Thursday, July 12, 2012

Illusion of Recovery

I came to an interesting realization yesterday about myself, concerning addiction and recovery.  I'm not always quick on the uptake about learning things about myself, I've spent a lifetime trying to hide from me to the point that I have no idea who I really am.  Really obvious stuff - obvious to others anyway - comes to me slowly.

Anyway, I was reading an account of a fellow heroin addict and he made the statement that his recovery attempts were really only him setting his tolerance level back at zero again so that he could once again use and have a 'proper high'.  That he wasn't interested in getting clean for keeps, he only wanted to take occasional breaks from using so that he could come back to drugs again and he'd get that new novel feeling all over again from them.  Like falling in lust with a new lover.

I read that over and over and it made me wonder, is that what I've been doing all of this time, too?  It really was like an epiphany moment, this new way of looking at my life.  Do I really want to recover, or has this unconscious agenda been there all the time, guiding my choices, my repeated relapses?  I've been thinking on this ever since and trying to analyze whether this is the case with me or not.  I truly do not know.

I don't like what addiction has made my life.  I think about using heroin all the time.  All the time.  It's always there, hovering in the back of my mind like a fly waiting to land on a piece of shit.  I think back to the misery of active using, the panic, stress, sickness, and the person I become when needing a fix....willing to do anything, hurt anyone, to get money.  I make myself remember the physical and mental agony of lying there in bed after waking in the morning, dopesick, with no money and desperate for a fix before I shit my pants.  And even with those memories, I still want it, always.  It is insidious, the pull it has on my mind.  Probably because the only times in my life where I felt an ounce of peace, calm, and happiness was when high on heroin, and my brain is desperate to feel that way again.

The longest consecutive period of time I ever had completely clean and sober was 4 years.  In all that 4 years time of going to meetings, reading recovery and self help books, living life, I never felt peace, calm, or happiness.  I faked that I did because that was what was expected of me.  I smiled and laughed like a robot, right on que.  I had none of the feelings of surrender and acceptance that other addicts talk about feeling while doing the steps.  I don't believe there is some magical higher power that can whisk these feelings away from me; or into me, however you want to look at it.  It was 4 years of white knuckling it, full of depressing, suicidal thoughts despite the ever changing cocktail of antidepressants I was on.

What is wrong with me that I haven't had those same feelings that other addicts do in recovery?  What am I doing, or not doing, that prevents me from wanting to keep on with it?  Has my brain become so permanently rewired from years of opiate use that its impossible to ever feel happy again without them?  I want to feel what other people feel.  If recovery means more years of white knuckling it, always feeling depressed and angry and not quite right, I don't know if I want it.  I don't want the misery that the addict lifestyle brings either so I'm fucked both ways.

I know what I'll be told - better to be depressed and angry but clean, instead of happy and in danger of dying or ending up in jail.  A rational mind would say so, but an addict's mind isn't rational.  I know this also sounds like I'm setting it up to justify a relapse, which isn't necessarily true.  Even on my best days I'm an inch away from relapse.  Just needed to get out what has been circling around my head about all of this - this new idea that deep down I may have no intention of ever really staying clean from opiates.  It's heady, this idea, and I don't know how I feel about it.


  1. I am not nor have I ever been an addict. So I have no real conception of what it is. I know what I think it is, but alas that is based on tv and movies for the most part.

    However, I can appreciate this train of thought. I kind of get it. Yes clean is better, BUT at the forfeit of any sense of calm or happy... SHIT. It truly may be a catch 22. *sigh* if only magic wands were real. =(

    1. Thank you for reading my friend. If I ever find a magic wand I'll send one your way too.

  2. Everyone has always told me that it didn't work for me because I didn't submit to the steps and because I cannot come to grips with the higher power aspect of it all. I basically found what you did in recovery, though I also had some wonderful, fun times.
    I still think about taking handfuls of pills, but the few times I tolerance level was right back to where it was before, and it literally took handfuls of pills to get me high. And that pissed me off!

    Regardless of all of my silly babble, I am so glad to see you writing again.
    And, I'm always here ♥

    1. You have your husband and kids too, which I think helps you more than you imagine. Love you sweetie.

  3. I am not an addict, as such. I have never used nor craved an opiate. I do, however, use and crave tobacco. Not the same, you say? I'm not sure about that. Doctors tell us either can kill us. I have quit hundreds of times. Never for more than a few months. Usually for a few weeks.
    My point is that I could quit, I could, but I haven't because I have never really wanted to. When I do want to, I believe I will. I believe it will be a challenge, but it will happen.
    Having said that, Steven, I am also the daughter of an alcoholic and the mother of a drug abuser and I had a son-in-law who is addicted to both alcohol and drugs. I have some experience from the close outside, loving the addict and hating the behavior.
    The one thing I see in your writing that none of the recovering addicts in my life shared is your lack of faith. In God, or the universe or whatever name you give it. Is that the key? Maybe it is. Maybe believing there is always someone who will hold you up when you think you cannot get through one more moment. Maybe believing that nearly constant pull of the drug of choice will never go away is because you have no one to hand that over to. With a strong faith you could believe it is possible to give it to God. Perhaps that is the weakness which is pulling you and making you doubt your ability and in fact your desire to stay clean.
    I do believe my son is alive and clean today because he knew alone he was helpless, but with God all things are possible. I believe he is right.
    I also believe when I am really ready to quit smoking forever, I will be able to do it because God will take that craving from me and give me the strength to see it through.

    I am happy for each day you have chosen to be clean because each day is another blessing to you and all who love you.

    1. Thank you for this comment Jo, I think you're right, but I still can't bring myself to believe that some mythical person in the sky will swoop in to save the day. I wish I could believe, I really do. It would solve all sorts of problems.

      Cigarette addiction is a very valid have the advantage though because they're legal, (mostly)socially acceptable, and you're able to function as a normal human being while smoking. But the pull, the craving, can be comparable to a craving for drugs. Hell, nicotine is a drug too. Even in AA and NA, nicotine and caffeine has an 'all clear' and gets a free pass, which I think is funny and hypocritical. I do hope you feel ready to quit one day.

  4. This is a good write! There's no way I can say I understand what you're going through, but I do know how long it has taken me to be able to say, "I love my life." I can't even tell you a magical formula for getting here, but I believe that anyone can. I wonder if you aren't expecting too much from sobriety... But like I said, I don't completely understand. HUGZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I get your notices late so I am late replying. Addictions are like that they never go away and the line like falling in lust with a new lover hit home for me. I was totally thrilled to see this notification. You wrote and that is a blessing