When Bitterness Turns to Gratitude—Life on the Other Side of Addiction

Man having an addiction problem

As an addict, I was a bitter man. I was bitter when I didn’t have my drugs. I was bitter when I had them. I was bitter towards work because it was easier to place blame than to accept it. I was bitter towards my family because they simply didn’t understand how bad poor little me has it. I was bitter towards my friends because some of them dared to call me out on the way I was living. I was bitter in relationships, because why can’t my girlfriend just love me unconditionally. I was bitter towards life because it was easier to blame the hand that I was dealt with rather than the poor choices I continued to make. In short, it felt a lot easier to remain bitter rather than take responsibility for me, because when someone truly takes responsibility for their actions, change is inevitable.

Change for a drug addict is a scary proposition before it is made. There is a wave of uncomfortable factors that await a person wishing to get clean, which is one big reason a person will need the proper care and help to get through it. For many, there is a painful withdrawal, followed by confronting emotions that boil to the surface in the wake of the collateral damage caused by drug abuse. So much pain is accompanied by addiction that on the surface, it appears as though the numbing of drugs brings comfort. This is a façade, as I have yet to meet an addict who, if they are being honest, would describe their life as comfortable. Perhaps there is no greater façade that drugs create than the idea that life is better with them than without them, or that making the changes to experience what comes after addiction isn’t worth it in every conceivable way.

I don’t know what my life would be like without the adversity I faced through addiction. I don’t know if I would still take for granted what I used to before addiction took hold of my life. But I do know that I don’t take much for granted today. The appreciation I feel today is a product of what I have been through, for that much, I am certain.

Man walking the dog on a sunny street

I’m thankful for my family for never quitting on me and continuing to love me despite everything I put them through. I’m thankful I wake up every day feeling like I’m living the way I’m supposed to and am comfortable (there is that word again!) with my choices in life. I am thankful I have a job to go to that gives me great fulfillment, and I am thankful that I am confident in myself to do it well. I am thankful that I have friends in my life that I appreciate and that appreciates me. I am thankful I can feel all range of emotions again, the highs and lows and everything in between, and I am thankful that those emotions feel appropriate to the moment rather than produced artificially by a substance. Most of all, I am thankful for my life.

There is a stark contrast to the way I think today and the way I thought as an addict. It feels like two different people, yet it was simply me at two very different stages of my life. If I knew then what I know now, the changes that felt so scary to make would have been a lot more exciting than they were at the time. If I had known then what waited on the other side, perhaps I wouldn’t have waited as long as I did to make them. Hindsight is 20/20, and the reality is that I didn’t know how much better my life would turn out to be when I left addiction and all the pain and suffering that comes with it behind. But I sure am thankful I did. If you or anyone you know needs help, please reach out.



Justin has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 1 year. Justin earned his Bachelors's Degree in Finance from Florida State University. Having been an addict himself, he brings real-world experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Justin is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions.