I was going to write about this in poetic form, but it wasn’t sounding quite right, was sounding like I was trying to oversimplify or be dismissive. Addiction is something I understand personally, but not in the grander scheme of things. I get how it affected me. I get how it still affects me as I am still addicted to nicotine. What I have never gotten or fit in with is the whole recovery culture, the Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous structure. I don’t get the entire philosophy that says “I have no power” and how that helps people. How does saying that you are powerless help you recover? For me – I want to claim my own power; my power as a human, as a woman, as a mother. I want to own it, to stand firm in it, to grow confident in it. I don’t want to hand that power over to anyone else or try to say I don’t have any – that seems so foreign to me. And yes, I’ll piss a lot of people off saying this, but that just sounds weak. It sounds like you’re holding on to a good excuse for if you do screw up, like then we can just blame some force outside of ourselves for our own decisions. I also strongly disagree with the term “recovering” that says that every single person on the planet who has ever been an addict will ALWAYS be an addict, that you can’t ever be RECOVERED.
I understand addiction, personally. I understand that my smoking is a coping mechanism. That I don’t know how to handle stress in a completely healthy way. I have always had some sort of crutch to fall back on. I know that when I quit smoking, the biggest reason I go back is because when stress hits – I don’t handle it very well and feel like I need that chemical and that habit to relax/calm down. However, I feel like I am completely in control of that – if I did what it took to learn other coping mechanisms that were not nicotine based and worked really hard at implementing them I would, and will, be able to quit smoking for good. I am the one who consciously chooses to go into the store and purchase cigarettes – no outside force is pushing me into that store and forcing me to do that. Some people may say – Yeah, but smoking cigarettes isn’t a really big deal – you can’t really relate to alcoholism or drug addiction.
Actually…I also know methamphetamine addiction. I did meth for four years, I would say the last 2 ½ of those years were the worst. And it wasn’t JUST the drug, it was the entire culture, it starts out “just fun” and then turns a quick, dark turn. Your life becomes consumed by getting that next high. It washes away all the negative emotions, it makes it so you’re not really dealing with any real aspects of life. You say you can “quit any time” but then you go without it and you feel AWFUL and it is all that you can think about. March of 1998, is the last time I used Meth. I used other drugs after that for a while; smoked opium, smoked weed, tripped on acid a few times. I actually smoked a lot of weed for a while because it seemed to help with the withdrawals from meth which were horrific, especially the nausea. It didn’t, however, help with the longest lasting side effect which was major anxiety attacks, especially in crowded places. By February 1999 I was down to occasionally smoking weed and drinking and that is when I got pregnant, unexpectedly, with my first daughter. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with her I didn’t drink or do any drugs, but I did continue to smoke cigarettes. Looking back I think – What was I thinking?! But almost everyone I knew at the time had when they were pregnant and their babies were fine, and my midwife said that if I didn’t handle the stress of quitting well that could potentially be worse. The things you justify in your teens and 20’s!
I have since gotten married, had another child, gotten divorced, experienced numerous major life changes, losses, heart breaks. I have one family member who seems to get particularly worried about me when anything majorly disruptive happens in my life, and for a while I knew it was because she was worried I would use again. Now I’m like, does she STILL think that is a possibility?! I haven’t asked her, but apparently lots of people do. As another celebrity died the other day from an apparent drug overdose I read lots of different things, but some of the ones that bothered me most were from people “in recovery.” Reminders to everyone “in recovery” that we are ALL at risk of that being us, we are all just one day away from relapsing and overdosing ourselves. I know I shouldn’t let it bother me, it is just part of the philosophy they’ve bought into and if that is what has helped them be sober, that’s great. But part of me wonders if that also is what helps people relapse? This mentality that we’re not ever really “cured,” that we don’t have any control or power, that at any moment any of us who have ever had an addiction before could run right back to our drug of choice! Maybe I shouldn’t be offended because when they say “any of us in recovery” they aren’t talking to me – I’m not in recovery, I’m recovered. From that addiction any ways. I KNOW with 100% surety that I would never, EVER under any circumstances snort anything up my nose EVER again. I know that I would never do this for lots of reasons; I would never jeopardize my kids’ lives and wellbeing is a big one of them. But also; I QUIT, I decided that wasn’t the life I wanted and I don’t ever want to do it again so therefore I won’t. I don’t want to feel that way again – that high, that not really FEELING feeling and I don’t EVER want to go through withdrawals again. I would take days of bawling my eyes out over feeling like a zombie any day now. I WANT to feel, as feeling is what makes me human, it’s what makes me alive. If I can’t feel deep pain, I also can’t feel deep joy!
I have been told numerous things over the course of the past 15 or so years. I have been told how “lucky” I am, that I was able to quit when I did and how I did (pretty much cold turkey, no treatment). I have been told what a low rate of recovery meth has. But what I have never been told, never told anyone else and never want to be told is that I have no control and that I have to depend on some mythical being/higher power in order to keep me from making poor choices or using again. The reason I’ve never been told this is because I never went to treatment or to an NA group. I feel like if I was told that, if that was the assumption I was living under I would spend the rest of my life nervous, feeling like I was walking on egg shells, waiting for my weak ass to screw up! No thanks. I and only I have total and complete control over what I do or do not do each and every day. Sometimes I do the right things, sometimes I screw up and make poor choices – but they are still mine and I take full responsibility for them!