Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Justify or Not to Justify: How to Keep Your Conscious From Bothering You (you hope!!)

After much aggravation, frustration and cussing, my Internet connection is up and running again. Thanks to those who read my last blog from the other day and sent messages. It was great to see people react to my story like they did. At least I know someone is reading this stuff. Sorry that I wasn’t able to respond to each one of those messages, but with my Internet connection being crappy, I had a hard time checking my email; much less add to my blog.

I know that my story is pretty much like everyone’s on some level. We all lost so much when our addiction started running our lives. When I was at the pinnacle of my addiction, I was completely obsessed with getting more and more pills. Every waking minute of every day was spent thinking up ways that I could trick some doctor or how I could make a quick buck so I could buy something from my dealer.

When I fist started taking pills I was married, had a beautiful daughter and a nice home. While the reason we divorced was not directly related to my addiction, it did play a small part. When I am using, I justify so many things to myself. Also when I am using, I do things that normally I wouldn’t, such as take money from our account and hide it so I could buy pills or steal pills from family and friends. When I would take money, to soothe my guilty conscious, I would justify it in my mind by thinking it was my money to begin with, not thinking about the money was supposed to be for the lights or groceries. When I stole pills I would justify it by saying so and so would have given me some if I had asked. I would convince myself that they had said it was OK. Many times I have looked in the bathroom mirror, after I had done something particular shady, and not recognized the face staring back at me. Sounds like a touch of schizophrenia, doesn’t it? I’ve asked myself “What am I doing?” so many times but I had never gotten an answer. These days I recognize that reflection and I know exactly what I am doing.

I find myself still trying to justify things that I shouldn’t do. These days its not drugs, it's should I buy that cool new electronic gadget now or wait until it goes on sale? You know, when working Step Eight, I had to have 3 sheets of paper to make sure I included everyone that I harmed. There weren’t too many folks in my little world that I didn’t hurt in some way. It may have been easier to make a list of those who I did not harm.

To change the subject a bit, I am going to an A.A. retreat this weekend. Not only will it be A.A, but N.A. and C.A. will be represented too. In a way I am looking forward to it, but in a way I’m not. I’m not too fond of the idea of sharing a cabin with 7 total strangers. They say it’s a good way to meet new people and increase your network. I may wind up getting a hotel room (if there is one close by). I attended our regular Thursday night meeting tonight. I hate it when the speaker is unprepared. Tonight he read out of the Big Book for 15 minutes, and then said that we were going to have an open discussion. What sense does that make when you just read something and you don’t even comment on it.

I have to keep reminding myself that some of the people here aren’t the sharpest knifes in the drawer. ‘Here’ is a residential recovery program in Metro Atlanta. I’ve been here for about 5 ½ months. I’m mandated by the courts to be in this program for 12 months. So I am not quite half way finished. It’s not too bad now. I have a full time job, live with 2 great friends and pretty much come and go as I please. And of course, I am staying clean and sober. This place has taken away all desire to use. Actually, I did it myself. This place isn’t a program in the sense of having counselors, doctors and other trained staff. Here is proved a safe, sober environment where you can get connected to the rooms of recovery. For me I needed to get away from the small town where I grew up. I had so many contacts that I almost never went without pills. Here in Atlanta, I don’t know a soul and I really don’t want to.

This ends another installment of “THOUGHTS ON NOTHING”. I hope that I didn’t bore you all to death. I will not be posting anything this weekend because I’ll be at the retreat. I should be full of new stories when I get back on Sunday night. Please keep sending those responses in. Tell me your story, share those burning desires you might have or what ever you feel like sharing. Thanks again, and I promise to try and respond to your comments.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Story

My story is much like any other drug addict: my drug of choice put my life in a strangle hold and ripped it to shreds. In the end, I was left with nothing but the wreckage and debris of powerful storm that raged out of control.

It began nearly 11 years ago. I had injured my back at work and I was given some pain pills. I had never taken any pain pills before and when I took that first pill, my body reacted strangely. My mind screamed out "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE?" I was as if I found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The pain pills made me feel wonderful. I felt as if I could do anything and handle any crisis with ease.

I started abusing them almost immediately. At first I would take one or two pills a day and that would be enough to take the edge off. Seemingly over night I went from taking a couple a day to taking 10, 15 and even 20 a day. The withdrawals would come after a few days after had ran out of pills, but as my intake increased, the withdrawal symptoms would come on faster and faster. It got to the point where I started having withdrawal symptoms within a few hours of taking my last pill.

My personality was the first thing to go. I went from a happy, laid back person to a pissed off grouch that would fly off the handle at the slightest thing. Everyone knew something was wrong with me but no one ever talked to me about what was wrong. Within a few years, I had lost my job, my wife, my child and I would spend every dime that I could scrape up on pills.

Having been in the health care field, I had virtually unlimited access to doctors on a daily basis. In fact, several of my closest friends were doctors. They never questioned me when I asked them to write me prescriptions. They would write them out or call it in to my pharmacy without hesitation. During this time, I had two back surgeries and the doctor who performed my operations was very liberal in prescribing pain medication. I could count on him whenever I couldn't track down one of my doctor friends.

A few years ago I finally decided that I had had enough of the addict life style. I had went from having it all - a new home, a wonderful family and a great job - to having not a dime to my name, living with my mother and battling the constant cycle of scoring a few pills then having withdrawals. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. After spending some time in jail for writing bad checks in order to buy more pills, I decided it was time to get some help.

I went to our local hospital's emergency room. There I was treated by a doctor friend who had given me many prescriptions for pain pills in the past. When I told him that I was addicted to opiates and I wanted some help getting off of them, he looked at me as if I two heads. He wanted to know why I wanted to quit. He then began to tell me how it was very unlikely that I could get off of the pills. Then he did something that utterly astounded me. He offered to write me a prescription for even more pills! He said that he would be willing to work with me and keep me supplied.

It was a very tempting offer, but my mind was made up; I wanted to stop and I was willing to do what ever it took to accomplish my goal. I knew that I had take drastic action. I immediately began to look for recovery programs. While I was in jail, I had met someone who had been in a recovery program that sounded as if it would be just what I needed. The program was over an hour away from my home, required you to attend daily AA and/or NA meetings and they would help you get a job. Being unemployed, dead broke and desperate to begin my recovery, I was at the program's intake office the morning I was discharged from the hospital.

And so began my long journey to recovery. It has been a hard road with many twists and turns, but I have managed to stay on course. My life has completely changed for the better. I have a good job, a few dollars in my pocket, a decent apartment and a network of people who have helped me maintain my sobriety. I've also met people that have had a significantly positive impact on my new life.

This has been the "Reader's Digest" version of my story. I basically hit the high points (or low points, depending on how you look at it). There are many more details that I will get in to as time goes on and hopefully the interest in my blog increases. I hope that my story will influence someone, in a positive way, who is in recovery or thinking about taking that first step.

The Beginning

In the beginning I didn't know if I wanted to blog or not. I didn't think that I had the discipline to sit down and write something that made sense every day. I started with a hand-written journal that I managed to scribble a few lines each night.

I have no idea what I am going to blog about. I guess it will come to me once I start. I think this is going to be more of a daily journal or diary than a platform for me to express views on particular subjects.

That being said, I guess I will end The Beginning.