The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
No two stories about embarking upon the journey to a sober life are exactly the same. Some addicts have that “a-ha!” moment where they realize the time has come to reach out for help. Still, others only see how lost they are when someone they love confronts them.
But there is one thing all of these stories have in common: They are as inspiring as they are heartbreaking.
My fellow addicts shared their stories with me of when they knew they were no longer in control — and reminded me that there’s something we can all learn from their experiences.
John tried to manage his addiction on his own… and couldn’t
Some of us who have an addiction are aware that we have a serious issue even before we seek treatment. But one of the most wicked things about addiction is how the disease tricks us into thinking we’re in control of it.
“I’ve had ongoing nerve pain for about 15 years, and my pain had flared up again,” John told me.
Although he informed his doctor that he had already been treated for addiction in the past, she prescribed him benzodiazepine pills (often called “benzos”), a potentially addictive medication, to alleviate his agony.
“I didn’t give the prescription to my wife like I should have,” John admitted. “I thought I could control it. I really thought I would only take it as prescribed to help me sleep. But I ended up in the hospital.”
Fortunately, a coordinator from Addiction Campuses was visiting the hospital where John was being treated.
“She spoke to my wife about Addiction Campuses, and my wife called the center. Within a day, I was on a flight to Dallas for treatment.”
And although in a way, John wasn’t in control of this situation either, he believes it was the best turn of events he could have hoped for.
“It was actually great,” he said. “Control is a big issue for anyone, whether you have an addiction or not. With the other treatment centers I’d been to, I’d had some say in my being there. But this time, I just had to show up and be open to learning something new.”
John turned his tragedy into triumph and today lives a sober, healthy life, which he and his wife often write about on their blog.
Jeff was inspired by a lost loved one
Jeff had been struggling with addiction issues for years until one day his life was changed forever.
“I got done with work a little early one day and decided to buy some heroin,” he recalled. “There was an undercover officer when I went to buy it, and although I didn’t have heroin on me, he found some medication I didn’t have a prescription for, and I was arrested.”
But his arrest was only one piece of the puzzle that helped him realize he needed to make some changes. And incredibly, Jeff received hope from a friend he never thought would be able to help him again — one whom he’d lost to addiction.
“I had a dream that night that involved my best friend, George, who passed away,” Jeff said. “In the dream, I was in a house and George walked in. I hugged him, and he pulled away from me and said, ‘You look terrible.’
“At that point I was six feet tall and about 150 pounds — I really was just skin and bones,” he confessed. “So I said to George, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do something about that.’ And when I woke up, it was like a light went off. I knew I had to do something. Talk is cheap.”
It turned out that George came through for Jeff one last time when he needed him most. Jeff took action to get clean — and he recently celebrated one year of sobriety.
Zach admitted, ‘I was about to lose everything’
Some of us are given a severe reminder that we’re on the wrong path.
“A little over a year ago, I’d gotten to the point where I was shooting up various pain pills,” Zach told me. “I knew I was about to lose everything I had — my family, my job, everything.”
Then a life-shaking event occurred — one that rattled Zach so deeply that he knew he needed to get himself back on track.
“One morning, some cops came and kicked my door in. They found some of the substances I was using. That was a big eye-opener for me. I went to my parents and told them I needed some help.”
Within a couple of days, Zach was on a plane to a treatment center. He’s been sober for over a year now.
Coming to terms with the fact that you aren’t in control of your addiction is one of the most difficult events you can go through. But this experience teaches addicts like me a valuable lesson I believe everyone, whether or not they suffer from substance abuse issues, should put into practice: If you’re on a destructive path, if you’re scared or hurting, if you truly know that something in your life needs to change, you must seize the opportunity to change it.
Because as John, Jeff and Zach have reminded me, your life truly can change for the better.
About the Author
Michelle Peterson is a proud recovering addict. She is fighting to eliminate the stigma against those who suffer from or have suffered from substance abuse and addiction. She created RecoveryPride.org to spread messages of hope and help to those in recovery, those wishing to be in recovery, and their loved ones. When she isn’t building the site, she enjoys running and crafting.