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Being 5 years clean now it seems so obvious to me that I am an addict. Of course it does; I have a history of using drugs addictively, getting obsessed with things easily and only a handful of years of learned coping skills to help manage my emotions. These are some of the classic traits to mark addiction. However, in a 12 step program, no one can identify anyone else as an addict- it must be a personal choice of self admittance. Flash back into my personal history and I can tell you how I came to admit that I was – and am – an addict.
I cannot remember a ‘lightbulb going off over my head’ moment or an “ah ha!” which happened during my active addiction when I truly self identified as an addict. It was absolutely a gradual progression over time when I began to see my use encompass all areas of my life.
Cynthia M. Kuhn Ph.D states, “Addiction is an overwhelming compulsion, based in alteration of brain circuits that normally regulate our ability to guide our actions to achieve goals. It overrides our ordinary, unaffected judgment. Addiction leads to the continued use of a substance or continuation of a behavior despite extremely negative consequences. An addict will choose the drug or behavior over family, the normal activities of life, employment, and at times even basic survival.” The drug and alcohol use began for me as experimental, social, and exciting and ended as debilitating, destructive and all encompassing.
As stated above, my compulsion to choose my drugs of choice grew to overrule in entirety my physical, mental, spiritual, financial and emotional well being. My physical health diminished as I would prioritize my usage over that of my health. My mental well being suffered as I became stuck in loops of deception and, at times, degradation. My spirituality disintegrated into only the frequent and desperate prayer asking for help to get me out of messes that I had made for myself. The finances became totally devoted to maintaining my habit and my emotions were shattered into categories of compounding guilt, fear or sadness.
I suppose you may be reading this and think “with those kinds of consequences, of course she was an addict- how could she not have known?” Funny thing about being an addict, no one is jumping at the gun to admit it. It is not a badge of honor or a title that every child dreams of having one day. It took some time for the reality to sink in and the evidence to pile up before I was able to accept it. After much heartache with dependency consuming me, I knew that I was addicted to substances – this was obvious – but it was only after I got clean that I was able to admit that I was an addict.
This statement may not make sense to someone who is not in recovery, so let me explain further. It is one thing to understand being currently addicted to something and it is another thing to admit that I am an addict with the disease of addiction who needs to combat it daily with recovery practices.
Today, even with 5 years clean, my addiction manifests in my ways of thinking and in my behaviors. I have a reward center in my brain that wants MORE of things. More money, more praise, more obsessive thoughts, more more more. So yes, even without drugs, I am an addict. For me, working a 12-step program has helped give me the tools and the community to help me through daily life. Some days are harder and some are much easier, but there is not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for these tools. For someone like me who has been where I have been, to have these resources at my disposal for when my addict thinking starts to take over, I am truly grateful. When I apply what I am practicing in my program I can work through what is going on in life and not fully succumb to my addictive thinking and thus end up back in active addiction.
So, if you came to read this blog for a definitive read on if you are an addict or not then I apologize for the lack of confirmation. It is not for me to tell you, it is only for me to share my story of how I came to admit that I am and perhaps have you relate to some of it. However, if you have read this far in the search for answers, then perhaps there is an acknowledgement that a problem may exist, and like Zig Ziglar said in the opening quote, that is the first step in solving that problem.
At Stairway Resource Center, we understand it’s difficult to admit that you need help, but acknowledging that you’re struggling with addiction and seeking help is a courageous step towards reclaiming control of your life. Contact us today, our dedicated team of experts has been carefully selected to provide exceptional treatment, ensuring that you or your loved one have the highest possible chance of achieving lasting recovery.
Director of Alumni and Case Management
Heidi has been working in the field of addiction for the past 4 years, has a RADT and moonlights as a blogger and Brainpaint Neurofeedback Technician. If asked, there is nothing in the recovery field that Heidi won’t do to learn more or to be of service to the newcomers.
As alumni and outreach coordinator, Heidi feels she has the unique opportunity to keep continuity in the community- even after people have finished their initial SUD programming.
Events range from seasonal activities, fundraisers, service events and special interest activities.
Heidi is excited to perpetually generate more community cohesiveness, fun & gratitude for others and herself.