Addiction you will find to be defined as a biopsychosocial disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. When you find yourself grasped at the wrath of this disease for 10+ years, you see no escape. You are confined to a prison that you call life and seem unworthy to live on the other side of those bars. You try, but each fall seems to pull you further down the dark rabbit hole. You begin to lose the sense of reality and live in an alternate universe than the one you were born into. Your very existence relying on one thing and one thing only. When you are trapped by this disease for so long, it starts doing things to you, physically and mentally. You’ve been stuck in this life for so long you cannot see any way without it. When you try to remove yourself from your addiction, it’s like you are mourning the loss of a love one while also experiencing the physical detach from your drug.
When using becomes your way of life for so long, you are at high risk for nearly every system and organ in the body to be affected. Going hand in hand with that, you will have impaired cognitive function, changes in memory and higher risk to contribute to or worsen mental health conditions. Not to mention the slew of indirect effects of addiction. The fight now becomes harder, but not impossible. You become stronger on the other end. It does not matter how many times you fall, what matters is about how you finally stood.
For myself, I lived a decade under the influence. My mind constantly clouded by a substance for ten years. The longer I used, the greater the consequences. After hawking everything that was worth anything and running their pockets dry, I had terrorized my family to a point that they would hit the ‘F U’ button any time I would call. Any friends that I had were just using buddies that didn’t last very long because I’d be taking their bags and then look for them. Privileges that I did not realize were privileges until they were taken away from me, like my driver’s license. I was stuck sitting with a version of myself that I did not know, a zombie of who I used to be.
I had been to treatment center after treatment center, flop house after flop house. Each time teetering right on the edge of sticking with it or going back down my old path. Each slip bringing me deeper than the last time, with the chaos hitting me like a tornado. Each try brought me more knowledge, and something in that kept the hope to keep trying. Finally having enough, wanting to return to the girl I used to be. I gave in, I accepted help from others, I listened, I followed direction. During this process, I did not know that the girl that I used to be would not be returning. The girl that was changed from a decade under the influence. I became so much more, something more beautiful. Each day learning something new about myself. New things that make me smile, new things that make me cringe. Every day like a new journey that I am taking, sometimes not so gracefully either. Life continues to happen, but we are able to just keep going, even after a decade of being under the influence.
Written by Megan Thomson, Wavelengths Recovery Executive Assistant.