After more than a year on my path to recovery, I’ve had so many experiences that changed my overall mentality towards drug addiction and issues that we face while holding the label. From personal to professional relationships, the many opinions that revolve around this topic can deter a person who is contemplating whether to pursue recovery and just continue using.
It’s no secret that during my time as an avid user, I absolutely loved the euphoric effects, the risk of using in public places or other people’s households, the rush we get before meeting with the dealer and that sensation from using after being “clean” for a few hours, days etc. My point is, the toxicity behind the love for using and the overall process becomes a lifestyle of self destruction, unnecessary/potentially life altering risks and the health deterioration we face the more and the longer we use.
The change in personality, all the empty promises and the criminal like acts we perform that most of the time hurt our loved ones are what people notice almost immediately. While most will judge and use our addiction as an insult, deep down (whether we’ve already accepted it or not) we still know what they are saying is true, no matter how much we verbally deny our actions to those confronting us. I knew I had an issue, I knew that my addiction to pills was quickly worsening and eventually I’d have to upgrade to a stronger substance. Although I knew the consequences, I was not willing to stop. In the process I lost everything/everyone that mattered to me.
I’ve come across other active drug users who have also lost it all to their addiction. Some want to get clean to better themselves and their lives, while others don’t want to stop using at all regardless of their financial status or health issues. I get it, I really do. The withdrawal process is excruciating, so why go through it? People say “this wouldn’t happen if you’ve never started” or “just deal with it, it’s all in your head” and other ignorant statements. In the past, society had painted addiction in such a dark and gloomy color which stuck to this day. Being portrayed as a criminal and “zombie-like,” along with every stereotypical insult is something that will not change.
Yes, it’s 2021. Yes, it’s expected that people will be more understanding because of the many awareness campaigns posted around the internet and the rise of information and sensitivity towards health issues in this era.
BUT that negative stigma will always follow those who face addiction. From a personal standpoint it seems as if people are a lot more sympathetic towards alcoholism and almost any addiction that DOESN’T revolve around harder drugs (opiates, meth, crack cocaine).
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT asking for pity for my past self NOR for my fellow addicts. I refuse to fall into the “feel bad for me” pattern that many use as a baiting source to get more of an audience. I’ve always had strong opinions of sensitive topics and although I tell my story, I will always keep my thought 100% genuine and blunt.
Anyways, as I stated above: I’ve experienced many circumstances where people who faced and “overcame” alcoholism or their sex addiction, or whatever else, and the overall opinion people had towards them was unchanged. “Yeah okay, they love alcohol and drank too much but at least they’re sober now right? Cool let’s give them their job back.” But whenever a heroin addict would come clean about their addiction or would get caught for whatever reason, the response would be the exact opposite. We’re all programmed to hate “junkies” and taught that heroin users are demon-like. After I left my job at a certain financial institution, an ex-coworker wanted me to come back, so I thought about it. As our conversation continued she brought up certain situations where I would look sick or tired and asked if I was an addict. I admitted that I used opiates but I had started treatment and after hearing that her tone completely changed. The conversation ended and I never heard from her again, and the job? I wasn’t allowed back.
While working at an agency that employs lower class people or convicts who can’t work anywhere else, I noticed two things;
1. The majority of the employees were addicts
2. the many active users working there only a use this source of income specifically for drugs.
From opiate users to crack smokers, I’ve conversed with more than half and they all had the same goals; to move into apartments (because they are homeless), to take care of their families and to hopefully survive the shift until we finally get that daily paycheck so that they could get their fix.
Did you read that? I hope so. Yes, they may be addicts but they also have families.
OH and by the way, they get HUNGRY TOO. Human. Remember??
Or they’re homeless, hoping to save each $80 check and finally get an apartment or at least a hotel room instead of sleeping under a bridge.
Their lifestyle and seemingly distant dream of a life without struggle isn’t too different from the majority of those who live in America. Okay, maybe you don’t shoot up, sniff or smoke. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to not homeless, and have a well paying job. I mean, yeah I’ve been homeless and jobless, but I was fortunate enough to have enough support to better myself. Too many others are abandoned even before their addiction became an issue. For some, drugs and the cold sidewalk is all they know… in my city at least!
So the reason why you are similar to your addict brethren isn’t just because you’re human, live in the same planet or have similar interests outside of your lifestyles; the reason why you are similar, why WE are all similar is because of our struggles, our dreams and our purpose. Although our struggles vary, our dreams aren’t the same and we all may have different purposes or haven’t even realized ours’ yet, we were still put here for a reason. So why is it that, in 2021, people still follow the atrocious trend of treating addicts like shit? Labeling us and casting us aside? Taking away opportunities that others get just because they don’t have a self-destructive vice? Why is racism still an issue? Misogyny? LGBTQ+? All these groups of people have so much hate targeted against them and it’s 2021! 100 years ago people thought we’d have flying cars, instead we have hate. We have disgust and we judge. Instead of adapting to modern ideals, the bigoted learned how to adapt hate as a countermeasure against these new ideals for equality.
Addiction is an issue that will be around for decades to come. There is no cure and once we fall into the cold and unforgiving arms of addiction, it will hold on for the rest of our lives. Even WHEN you get clean, that tiny reminder in the back of our heads keeps the possibility of relapse alive.
To this day I still catch myself reminiscing and struggle to keep my composure. The thought of my favorite drug still lurks in the back of my mind. It seems like the first few months were easier to handle such a drastic change of lifestyle. Again, it’s now 2021 and no matter how long I’ve been sober, the many conversations I have with the people I meet always revolve around those common topics. Addiction and drug use has become so normalized and it seems like we all have our own “drug” to help us escape. As I stated before, alcoholism, prescription pill usage, marijuana use, sex, etc. is all normalized by today’s media and modern culture. People are finally comfortable enough to admit they have mental illness or some sort of challenge because of the awareness and sensitivity of this time. With that being said, companies, doctors, insurance companies etc. all adapted to said modern changes and use our mental illnesses and willingness to open up as a source of profit. From the purchase of weed at dispensaries or the refilling of Xanax from a prescription filled out by a certain doctor, money seems to be the only common denominator in the whole topic of addiction.
When I left that agency, I was given an amazing opportunity to work for a hospital where the patients are individuals with mental illness and addictions who await trial for whatever crime they may have committed. It seems like anywhere I go and anywhere I work, whether it be coworkers or clients/patients/customers, I am destined to interact with those who face the same issues as myself. Maybe this is my purpose? To help those in need, to influence clear decision making and to enlighten fellow addicts to hopefully guide them through the darkness that addiction blinds us with.
Working in an institution where I must help rehabilitate fellow addicts and patients with mental illness keeps these thoughts in my head. It could’ve been me in here if I continued to use drugs. I could’ve been in this “hospital” that resembles a prison if I didn’t decide to walk on the path to recovery. Even if I took a wrong turn. Shit, I being an addict in recovery, there’s still a chance I could end up here. The barbwire that surrounds this hospital resembles the bar wired fence that we must escape when battling addiction. Being strong enough to endure the pain and suffering and eventually escaping the prison we put ourselves in is possible with faith, a strong support system, and willpower.
As much as I’ve suffered all these years, I’m happy to finally be clean. I may have lost the one woman who mattered to me, but better days await ahead. I really hope those who read this can overcome their own demons so that they can all strive and prosper. Happy 2021 to everyone who has sat through another rant! And thank you, be good people 😊- Jay
Btw, feel free to buy my book on Amazon!! Fruits Of Addiction: A Pernicious Love
And I’m planning on doing a small, small, small contest. I haven’t thought of the prize nor the contest itself, but I plan on making it a cash prize!! I’ll keep y’all updated!