The disease of addiction is a disease of the mind and spirit. It is the only disease that tells you that you don’t have a disease. It’s the one disease that will kill you with your own hand while blaming the world for your decisions. It’s the only disease that tells you to poison yourself “one more time, just one more time.”
There are people who do not understand how cunning and insidious this disease really is.
It centers in the mind and convinces you that lies are the truth. Addiction lies about your insecurities being real. Lies about your self worth. Lies about who you are and what your potential is. It’s all lies.
What is messed up is that it uses your own voice to lie to you. You hear yourself and begin to believe these insistent lies. To hear your own voice demand your attention, confuses you. You become obsessed with finding a way out of the constant internal screaming that you’re a bad parent, you’re not smart or attractive enough, and that you’re not worth anything.
Then the same voice tells you that a magic little pill, a plant, an herb, a shot, a bottle- a substance will make you into the opposite of those lies. The voice says it will make you stronger emotionally, physically and mentally. That with whatever substance jives with your dopamine and serotonin will make all of this better, and make you better.
One day, after a load of destruction has been dropped on your doorstep without warning, there you are.
You’ve used everything and everyone and you can’t cover it up. You need more. If you only had more, you could deal. More and more and more. Then you wouldn’t have to feel, see or experience the hand you were dealt in the first place.
And finally, you have had enough. The pain is so great and reality is so bright that you can barely look upon it. You begin to question yourself, “Could drugs, alcohol, sex, travel, or work actually be my problem?”
Sure, your disease lets you quit for a while. You go to a few meetings, feel good physically, make some new friends, get through rehab or jail and out of the financial jam. Your family is great, and you feel great.
The disease wants to celebrate.
“Remember that time we had so much fun?” It reminds us that we used because we enjoyed the effect we felt. And of the connectedness we felt to normal people. Normal people; the ones who can drink and use successfully and not lose their jobs, house, car and family. It promises you can keep what’s left of your dignity. So you try some controlled using.
For some of us, the pressures of living day to day with our disease is exhausting. It continuously batters us with guilt, shame and remorse over what we’ve done. It beats us internally while we smile for the world. We kill ourselves while trying so hard. We desperately want to reach out because we are dying inside for our souls to be better. And our disease is waiting in the shadows of depression and anxiety for the next opportunity.
This disease isn’t one we can fight alone. It is spiritual in nature. The opposite of addiction is connection. We get better with the help of our loved ones, and with a higher power at our side. We’re deliberate in loving ourselves. The chains that have bound us for so long begin to break. It starts with hope and a decision to try.
Alexandra Gifford is the Behavioral Health Tech Supervisor for Amethyst Recovery Center and a recovering addict. She enjoys writing and sharing about her experience, strength and hope.