Clean Date: December 2, 2015
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
The way I see it I had very early signs of addictive tendencies before I put a drug or drink into my body. Ever since I was a kid, I had a huge need to escape. Whether it was through reading, eating, or what have you I always took and did in excess. The drugs started when I was about 13. Both of my parents are addict/alcoholic, and the access to substances was always there.
Active addiction was a long, hard road for me. Some people slowly descend into using, but I did not. I started off fast and heavy. Since I started using so young, drugs were my identity. I had no idea how to function or be the real me without them. This left a big, black hole that destroyed all the good things in my life. Since we project who we are unto the world, this is how I saw things outside me as well. I thought the world was a cold, hurtful place. So, of course, I had to get high to mask this all out. But anyone who is an addict/alcoholic knows this doesn’t work forever. You hit a brick wall. It doesn’t work anymore. That’s the scariest place to be. I knew I either had to die, or try to get clean.
I will be perfectly frank that in the beginning I did not want to get sober. But I can tell you the things that led me to want to get better. At first, I just wanted to get rid of my consequences. I had recently been arrested in Memphis, TN and while facing a court date and not having a single soul in the world. I made my way down to Florida for treatment. I was 18 years old, and I believed there were no good people in the world. The people that I encountered in treatment, where the most loving and kind people I have ever met in my entire life. They loved me until I could love me. Which in return, gave me the hope and desire to stay sober.
My life in recovery is everything I thought I would never have. I am who I thought I would never be. My friends are the people that I thought I would never have. I never thought I would be genuinely happy. Genuinely content. Genuinely free. These simple words cannot truly convey how truly profound it is in my life. It makes all the hard times and struggles worth it. I am worth it.
Active addiction can really damage how you see yourself. Through sobriety, I’ve come to love myself and realize the unique characteristics about me. My favorite one would have to be my compassion. It certainly is the most rewarding thing about me. I firmly believe that by giving is how we receive, which is what you will learn if you are in recovery long enough. Secondly, I’ve really come to appreciate my own strength. There were many times that I thought I wasn’t strong enough, but I always was. Those are my two things I really love about myself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to feel confident in your own skin, but those are the things that matter to me most. They matter, because I had to heal from the inside out.
The biggest thing I am grateful for from my program and programs alike is altruism. Unconditional love. I received it from the very beginning of setting foot into a treatment center. I received unconditional love even when I acted out and did not deserve it. It is also my utmost honor to be able to practice altruism. I practice this at work, in the program, with others, with strangers, and with myself. Which is the most profound experience for me and what this program taught me how to do.
For the person that is struggling right now… Just know you are worth it. No matter what you have done, and no matter where you have been. We are so good at acting on impulses. So, if you are reading this and you are considering going to treatment, take that impulse. Go to treatment, go to a meeting, ask for help. The worst that can happen is you might get to change your entire life. I can promise you that you will be met with nothing, but love and open arms.
For the family and friends of someone struggling with addiction… it’s tough. You can’t give in to them, but you can’t necessarily withhold from them either. It feels at times as if you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. My suggestion is to care for yourself during these times. Go to an Al-Anon meeting, therapy, or work closely with the treatment center your loved one is at. Whatever the suggestions of Al-Anon/Treatment Centers are, do them. If it’s time to stop enabling, stop. If it’s time to show support, support. It’s hard to tell when it’s okay to do what. So, listen closely to the professionals and try to find some healing for yourself as well.