An Open Letter to My Addiction

June 12, 2012 Becky Oberg

Dear Addiction,

What can I say about you? I love you or I wouldn't be an addict--if I didn't love you I wouldn't turn to you to cope. Yet I hate you, because you're trying and sometimes succeeding at taking over my life. You take my money, you cost me opportunities to do something else instead of spend time with you, you take my mental and physical health, and you cause me to do some crazy things--even for a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Remember the time we made a drunken pass at a drag queen in a New York City transvestite bar? Or the time we stripped down and said we were going to paint our bodies and run around the neighborhood whooping like a Native American warrior? Yeah, funny, but embarrassing. You gave me what I thought was a good time, when all the time I was running from the infamous crash. In many ways I'm still running while you call to me like a lover.

Less humorously, remember all the times we risked citations for public intoxication or driving under the influence? Remember all the hospitalizations you helped contribute to, all the drunken psychiatric emergencies? Remember the four months I spent drying out at a state hospital in Richmond, Indiana, and the sheer hell I went through there because my addiction took priority over my mental illnesses? I haven't forgotten, you know. And I don't want to have it happen again.

We can't keep meeting like this. I have to learn to stand on my own two feet and fight my various mental illnesses and personality disorders. I have to take responsibility for my life and my actions, and I can't do that when you impair my judgment. Most of all, I have to learn to live without you.

I don't expect it to be easy. I didn't become addicted to alcohol and gambling overnight, so I don't expect to heal overnight. If it were easy to quit, everybody would and I wouldn't be in this apartment, listening to the temptation, writing this piece that's as much for me as for my readers. I don't know how many times I've quit before. But I know I can do it with help.

My therapist is teaching me how to talk back to you. She says that there are steps we go through between thinking about using and actually doing so. First it's a thought--we think about using. Then there's a trigger--we start to remember our use. After that there's a craving, when we deeply desire to use. Finally, there's the use, or relapse. The goal is to stop it as a thought.

One crisis counselor told me "Addiction is addiction is addiction." I disagree with that, because everyone has different triggers and traits. For example, I like to drink and gamble, but I can do just fine without sex, drugs, or other compulsive behaviors. But in a way she's right--addiction occurs when you can't live without "It", and the symptoms are the same.

So here we are at an impasse. I know I need to quit, I know I should quit, but I want to stay with you. But you're a lousy lover--if you were human, you'd be abusive, and I'd be a victim. But instead I'm an addict who wants both to quit and to use. I'm torn between the two.

I envy those who seem to quit with almost no effort. I feel like all my time and effort go to dealing with you. That's normal, though--that's why you're an addiction and not a habit. Habits are relatively easy to quit. Addiction is a lifelong battle. It's one I didn't choose to fight, but it's one I have to fight or die.

It's ultimately up to me,

Becky Oberg

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2012, June 12). An Open Letter to My Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 21 from

Author: Becky Oberg

Teresa Patton
June, 14 2012 at 6:22 am

That was a very moving piece. I am 37 days sober. You can do it too. Its a hard, long fight, trust me. I had gotten sick and didnt crave my drug at all, and I thought to myself, right now, is the time to quit. The temptations are fierce sometimes, but I stuck with it. But, i am afraid that one day, I will give in, and it scares me. I wish you the best of luck. :)

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