Addiction is a condition of isolation.

“Dr. Christian Proulx knows all too well how an opioid addiction can rip apart communities and lead people to do unimaginable things in order to feed their habit. The family physician not only prescribed the powerful pain medication to patients at his thriving practice in St. Catharines, but he also became addicted to them. The doctor, who practised medicine in Port Colborne and St. Catharines, was prescribed pain medication after the removal of an infected wisdom tooth. Before long, he was hooked.”

It creeps up slowly, but once it gets hold, it can bring down anyone and it changes everyone. Have you heard anyone say, “you can tell when an addict is lying because their lips are moving”? Unfortunately, it’s true for most people who find themselves addicted. Lying and addiction go hand in hand along with other attitudes and strategies to keep it all secret. We begin with lying to ourselves, creating conditions where we can give ourselves permission to keep using. Sadly, isolation is the most disastrous condition of addiction and the absolute worst position for recovery. In fact, recovery can’t happen in isolation, recovery needs connection. Connection with others who understand addiction. Recovery is about being accountable and taking action.

Being accountable isn’t as easy as it sounds. Addiction changes a person in ways that are not easy to see and even harder to change. This is one of the reasons why I believe that only another addict can truly comprehend the behaviour. For instance, what do addicts lie about? How often they’re using, just weekends, never before five. What they’re really using, just weed, just beer, just smoking never shooting. Whether or not they’ve had bad experiences or repercussions from using like losing their job, wrecking their car, blowing up your relationships. Doing illegal stuff to support their habit, selling drugs, stealing. The biggest lie, the one we tell ourselves, is that we can control our use. Unfortunately, because of the shame and stigma, admitting to being an addict only happens when it gets really, really bad. So bad that we require intervention to save our lives.

Honestly, nobody wants to be an addict, nobody wants to lose control, and nobody is excited to give up any lifestyle accoutrements that many of us enjoy regularly without consequence. These are some of the penalties of addiction that only other addicts can truly understand. Therapy is great for sure if you’re able to find a good therapist, and can afford their fees, I have no doubt they can help you find your way, but they don’t replace building honest relationships with other people in recovery. I think of it like the difference between theory and practice. It’s good to know the theory but without practice the theory is rather useless. Community involvement makes all the difference. Addiction changes a person in ways that aren’t immediately noticeable, but they are extraordinary and extremely challenging to address. Taking on the challenge of recovery is nothing short of a rebirth really. The difficulty might be underestimated by some and that’s why I honestly believe that in this case it most certainly ‘takes one to know one’. Communicating and building relationships with others who face similar challenges plays an essential role in the addiction recovery process.

Read more: Why is prayer important?, What are “concurrent disorders”? Why can’t they just STOP?, Are you being supportive or are you an “enabler”?, or Honestly, we all lie!