Have you ever wondered about repeat offenders? It is not uncommon to hear about folks who get in legal trouble for using drugs or alcohol, and instead of remaining sober, they go back out and use again. It is difficult to understand how someone can keep engaging in the same behavior after losing everything. Repeat offenders are often called selfish and ungrateful. But what if the opposite is true? What if repeat offenders need compassion just like everyone else?
I left the UK to undergo alcohol treatment in South Africa, so it was inevitable that this would alter my perspective somewhat. However, after spending more time in this new environment, several striking realizations about the UK's negative relationship were crystal clear. After talking to numerous people from the same country and background, there was a common thread of early exposure to alcohol having long-lasting consequences. In short, I learned that teenage drinking can lead to addiction.
I was thinking back to my high school days. In particular, a memory of a talk in the school hall about the danger of harder drugs told by a recovering addict. That's where the term "gateway drug" became part of my vocabulary, specifically in relation to cannabis. This gateway drug idea was true on my part -- I firmly embraced the culture of marijuana at a young age. But my first drug encounter was with alcohol at the tender age of 13.
Writing has always been a healthy outlet for me to process and express my feelings. I have been writing since I was a young girl, and it has helped me through some of the darkest periods in my life. Throughout my time writing for HealthyPlace, I have had some incredible personal breakthroughs and have been able to connect with many others who battle similar demons. However, my path has taken me in a different direction, and I am saying a final goodbye to my readers within the "Debunking Addiction" blog.
Addiction is lonely, even when it is convincing you otherwise. In all honesty, I have not been feeling inspired to write lately. I have had a lot of self-doubt in my work and have been dealing with a lot of emotional baggage in my mind. I have lost touch with my true purpose, and what have I done to cope? I've self-medicated with drugs and alcohol in an attempt to ease my mind from the millions of thoughts anxiety naturally gives me.
The number of times I have woken up after a binge-drinking episode and said to myself, "I am not drinking this weekend," or even bolder, "I am never drinking again," just to find myself back at the liquor store a few days later could be considered humorous. I have experienced feelings of shame and embarrassment many times after breaking that promise to myself and having a binge-drinking relapse. It has taken a lot of self-work to reach this point, and not all days feel this way, but I now hold self-compassion close to my heart, even during a binge-drinking relapse, and I encourage you to too.
Lately, I have experienced a few uncomfortable conversations with some of my nonaddicted friends questioning the strength and tenacity of recovering addicts. I imagine the concepts and struggles of behavioral and substance addictions seem quite confusing to those who have never fought these horrific demons firsthand. I grew up in a home with addiction, so prior to experiencing this for myself, I also had a lot of questions and confusion around the topic of addiction. However, now I can truthfully say with confidence that recovering addicts are likely some of the strongest and most capable people you will ever meet in your life.
As someone who has not only personally experienced addiction recovery but has also worked as an addiction professional, I know all about the idolization of the sacred sobriety date. However, if you've followed this blog for long, you've probably noticed that I've never given my exact sobriety date or the precise weeks, months, or days I've been free from my addiction. This is because I really don't honor the sacred sobriety date like so many others do in addiction recovery. I have no ill will towards those who do participate in this ritual, but I've learned over time that it just isn't my thing.
As a recovering addict, I know just how daunting it can be to prepare for the summer party season. From miscellaneous pool parties, summer weddings, and all the various holidays that fall throughout the summer months, this time of year can be challenging for those of us with a history of addiction.
As a recovering behavioral addict, I have encountered numerous unexpected addictive substances in my recovery. Many individuals assume for a substance to be addictive that it must be either illegal or inherently dangerous, but this isn't always the case. Throughout my recovery, I have learned about substances of all types, some of which appear to be completely harmless at first glance. My hope is that this post will be helpful for other recovering addicts to learn about possible unexpected addictive substances that might catch them off guard.