Thursday, March 27, 2008

sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

I find myself watching that show on A & E INTERVENTION from time to time. Sometimes I get sucked right into the addicts story of woe while other times, the addict ends up infuriating me so much that I fear I'll end up giving myself a stroke! I know that every addict is different and so is their tolerance, etc but you'll be hard pressed to convince me that someone who has just been using for a couple of years is going to have as difficult a time kicking then someone who has used for a couple of decades. Whatever, that's not really what has got me all fired up!

I am very much aware that there are a whole lot of people who drink or drug so that they are able to escape or forget some awful past trauma, or to self medicate either diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues. I also think that there are a whole lot of us out there who drink or take drugs just cause they like to drink or take drugs! I was most definitely one of them.

It's often much more difficult to watch the addicts support group as they struggle to come to terms with their addict and his/her behaviour. Without exception, they all seem to have a tendency to blame themselves in some way for the addicts problems. Maybe that's true in some cases, but I suspect that more often than naught, it is not at all related. Maybe they're simply being too hard on themselves. Certainly if they actually did something terrible, then my guess is that they already know it. So, if they are unable to actually think of anything that they could have done to cause them to drink or drug then there probably isn't anything at all. They should attempt to move on and stop torturing themselves with guilt, vainly searching for that traumatic event that caused their loved one to become an addict. They may simply have to accept that perhaps their addict does what they do simply because they love getting drunk or high for this and this alone.

I wished many times when I was young and immature and arrogant that I had something in my past to be tortured about. It's a lot more romantic and punk rock if your life is filled with some sort of angst! Unfortunately for me, I was as far removed from that lifestyle than one could possibly imagine - now, since my late teens and early twenties, I've since managed to change all of that and wish that I didn't have some of the baggage I've now managed to accumulate in the past two decades!

I was fortunate enough to be raised by involved, loving and kind parents, given every middle class advantage. I did exceptionally well in school. earning a full paying scholarship to university upon my high school graduation. I was a lifeguard at our local pool every summer and worked as a waitress at the local truck stop during the school year. I had more than enough friends and no terrible, life altering story to tell about my teen years or even any tease worthy physical defects. I had what many would consider an idyllic childhood and yet, I still managed to spend two and a half decades abusing substances as if this were my true life's calling.

I discovered booze in my mid teens, and I loved it. I mean, I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. I then managed to spend the next many years of my life enjoying it to great excess. I drank because I liked getting drunk too much. It fit just right inside my mind. Eventually, of course, the drinking got less fun, certainly less exciting, and in fact, actually started to get boring. It never got to the point where my drinking interfered with my work or life but still I could see that if I didn't reign myself in that I'd be unable to maintain the status quo much longer.

Drinking was much easier to walk away from simply because I had something newer and shinier to replace it with. I still had a pretty idyllic life even though I'd since been through a couple of really nasty relationships but even so, I never used any of this as an excuse to continue my substance abusing lifestyle. I had now simply integrated this into my everyday routine. Even at the very end of my final out of control opiate addiction two and a half years ago, I was never, ever using because of some awful trauma that I was trying desperately to suppress. To the end, and I mean to my absolute final hit with that syringe filled with about 12mg of dilaudid, I was using simply because I loved to use. End of sentence, full stop. Period.

In the end, it doesn't matter much how you got yourself addicted, once you are, you have a struggle ahead of you, and I don’t think that falling into addiction this way is any “worse” than falling into addiction and abuse for any other reason. Nobody plans to become a desperate drunk or drug addict, certainly not initially or intentionally, although as a species, we seem to be hardwired to seek out pleasure – and for those of us that seem to get more pleasure out of a drink and drugs than others, it’s understandable why we might get ourselves into trouble.

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