You have no idea how devilish it makes you feel’:  Former opioid user talks recovery


“As a recovering woman, I have personally suffered the scorn of others who are confused, bitter and misled about addiction. I still today get the reaction of how could a nice person like me be an alcoholic. It is hard not to take it personally when I read public opinion polls of both professionals and the general public who believe addiction to be a moral weakness rather than a disease. How could people still believe this in the year 2002?”     First Lady Betty Ford

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to that believe that their stellar parenting is the reason why they have no need to fear, or really even think about, addiction issues. The real facts are that addiction has plagued mankind for centuries, and despite our lengthy relationship with substance abuse disorders and we have yet to adequately address the issue. Deaths from addiction are staggering among the millennial generation but the rates of addiction causing death for those of us who are over 40 is equally alarming. It can start ever so innocently, a root canal, minor surgery, an accident, insomnia, or even complications from childbirth.

In the past 20 years there has been a shift in our understanding of addiction and the concept of recovery has thankfully emerged, but stigma is still the main reason that an addict does not seek treatment. We live in a time of great hope where addiction has been officially recognized as a physical disorder and not a moral failing. Today there are probably as many recovery programs as there are addicts. Some have a cookie cutter approach, prescribed set of rules, religious or philosophical imperative, while others operate like a spa or summer camp. With so many options it can be very hard to choose, but often location and cost are the determining factors.

There are no two people who will follow the same recovery path. Everyone is the product of unique experiences and each has processed their experience in a different way. I grew up in the same house as my brother and sister and if you talked to each of us about our childhoods you would have a very different impression of our family life. One may see an incident as benign and another may be profoundly injured. No trauma should ever be considered negligible, no one’s suffering should be underestimated, especially when that person might have been yourself! Some of us have endured physical or emotional trauma at a time when we were too young, or too confused, to process the event.  We may not even be consciously aware of the driving force behind our discontent.

Regardless of where you come from you need to relearn healthy habits and routines, develop new strategies to combat triggers and old patterns. You will have to let go of some negative relationships and embrace new ones with people who share your new passions and purpose. The process of rediscovering who you really are is an adventure that not everyone has an opportunity to experience, it’s the brilliant silver lining of a very dark cloud.