A Taste of Victory

When I was in treatment I had a lot of time to thinking about exactly how I wanted to live my life. At first, I lamented the fact that, at 36, my best years seemed to be way behind me; but then I realized that I couldn’t spend the second part of my life wishing I had the first to live over again. I think living in the past is an incredibly dangerous mistake and the cause of relapse for a lot of people. You can go mad thinking about the damage you caused when you were addicted or you can accept the reality that the person who did those things wasn’t really you and move on. In other words, learn; don’t wallow.

I was lucky that I got help for drug addiction before the cocaine I’d been abusing did any real damage to my mind or body. I had a lot of friends that weren’t so lucky. I was 34 when I realized I needed help; but I kept falling down until I got residential treatment. I tried every “alternative” you can think of, including cold-turkey, and just kept relapsing. I felt like a patient who thought he could outrun a bad prognosis if he just kept telling himself that everything was ok. Eventually, however, it was impossible to deny that I was addicted.

I waited a long time to get treatment because I was afraid that if it didn’t work, I would have nothing left to try. My worst nightmare-worse than anything I experienced during addiction-was realizing that I was completely out of options and that recovery was hopeless. Even though I know now that a lot of people relapse even under the best of circumstances, I couldn’t live with another failure at that point. I entered treatment, unsure of my future or what would happen if I relapsed one more time.

The first night of detox was a pivotal night, not only in my addiction recovery; but in my life in general. I was experiencing particularly fierce cravings and was actually getting ready to leave to go get more coke when a nurse convinced to just stay the night and see if I could get through it. I hardly slept a wink; but when the sun came up, I was still alive. This meant a lot…in fact it meant everything. It was the first measure of freedom I’d been able to experience for a long time. I thought to myself that if the rest of my life could be like that one night, things would work out.

Since leaving treatment, life has come to be like that one night more than I ever thought possible; a journey more rewarding with each passing day. It’s been a little less than two cocaine-free years and I’ve learned to regard life as a series of small victories. This makes withdrawal a lot more palatable and helps keep me focused on my staying in the moment. 

Contact the National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center (NASAIC) anytime toll-free at (800) 784-6776 or through our online form, and we will recommend the leading drug and alcohol rehab centers for you or your loved one.

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