
I’d played with the idea of going clean. Is weaning off drugs effective? Can an addict become a casual user of drugs? The answer to these questions, as much as I denied it for so many years, was no. What’s the difference between recreational drug users and addicts? Addicts can’t use drugs casually. Simple, but I found out the hard way.
I spent almost a year trying to find ways that I could successfully use heroin in moderation. That’s a pipe dream – no pun intended – that most addicts entertained. Accepting the need to be completely abstinent is why many addicts struggle to go clean – it’s much easier to make an excuse to keep using than own up to their guilt. Why do I have a problem? How can I accept responsibility for my heroin addiction? How can I accept the damage I’ve done to my friends? I always pushed these questions to the back of my head, but as my life fell apart and I found myself homeless, friendless, and loveless, I came to truly accept that it was all-or-nothing. I had become a destructive force in my life and the lives of others, and I had to smarten up.
The Struggle Of Detox And Self-Acceptance
To get my life back, I had to go clean. This was a huge lifestyle change – sobriety and abstinence had to become my standard when for years, my standard was scoring dope and being sick. It sounds easy to change, but bad habits die hard – and I had to completely dump drugs off my routine. I was shedding, in essence, everything I had become.
Detox is no easy process. Detox takes a lot of sacrifices. Detox is rebuilding your entire lifestyle from the ground up, and that change takes a lot of strength.
To end my dependency, I had to isolate myself completely. By a stroke of good luck, my family still supported me after my years of miscreant deception – other folks I would have to rely on. Once I was evicted, I spent a week at my mom’s – a city away from all my contacts (though the urge to simply hitch-hike back to town and crawl to one of my dealers was persuasive.) I identified my triggers for using, and I surrounded myself with care and love. These three things – and, most importantly, admitting that I was an addict – were crucial for curing my drug addiction.
To ease the pain of withdrawal, I used a couple of tools – mainly:
- Multivitamins to restore nutrient depletion
- Pepto Bismol for nausea
- A huge bucket by my bedside for… you know.
Even with a detox kit, some people find the process so rough that they need a medicated treatment regime. Experiencing withdrawal is enough for one to know that they never want to experience it again, and – in a paradoxical sense – it was the pain of the experience that I clung to in order to stick it through.
Abstinence – It’s All-Or-Nothing
The most important thing for an addict hoping to recover is that they accept their problem and that they have a desire to heal. No matter the distance they put between themselves and drugs, and no matter how many times they delete their dealer’s numbers, without self-acceptance and a need to recover, they will always slip back into usage. Accepting a dependency, and seeing the damage it does, will ultimately lead to the desire to detox. Armed with the right mindset, a drug addict preparing for rehabilitation is ready to sacrifice everything that they’ve become like an addict.
It’s all-or-nothing, and that’s the final straw. A junkie can try many times to go sober, but without the sacrifice of the self-identity, they’ve adopted with their lifestyle, and the determination to change who they are as a person – whose efforts will be wasted.