The money we have spent, taken away from other priorities to buy our drugs, our life-sustaining medicine as we see it in active addiction, can be nauseating. We may have stolen from loved ones, forged checks, taken valuables, even committed thefts of people we don't know, stealing from stores to exchange goods for money, possibly exchanging your body for drugs or money, losing a job or not looking for a job because you need your days and nights to chase drugs, the financial funding of our addiction can absolutely be an issue giving us extreme guilt and shame. And that is just one.
The emotions and opinions of our loved ones, who are sick with worry, consumed with fear, and looming with disappointment, is something we may think can never be fixed or changed, that people will forever think ill of us for what we have inflicted on others. The health effects of active addiction can be shocking. Infections of the skin or limbs, infectious diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis, not eating right or eating at all, and the long-term effects throughout our body's systems from the drug itself, can lead to lifetime battles that cannot be reversed. Legal problems, arrests, convictions, incarceration, tears apart your family, soils your record which will follow you through life, affecting employment, child custody battles, divorce, loss of assets; it is a devastating consequence of addiction. The guilt you feel as a parent, if you have lost custody, your drug use known to the courts, barriers put in place making it a challenge to be up against even when in recovery for a long period, can be overwhelming. These are all extremely stressful results of our addiction that can provide us with enough guilt and shame to last our lifetime, even when in recovery. Many addicts succumb to these difficult consequences and effects of our addiction, and decide to remain in active addiction, for they see it as impossible to overcome these obstacles that are a result of our drug use. It is easy to look at the big picture and think nothing can be done about the damage, so we crumble and relent.
Once we start acknowledging these affects and accrue years of shame and guilt, it becomes habit to think negatively about ourselves, place blame on ourselves and have little to no respect at all for ourselves. This is the mindset of a typical addict. It is easy when we have to deal with such consequences , to lose sight of it being a disease that we have. It is also the reason society loses sight of addiction being a disease as well. It very well may be that addiction is the only disease to affect so many areas of our life beyond that of our physical and psychological health. It is indeed difficult and there are enormous challenges to face in recovery, some for more than for others, but no doubt a major aspect of an addict when pondering the decision of whether or not to attempt recovery and sobriety. This is why in order to succeed in recovery, it is crucial to believe and develop the mindset of being worthy of help, being worthy of treatment and being worthy of a better life. Achieving this belief and having love for ones self starts with addressing your own self-esteem and self-worth. To change a pattern of thinking that has become habit, therefore natural, cannot happen without change and effort, a commitment to caring about ones self enough to seek help.
Accepting that we cannot change what our addiction has caused, but we can change what it will continue to cause. You have the power to stop your addiction in its tracks and change the course of your life, the consequences of your addiction and the effects on your family and your health. This acceptance has to take place for a person to want help and accept help, to enter recovery and become clean and sober. It cannot be forced upon a person; it has to be a decision based on acceptance and a willingness to change. An addict has to be able to see that they do in fact have a future and that their future can be better and more fulfilling than the past, which is within their control if they allow people to help them become well.
This requires the focus to be on the present and future instead of the past. You can acknowledge and have sorrow for the negative consequences which have occurred, but wallowing in it and allowing yourself to be consumed by it has to stop. You have to focus on what needs to happen today, to enter recovery, enter treatment, become clean and sober, and set goals for the future that are attainable and healthy. This IS possible. This change of attitude and focus IS within you. As many addicts know, there is practically nothing that will magically make us clean. We have to decide that we alone want this, that we deserve this and that we want to live a healthier, more fulfilling life. As a parent, people believe that our children should be enough reason for us to stop using drugs and get clean, but this is not the reality, as many, if not most addicts are parents.