Advice from One Addict to Another
Good advice seems hard to find these days. When it comes to addiction, everyone has an opinion. I’ve always thought, “who better to advise addicts than someone who’s gone through it themself?”
Here’s a letter written by one of our graduates to do just that:
To Those Who Are Struggling with Addiction:
For any problem in life to be solved, the issue causing the problem must first be identified. Not recognizing the true source of a problem is what causes many of us to run in circles trying to problem-solve without ever finding a solution. Addicts will do this in spades. Life will be crumbling around them, and there will be problems around every corner. Attempts to find solutions sometimes results in taking the “easy way out,” which quite often is drugs and alcohol, which then become the solution to almost every problem.
So, why is this mindset so prevalent that drugs solve problems rather than create them? Do addicts really, deep down, believe they don’t have a problem? Do they truly believe things will eventually get better even as they continue to use? Does it truly come down to simply being in denial? Does it come down to fear? A fear of change, a fear of failure, or the fear of even trying? When does an addict finally accept and want help?
I’ve always felt the term “denial” in an addict to be interesting because I’ve heard it a lot. I’ve been told by multiple people that I was in denial when I had a drinking problem years before I ever got into drugs. The thing is, I didn’t want others to tell me I had a problem, but I always knew. I knew I had a problem. I rarely ever even denied it out loud. I just wanted to fix everything I could while avoiding the real issue. I had all sorts of plans of how I was going to fix my life. I was going to cut back the following week—only liquor on weekends and beer during the week. I wasn’t going to stay up so late, so I’d be able to sleep more and wake up earlier for work. When my alcohol consumption became a drug problem, I had plenty of plans on how I was going to be a successful drug user. You get the idea. My point is that even during those early years, before the truly dark times, I knew I had a problem and I chose to dance around the issue.
An addict will do almost anything to protect their ability to keep using drugs. That’s why addicts don’t typically wake up one morning, decide they are never going to use drugs again and that’s the end of it. That doesn’t happen because there is a multitude of issues underlying why a person uses drugs in the first place that never gets addressed. A person becomes afraid to handle that problem because the solution for that problem is change. Real change. Change for an addict is scary. It means going through some things that aren’t fun, such as withdrawal and confronting problems that have continued to escalate through addiction. It also means giving up the one thing that seemingly brings an addict comfort in a life that has inevitably turned to misery—the drug itself.
That’s why I believe one of the most courageous things an addict can do is to seek help, go to treatment and address the root of all the problems that accrue over long periods of drug addiction. The biggest trap I’ve fallen into over my life is going for the “quick fix” to a problem that isn’t a quick fix. Putting a band-aid on a broken arm, so to speak. Addiction can cause lots of collateral damage and create a whole slew of problems in its wake. The underlying problem, however, is still addiction.
“Addiction can be a very scary place and the prospect of getting help can seem even scarier for an addict. However, the solution is out there, and this isn’t something anybody needs to do alone.”
Addiction can be a very scary place and the prospect of getting help can seem even scarier for an addict. However, the solution is out there, and this isn’t something anybody needs to do alone. There is a place to go with people who want to help. If you or anyone you know is seeking help, please don’t be afraid to simply reach out and get it.
Justin P.—Narconon Suncoast Graduate