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.
Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration green-lighted the release of several new time-released prescription painkillers. Among them was an extended-release narcotic hydrocodone derivative called Zohydro. In what is an uncharacteristic move for the organization, the FDA went against an advisory panel of experts in order to release the drug, sparking vigorous debate within the medical and pharmaceutical communities.
I was 17 years old when I tried heroin for the first time and 23 when it almost killed me. You can’t possibly understand the nightmare of heroin until you actually go through it; this was never knowledge that I wanted to experience on my own, but we get what we ask for. For about a year I was able to keep heroin at arm’s length, which is a lot longer than most people. Eventually it got the better of me and made me little more than a servant to my cravings. It was like someone else was in control of my body and doing things that I would have to live with for the rest of my life.
The news media is abuzz today with news that a coalition of health care, consumer advocacy, and addiction treatment groups has banded together under the name FED UP! to protest Zohydro, a new opioid painkiller from pharmaceutical corporation Zogenix.
New York legislators are grappling with how to deal with the plague of heroin that has been devastating suburban and rural youths statewide.
The state, like so many others, has been struggling against heroin for years, but the most recent development seems to be a cruel irony; poorer families, so long the greatest victims of the drug trade, are actually in a better position to get treatment for addicted family members.
A Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh study, soon to be published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, indicates that the portion of the teenage population that is at the greatest risk of alcoholism is not the illicit partygoers, but rather those teenagers that drink alone.
I had to stop to cry several times while I was writing this; but hopefully it will help others who are having a hard time getting help for alcohol addiction see that there is hope. They say now, that relapse is part of recovery. If that's the case, then I was in recovery for about eight years. I was the kid who never wanted to stop partying, until one day I turned into the man who couldn't. My twenties were spent getting and losing dead-end jobs, taking advantage of my parents' generosity and ill-advised faith, and fooling myself into thinking the next day was going to be different.
That I am able to sit here and tell my story is nothing short of a miracle. I spent two years putting my body through hellish torture, forcing it to adjust to my addition and desperately operate on survival mode in order to stay alive. They say meth never leaves you; that it stays in everything it touches, including your body forever. Luckily for me, that doesn't appear to be the case. Only by the grace of God, the wisdom and compassion of family who got me help for drug addiction and the amazing skill of my treatment doctors and therapists was I able to find that out.
If you're going to better, you can't be afraid. Fear will weaken you right out of the gate and you will need all of your strength to defeat such a strong adversary as alcohol addiction. I spent six years running from a better life because I was afraid of what I had to do to get there. Drinking was easy; drinking was safe; drinking was familiar. If nobody liked me when I was drunk, what did I care. There was no reasoning with me. If I was going to stop it would have to be through divine intervention or much more likely profound tragedy.
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