Addiction Does Not Discriminate…
Today is my anniversary. I am one year free from opiate addiction—from drugs; drugs I took with and without a prescription. I am a drug addict.
I didn’t choose to be a drug addict; my brain is just different than yours. It is missing some of the things that a healthy non-addicted person’s brain has.
Have I used drugs and alcohol recreationally? Absolutely. But when I did, my brain went off in a whole new direction. Later in life, health problems created a need for multiple operations, and I was given a prescription for “medicine” in a little orange bottle. I was not the first to be given a prescription to remain comfortable during a healing process.
There are people whose brains function normally, who take this medication as prescribed, stay comfortable while their bodies heal, and then move on with their lives.
I was not this lucky. My brain could not let go. I could not – would not – move on. My mind told me I needed more or I would die. I didn’t want to die, so I took more…and more and more, until more wasn’t enough.
I did not wish to grow up and become a drug addict. I wanted to be an anesthesiologist or a medical examiner. Instead, I settled for whatever I could manage while surviving drug addiction. Trying desperately to appear like a normal person—trying to live a double life.
You would have seen a regular girl, a regular employee—a regular mom. I worked very hard to hide the horrible person I thought I was. The junkie—the loser; that weak woman who couldn’t stop no matter how badly she wanted to, or how strong she thought she was.
Today, 365 days free of drugs, I am just starting to believe that I’m actually stronger than I thought I was. It’s just that opiates are stronger. Any drug (alcohol included) is stronger when you have a brain like mine.
Alcoholics Anonymous calls it an allergy. Dictionary.com defines an allergy as, “…an abnormal reaction of the body to a previously encountered substance introduced by inhalation, ingestion, injection or skin contact that manifest in various negative ways…” Or “..hypersensitivity to the reintroduction of an allergen…” I became, hypersensitive to a previously encountered substance, and the reaction manifested adverse reactions. As I said earlier, I never did become that doctor I’d hoped to, but that certainly sounds like a valid explanation to me.
We are in the grips of a deadly epidemic of mind-blowing proportions, and people are dying every day.
People! Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors, doctors and lawyers, black and white, Christians and atheists, young and old.
Addiction does not discriminate. You are fooling yourself if you think not me, or not my kid. The idea that people are “nothing but piece of crap junkies,” or that we should “just let them die, because they made the choice to do drugs,” is the reason I’m writing this. These are the kind of comments that keep people hiding in their addictions, and stop them from seeking treatment.
I read an article about a horrible situation involving a child with addicted parents. It was a sad, horrible story all the way around, but it was the hatred directed at these people—the hatred towards addicts—in the comments under the article that got to me. HATE. It’s such a strong word, but its presence was palpable. It jumped off the page and felt like a punch in the gut. I wondered how someone could feel so much hatred toward someone they don’t even know. How someone could feel that much hatred toward a sick and suffering human being.
I understand that addicts are capable of, and usually do, really horrible things. I know I did. I wonder if those people think I should have died. I’m a daughter, a sister, and a mother. I love to paint and draw and to read and play with my kids. I love the beach, the mountains, and taking vacations… but I’m also a drug addict.
There are people who won’t ever see all the regular, human qualities I possess…because I’m a drug addict.
There are apparently many people who think my life doesn’t matter because I’m no different or better than the addicts in that article. What happened to them could’ve just as easily happened to me before I got treatment. In fact, it still could happen to me! Just because I got help and currently have the support needed to stay free from active addiction doesn’t mean that couldn’t be me, if I stopped doing what I need to for my recovery. My brain has not miraculously morphed itself into a healthy “normal” one and will be again ravaged by drugs if I ever use again.
There may have been times in my life where I questioned whether my life was worth living, but today I know it is. Today I believe everyone is worthy of life. I also know that I don’t have the right to decide whether someone should live or die…and neither do you.
This post was submitted by Kasey Jaynes.
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A Sober Mommies Contributor is most often a non-professional – in and out of recovery – with reality-based experience to share about motherhood & active addiction, the multiple pathways to recovery, or a family member’s perspective.