How My Addiction Story Helped Me
Your Addiction Story has a Purpose
Your story, your addiction and your recovery can be purposeful. Tell it and let it be what it is. What you’ve been through happened for a reason.
Imagine all the pain that you’ve been through. All the heartache. All the times you hit rock bottom. All the times you picked yourself back up just to fall down again. The times when you thought, “This is going to be the last time”, then you picked the needle, the pipe, the bottle back up. Think about the people you once thought were friends and how they just didn’t understand why you were on drugs. Maybe you had family who stopped talking to you because of the things you were doing. Picture the nights you spent in the streets. The nights you didn’t care if you lived or if this would be your last hit – you just wanted to feel that high again. All the times you’ve cried, all the times you’ve wished you were dead, all the times you wanted to change, but for some reason you just couldn’t. The times you felt like the pain would never end. Or maybe the look in your mom’s eyes when you tell her you relapsed again, or the sound of your sister’s voice through the jail phone. The beep saying that you’re almost out of time then empty silence on the other end when the call ends. You lost your job, your house, your car, your kids, your freedom. You lost everything.
Now think about your recovery. Think about what it took to climb up from that dark, misty trench of drug and alcohol detoxification and reach for the little sliver of light that seemed so far away. All the work you put in. All the times you wanted to give up. All the times you didn’t give up. Think about the new friends you’ve made, the connections you’ve rekindled. Maybe some things didn’t come back. You probably still cry sometimes and you probably still imagine the hit, the high, the buzz.
Picture Where You Have Been and Where You Are Now.
The isolation I experienced in my addiction ended some relationships, but brought new life to others.
I don’t do well with change, but then again, who does? I learned really fast that I had to start changing myself if I wanted things to be different. All I knew anymore was how to numb the pain by whatever means possible, but what I knew more than anything was how desperately that had to change. I had to learn to feel things that I didn’t want to feel. I began to learn how to cope with the vast spectrum of emotions that had always led me to using and I began to replace using with talking and other coping techniques to deal with any issues as they arose. I learned how to be okay with my past and most importantly, I learned that I am deserving of a future. I learned how to sit with myself in the most uncomfortable of times and be okay with it. As uncomfortable as it was at first and above all healing techniques, I learned how to share my addiction story, and what recovery is for me.
Every time I share my experiences of my life on drugs, I come more and more out of the darkness of addiction into the light of recovery and hope.
There are so many people who are like me and have been through the same things I’ve been through. They’re in that darkness, and they want to be out in the light. I can help them and through helping them I help myself. There’s a strength that comes from being vulnerable. It gives others hope and it reminds me of my purpose. When I share my story it helps others feel like they can share their story, too. It connects us in a way that shows me that I did the right thing by getting clean. My scars became my story. I started growing from the experiences I had and I started teaching others how to do the same.
Recovery Can Be Hard
But its even harder if you don’t have people who understand what you’re going through. I can be that person for someone else. I can cry with them and laugh and tell them I understand how hard it is to want to give up but not want to start over again. Somehow, I remember everything – the detox program, the treatment, the work I put in to live a drug-free life again, and the steps that led up to the worst days of my past – before I ever got to this life. I know what it’s like to feel alone and in pain. I’ve lost everything, I’ve been in their shoes.
Now this is not saying that it wasn’t difficult to start sharing my story. I was ashamed of the things I had done and the place I had put myself in. I started sharing in a place I knew would be safe, a place with other people who had shared their story with me. From there I started sharing with other people who I knew had been in the same place and were in the recovery process. Then I began sharing with people who were just thinking about recovery. The hardest people to share with were the people I loved who had not been in the same place as me. It was difficult to acknowledge the pain that I had put them through in the depth of what ultimately led to my heroin addiction. But telling them my story brought me closer to them. There were people who still didn’t understand, but in my mind that just means they weren’t ready yet.
Recovery is like a blank canvas to paint, to write on – your story is waiting to be told and heard.