Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cylce of Addiction

Drug addiction is a cruel, merciless enemy. Once it has you cornered, it often seems there is no way out. What seemed like harmless recreational drug use became a prison of pain, guilt, shame, and hopelessness. Drug addiction operates under the "Frankenstein Theory:" if you create the monster, you own it. No one deliberately makes a choice to become addicted to drugs, but we do make a choice about using drugs recreationally that ultimately led to addiction. There is no safe way to use drugs. Addiction is an equal-opportunity destroyer that will take your goals, your self-esteem, your money, your family, your job, and eventually, your life. Drug addicts are extremely vulnerable to physical problems such as cancer, kidney and liver failure, heart failure, hepatitis, and HIV. Research indicates that drug addiction is a major cause of crime and incarceration for both men and women. It is a road to nowhere except jail or the morgue – or both.

In the midst of all this suffering, how can there be a way out? Is there any hope of defeating the monster and living a drug-free life again? A life before pills, bottles, needles, and powders? A life where you had a family who loved you, a job that you liked, and friends that weren't shoving needles in their veins? A life where there was no monster?

Yes, there is! As hopeless as it sounds, you can have your life back. No matter how tightly your addiction holds you, you are stronger. You can break that hold forever. Recovery won't be handed to you; you will have to work for it. Your addiction had a beginning; recovery also has a beginning. It starts with a choice – your choice to take back what belongs to you; your life, your health, and your spirit. Things that you thought were gone forever can be restored if you make that choice and mean it.

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to recover from addiction; there is only your way. On your journey to recovery, you will meet friends along the way who can help you when you falter, speak to you about hope when you're feeling hopeless, and lend you strength when yours is weak. When was the last time you slept through the night without drugs, enjoyed a meal, or played a game? As you recover, small things that you once took for granted will play a vital part in your life; health, nutrition, fitness, spirituality, restful sleep, affection, fun, and laughter!

Drug addiction is a cycle. You started with recreational use, believing that you can fully control your drug use. It become more frequent, and then even more frequent until your mind and your body were owned by addiction, the monster you created. However, recovery is not about self-blame. It is about personal responsibility and a total lack of denial about your addiction. Only then can the cycle of recovery begin.

Breaking the cycle of addiction

The number of Americans over age 12 using illegal drugs on a regular basis is in excess of 15 million. Each year more than 15,000 people die drug-related deaths. How could something so harmful be so popular? It’s really quite simple.

A feeling of acceptance. No pain. Complete and utter addiction. In most cases, a blatant disregard for life. Not all drug users start out with a blatant disregard for life and none start out with an addiction. Some just fall into drug or alcohol addiction by peer pressure or the temptation of having the substances close at hand in the home, perhaps.

In other cases, however, there is persistent pain. It can be emotional pain from childhood, like divorced parents and an absentee father, or emotional pain from adulthood, like the death of a loved one. It can even be physical pain from an old injury or botched surgery. The pain leads to depression and withdrawal and there seems to be no way out.

Numbing the pain seems the only option, and so begins the cycle of addiction. Soon, the body becomes more resilient to the effect of the drug or alcohol. A person resorts to higher and stronger doses, only to find themselves withdrawing further into depression and addiction. Impulse control becomes a thing of the past. Suddenly, the addiction progresses to the point where nobody and nothing matters as much as the next joint, the next drink, the next 8-ball.

Intervention may be required to isolate the person, cutting them completely off from their supply that feeds their addiction. They can then perhaps sober up enough to admit they need help. A drug rehab program is typically the next step, but only with a commitment by the student. It is an extremely difficult process of learning to love oneself again, learning to be self-sufficient and cope without fueling substance addictions. One must ultimately come to terms with the fact that the addiction is a problem and the problem has got to stop. Breaking through the denial to achieve a fierce desire for a better, healthier life is a fundamental building block of breaking the cycle of addiction.

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