Recovery from addiction is hard — but possible

I didn’t wake up one day and decide to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. As a matter of fact, I felt the same way about people with substance use disorders that many others do. I would think to myself, “they just need to get it together. Why don’t they just stop using?”

I couldn’t understand how someone could put the drugs or alcohol above everything else.

Well, my thoughts changed when I found myself on the other side. I picked up my first drink at the age of 11. Little did I know, I had unleashed a beast inside.

I thought, I’ll never do hard drugs, I’ll never do anything illegal, and I can stop anytime I want to. But I always needed to get one more hit, one more drink. Drugs and alcohol numbed my pain and helped celebrate my joy. By the age of 21, my “nevers” became “forevers.” I couldn’t see that I needed help. I was caught in the grips of addiction.

A substance use disorder blindsides you. You don’t see it coming, and when you’re in it, you see no way out. There is no doubt: those who are battling these disorders face stigma from the community. That stigma is one of the most difficult parts of addiction because it held me back from getting the help I needed.

That stigma ignores the reality. I thought my substance use disorder was my own fault. I thought I was “an addict” and “junkie” — not realizing that these labels were also holding me back. I didn’t realize that I actually had a treatable disease.

Once I accepted that I had a disease for which there was proven treatment available, I was able to start my story of recovery. I had to change everything.

Letting go of the love I had for drugs and alcohol was a mourning process because it was all I knew. Others in recovery took me under their wings and showed me how to accomplish things that many people find so simple, like getting up every morning and…

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