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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I celebrated 9 years a week ago. I am now sober longer than I have used Crystal Meth. At nine years my recovery is going "fine." Just fine; not swimmingly. Once upon a time it would have been the latter, but I have succumbed to a complacency and self-indulgence that -- at the very least -- erodes my pristine happiness. Now food and tele have taken the place of lighting up and trolling about for sex. It's a terrible thing, though not as bad as active CM addiction.

It feels as if I always have to have some compulsion waiting in the wings: sex, the internet, food, tele have all had their days. I have never been convinced that there is such a thing as an addictive personality, but these behaviors are clear evidence of my addictive personality. What would I be doing if I were not insulating myself in an adipose shell or isolating myself with Arthur Strong or iZombie? I suppose I'd be reading, socializing, going to the gym, attending meetings. Almost anything seems a better use of my time.

And yet showing up for life means waking up. I am the chronic teenager grumbling and moaning about school at 7:30 am. The thoughts that arise for the awakened Chase are thoughts of aging, illness, loneliness and loss. Watching tele in the man-cave is a bit like using in that there is the illusion of suspended animation. What I liked about drugs was that they seemed to make time stop. All my worries diluted in the sensation of the present moment.

Certain spiritual teachers would have us live always in the present moment. I find such a view overwhelming. The present moment is a dirty window, a smudged glass -- at any moment the illusion of stillness may shatter. The Buddhist view is that anything the mind creates or perceives is an illusion and that stillness (in the form of meditation) is our only gateway to what the German Idealists would have called "the thing in itself."

Perhaps the thing in itself, once the surface illusion is peeled away, is anxiety pure and simple: tension without direction; restlessness without remedy. Sometimes I feel like a shark; if I am not swimming I cannot breathe. We used to tell addicted patients that every step that does not impel one forward is a step backward. Recovery abhors inertia.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Girls with childhoods like mine don’t live long and they don’t grow up to become doctors. They die young and if they happen to stay alive, they end up in prison or living on the streets forever. I grew up in a family infected with incest that can be traced as far back as my genealogy extends. I was not protected or safe in my own home. Like thousands of young girls before me, I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape.

By 14, I was hooked on meth. I didn’t have the luxury of wealthy parents which meant I had to commit crimes and offer my body to men more than twice my age to stay high. I spent my adolescence immersed in the child welfare system, living in and out of foster homes, juvenile facilities, treatment centers, and the streets. Every junkie has a story and I have mine. Suffice it to say that I have paid my dues in that world and paid heavily. After a violent rape that nearly killed me, I vowed in the hospital that nobody would ever look at me with the disgust and revulsion that the doctors and police officers did that day. I have remained committed and true to my promise.

Today, I stand as a woman who’s risen above the darkness. I live free of chemicals and the obsession to use them. I can’t remember the last time I committed a crime or considered killing myself. I put in years of hard work to earn the privilege of being called Dr. Garrison and have dedicated my last ten years to helping others.

I’ve lived my life one step away from becoming a statistic. The question I get asked most frequently is “What advice do you have for others in your situation?” Here’s what I know about beating the odds.

1. Your labels don’t define you

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Addiction Memoir Quotes

Just a few years ago, Jason Smith was lying in his bathtub, the blood slowly draining from his slit wrists. Now he is here to tell us how he reached the point of suicide after his long, dark descent into prescription opiate abuse. The Bitter Taste Dying is a story of resurrection told by an author who has literally come back from the black grip of death.

Today’s junkies are not just on the street corner anymore. Big Pharma are the suppliers, and doctors are the pushers, cultivating (perhaps inadvertently, but that’s debatable) a massive population of addicts from all demographics.

After a severe car accident, Smith has back surgery and is given a perpetual menu of painkillers and muscle relaxers by his physicians. It doesn’t take long for the high schooler to realize that by taking more than the recommended dosage, he could obtain the warm, euphoric mental and physical comfort only opiates can bring. But all too soon he also discovers the pangs of withdrawal whenever his medication runs out.

If anyone has difficulty understanding what an addict feels like, Smith describes it with painful accuracy.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

If you want to tell the truth, it's best to do so in a story. 

I think that's what I've done here with my short story "The Damage Done." It is a grim, horrific tale, but one that demonstrates the lengths addicts will go to when under the throes of cravings. The manipulations. The obsession. The desperation. It is also a tale of how a family legacy of addiction can be so haunting.  Enjoy this short, quick read. The title is based on the Neil Young Song, "The Needle and The Damage Done" and it's a precursor to the heroin addiction story MILK-BLOOD

  

The Damage Done

Jervis Samsa lay awake on his bed, twitching in and out of detox dreams. Poison sweat ran from his pores and dampened the sheets. He wanted to scratch and itch away at the flesh that covered him and then rip out the muscles that cramped in pain. The lifeblood was gone from his veins. No dope for a day now. Not since yesterday when he popped a vein with Tara, and he hoped she’d return with some cash but never did. Now he had nothing.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

(Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Depressed_%284649749639%29.jpg)

 

Rebuilding your life as a recovering addict is not easy. There are many facets to the recovery process including rebuilding personal health, self-esteem and relationships that have been damaged by addiction.

Some recovering addicts require vocational supports to help them address employment needs. Depending on the individual, their career opportunities may be limited due to drug related misdemeanor or felony convictions. For others, finding employment that they are qualified for in a compassionate environment that provides ongoing support is difficult. While programs exist, the average employer may be less willing to hire someone with prior drug convictions even after they have stabilized and recovered.

There are many stigmas and assumptions about hiring addicts and the prejudice can further complicate an individual’s recovery. Recent surveys have disclosed that employers should be less concerned about hiring a new recovering addict and more focused on evaluating which current employees may need help with illicit drug addictions.

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