A Facebook friend suggested that I write a little more about addiction. I would like to discuss the effects on the addict, and family of the addict in this post. my personal feelings on dealing with addiction from both viewpoints may be valuable.
Addiction in any form is painful for addict and family alike. I would like to discuss this from an addicts perspective to start out with.
My addiction, like most started out slowly. I had started out with marijuana as a teenager, which at the time seemed like no big deal. There have been many discussions over the years whether pot should be considered a gateway drug. I think yes to some degree, in the sense that once you’ve given yourself permission to try drugs, any drug, others aren’t far off.
My parents smoked pot, and at times sold it, so access was easy. Pot made me feel good, it was something that my friends and I did together. Getting high is fun. Getting high is an escape that only years later I was able to examine.
I moved to Colorado at 17 and continued to party with alcohol, marijuana, and added in cocaine recreationally. Little did I know that my friends in Utah we’re doing the same, at a much higher (no pun intended) level. When I returned home at the age of 21 cocaine was readily available, free, and popular. I was free from a horrifically abusive relationship in Colorado, and drugs were a welcome escape.
I started dating an old friend within a year of arriving home and swiftly became pregnant in late 1991. My drug and alcohol consumption stopped completely. In July of 1992 I gave birth to a perfect and healthy son. I was overjoyed, I would have the family I’d longed for after all. I picked up drinking fairly swiftly after his birth, not to excess, but regularly. My partner at the time drank quite a bit and our relationship was turbulent and abusive when alcohol was involved. I left when my son was 6 months old.
I didn’t know at the time but I’d left while pregnant with my second child. Because of my irresponsibility, and continued drinking, I found out I was pregnant at 5 months along. I quit smoking and drinking immediately. I am beyond grateful that my daughter was born healthy.
I married my high school sweetheart and current husband shortly after the birth of my daughter in July of 1995. We were working on our first home and used cocaine together regularly for the long nights of remodeling the house to be inhabitable. When the house was done we continued to drink, use, and try to be decent parents. My husband eventually saw this was unhealthy and quit. I continued, and a friend at the time introduced me to crank. Better high, longer, cheaper. I was hooked. I did not understand that the drug I was ingesting was a form of meth. I was happy to be losing pregnancy weight, have energy, and convinced myself I was a better parent with my use.
I became so dependant on meth that functioning without it became impossible. I used daily, I was unfaithful to my husband with anyone who would use with me, I pawned my kids off with family often. I pawned my husband’s tools, I sold drugs to maintain my habit, I never slept, my house was in disarray, I lost my hair, weighed 83 pounds, and still justified my addiction. I wasn’t like those losers who were shooting it and smoking it. I was fine. I looked great in my mind.
I became pregnant with my youngest child during this time, and somehow cold turkied my way to her birth. I immediately started using again once she was born. After all I told myself, I need it to handle 3 small kids under 6. My husband had had it.
I couldn’t quit. I was in the midst of a full on addiction. How dare he try to tell me what to do. How dare he say it’s a problem. I hated him.
On December 15th 1998 my father died of an overdose, my sister was in residential treatment for her heroin addiction, and I was plummetting towards death, divorce, and losing my children. I had to go to Denver to bury my father. I managed to not use through this trip. Boy did I fool everyone. Look how fucked up everyone except me is..
On December 26th I drove my car up Emigration canyon, ingested 300 Valium, washed down with Robitussin, a large amount of meth and convinced myself that my family was better off. I woke up 9 hours later and drove to a payphone. I was taken to the hospital, stomach pumped, and swiftly committed to the mental health ward. I was furious.
January 1st 1999 is my clean date. I came home and never used again. I am alive. My husband stuck with me. He loves me. It has taken years to forgive myself, many tears and apologies, and days when I wax poetic about my love of cocaine. Never meth.
My point of view on addiction has changed. I am angry at my father. He won’t know my kids. I miss him. I hate him. I am disappointed in him. My sister as of this writing is still using, is selling what she has available to continue her addiction to heroin. I have spoken to her maybe twice in the last 3 years. Every time the phone rings I am scared. Every activity and accomplishment I can’t share with her is painful. I miss her. I will lose her. Being on the other side is hard, I now pick up the emotional tab for the people in my family still enveloped in addiction. I am angry. Addicts are users, manipulators, liers, thief’s, and care little for how their actions effect others. Who knows this better than me. I was them.
My life is extraordinary. I am so blessed to have been able to be a mother to my children, none of who use. I am so thankful. Most of all I know that if you can win against the addiction demons, a beautiful life is waiting for you on the other side. A life an addict can’t imagine, not perfect but feeling everything. There is help. Please have strength if you’re in the crisis of addiction. Please know that there are people who won. I did.