My name is David and I am an addict!
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25 years ago, I was driven by a volunteer worker to rehab. The driver got me some cigarettes I remember. I had no clothes other than the ones I stood up in, no money, lost any contact with family, no partner, or friends. Bankrupt in all departments you could say. I had no intention of stopping drinking or taking drugs, I simply needed somewhere to hide for a while and gather my thoughts!
I ended up staying at the rehab for 8 weeks and I stayed in a ‘halfway house’ thereafter for 14 months! So, what happened? This remains a good question! I’ve thought about this often and have come to the conclusion that I am aware of some positive contributory factors but cannot encapsulate my whole early recovery experience into a word, sentence or a paragraph, just too much happened and it all happened quite fast!
Attitude of Gratitude
One of my favourite sayings is ‘Keep It Simple’ so I am going to try exactly that!
It can definitely be confirmed that my achievements in recovery were very much based on support from a host of different people. From my counsellor and recovering community in rehab right through to my family and staff at work today. I just wish I had been more appreciative of some of these people who ‘guided’ me in those early days but I was simply not mature enough to recognise or embrace what so many people tried to do for me!
An example of ingratitude would be some of the angry moods I displayed at Alcoholics Anonymous in those early days and yet no one ever said, “Don’t Come Back”! Maybe I was testing others and trying to sabotage? The essence of AA is ‘Keep Coming Back’ and so many others in the meetings could understand my behaviour and appreciate that it was part of my journey and did not judge me. There is no shortage of people that I would like to make amends to but some of them have died, old timers who never experienced rehab, just AA and asylums!
My parents did not drink, take drugs, or even smoke cigarettes and yet all three of their children, I’m the youngest are addicts! It just goes to move that ‘not all addicts drink and take drugs’ but they can exhibit dysfunctional behaviours through their actions or lack thereof! This is not an indirect opportunity to blame, certainly not. I have learnt that my parents and siblings did the best they knew how and that he never served me well in thinking that I was a ‘black sheep’. I could either swim around in self-pity and play the victim or move away from egocentricity and embrace that I too responded the best and only way I knew how!
Cunning-Baffling & Powerful!
Absolutely NOT! I have no desire to put this to the test and convinced that one drink or drug will take me straight back to hell. I occasionally wish I could smoke a cigar, but I am sure that I would end up smoking two packs of cigarettes a day if I did. Just because I choose not to drink or take drugs does not mean I am ‘cured’. I remain a ‘recovering’ addict who is vulnerable to any addiction who has survived this illness trying to seduce me through codependency which very nearly destroyed my recovery 20 years ago.
Recovery Lives Matter!
It is important to appreciate that not everyone is going to understand your addiction. Some of us desire our family members, friends, or partners to feel how we feel and understand what we have been through in active addiction. It is totally unimportant! The only people who can truly embrace our malady is other addicts who have crawled along the same path. Do not be fooled, we cannot afford to put conditions on our recovery and expect our families to fully understand because in most cases they will not but you can be assured that these very same people want you to happier and healthy.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process