An Open Letter to the Addict Still Suffering
To any addict out there struggling right now, to any addict who feels like a failure, to any addict riddled with guilt, to any addict who feels like they have reached the end, to any addict who has lost hope, I hope this message finds you. I know what all those things feel like, because I struggled with addiction for most of my adult life. I was an addict filled with anger, self-pity, self-doubt, hopelessness, shame, and fear. I was an addict who spent years knowing I wasn’t living the way I had ever envisioned but also spending years making excuses as to why I still used. I know what it’s like to feel totally numb when my eyes close at night, and I know what it feels like to wake up with an urge to do it all over again when nothing else on the agenda matters.
“Rinse. Repeat. Misery.”
Rinse. Repeat. Misery.
I know what it’s like to hurt the people I love most in the world until I make it nearly impossible for them to love me. I know what it’s like for them to continue to love me anyways, yet through a hateful and spiteful lens of what I’ve become. I know what it’s like to see the guilt in my parents’ eyes for my mistakes. I know what it’s like to become the “elephant in the room” at family gatherings. I know what it’s like to choose drugs over the woman I loved. I know what it’s like to make lying and manipulation my profession. I know what it’s like to become a thief. I know what it’s like to feel totally and utterly lost in this world. That was my life as an addict.
I also know what it’s like to suffer all of that for years on end instead of doing something about it. I think that’s what hurt me the most when I was knee-deep in my addiction. It wasn’t the pain or the failure or the broken relationships. We all have rough patches in life and all of us go through hard times. We all make mistakes. What hurt me the most wasn’t the fact that there was no way out. It was the fact that there was a way out and I kept choosing to stay exactly where I was while wallowing in my own self-pity. The only thing that feels worse than failing is not trying. I went to treatments and detoxes and told myself I was a failure because I didn’t stay clean. It wasn’t until my last program that I realized the problem wasn’t in failure, it was in not actually trying to make any lasting changes for myself. I wanted my life to get better, sure, but I always went into treatment to get off drugs. That’s the easy part. Taking a look at myself—a real look at who I was and who I had become—making impactful changes and making a decision to do whatever it was going to take to stay off drugs was where I had never truly made an effort.
So that’s the message. If you are sitting around right now feeling like there is no way out, I promise you there is. Begin believing just a little bit in yourself again, that there is more to your life than wasting it as an addict. The first thing I had to do was stop the procrastinating and stop making this thing more difficult than it really is. I just had to want it a little bit and get started. Pick up the phone, call somewhere or someone for help and go make the changes you want to make. Nothing could be more worth it.
J.P.—Narconon Suncoast Graduate