Are you someone that thinks you’re too strong minded to ever become addicted to drugs? It’s okay if you believe that. We’re not judging you, but please give us the opportunity to explain how vulnerable to addiction you might be, and how all too often, most of us don’t know that we’re headed towards addiction. Instead, we learn the hard way, once we’ve already become an addict.
We are hoping to shed some light and a new perspective, if you are ever faced with the extremely difficult choices someone faces during their downward spiral into addiction. In this article, we’re going to attempt to help you see things in a way that could help your conscious-self become more aware and make better decisions.
We certainly don’t wish addiction on you. If you are fortunate enough to never be faced with a personal battle of substance abuse, maybe this article will help you look at someone who is struggling, as a victim rather than a monster.
Imagine Yourself In The Following Scenario
Imagine that you and a loved one are on a trip somewhere exotic for what you planned to be an amazing vacation. You had no reason to think otherwise since your travel agent advised you this was the best destination package for you.
During your trip, you follow the itinerary as provided in your travel pack. Your trip starts out just as you expected, absolutely amazing. In addition, your travel agent went over all the details with you regarding the “safe zones” ensuring you avoid any trouble. You’re all set for a great time, right? Not exactly. Here’s where things go south, quickly.
During today’s planned excursion, you were robbed of all of your possessions and you’ve been stabbed with a large knife that is now stuck in your leg. You’re trying to deal with an intolerable amount of excruciating pain. You’re nowhere near a hospital, nor do you see anyone that has the ability to transport you to one. On a positive note, your loved one is still with you and happens to be a medical professional, so he or she is able to help with your wound. There’s bad news however; after an assessment of your injury, it is determined that the only thing keeping you alive is the fact that the knife is still in your leg. Since the knife has severed a major artery, you will lose a lot of blood if you remove it…you will die.
You are aware of the harsh reality of your situation but you are finding it extremely difficult to get your focus on anything other than the pain in your leg. It hurts so much that you can’t help but become panicked. As a result, you get nauseous and begin vomiting. As all of this is happening, your loved one feels completely helpless. There is little that they can do, other than comfort you and hope someone comes along to take you to an emergency medical center. They break down and cry from their powerlessness.
What a terrible situation to find yourself in, huh? If you’re not quite getting where we’re going with this, hang in there, this will all start to make a lot more sense very soon.
Let’s Put You In Another Scenario
For this scenario, you’ll need to imagine you are the best version of yourself, and as fun as it might be to get creative, make sure it’s a realistic version, not a superhero version. A version of yourself that is completely self-aware and in tune with all of your likes, dislikes, interests, goals, etc.
You are surrounded by good people that love and enjoy you. Your life is either destined for greatness or you have achieved it already. You look forward to waking up every day. You have no reason to believe anything would ever go for you. If anyone were to ask how happy you were, you’d tell them you couldn’t imagine a better life. Sounds amazing doesn’t it?
Maybe this isn’t too far from who you actually are today, but for the sake of providing a new perspective, this is where we must change directions. Although you may believe this could never happen to you, anything is possible. This scenario and others have happened to countless before you.
One day while driving to meet a friend for lunch you enter an intersection where you have a green light. As you begin to cross that intersection, a large truck drives through a red light and collides directly into the driver side of your car. Your vehicle is flipped, causing you to hit a telephone pole.
Fortunately, you are still alive, however; when you arrive at the hospital, you learn that you have a broken back that will require surgery. On a scale of 1-10, your pain is at a 14, so the doctors decide to administer the strongest pain meds to help you relax. After your surgery, you learn that the doctors have determined you will require several more surgeries throughout the next year, and in the meanwhile, the outlook for a pain free life is grim. The pain management process begins…
(Here’s where we’ll start to correlate the initial scenario with the latter, and get closer to the point.)
Going Back To The Beginning
Very similar to when you were planning for your trip and discussing things with your travel agent, you begin discussing the pain management and physical recovery process with your doctors. You have all the trust in these professionals, and as a result, you should have no reason to feel that you are in danger while following their advice. It’s normal to trust a professional when they’re helping you, is it not?
We don’t mean to be so negative, but we need to stay on track with offering you the best perspective into how easily your life can be destroyed when you least expect it. Unfortunately, this has become the reality for so many that have come before you, who now struggle with addiction.
You’ve officially entered the “danger zone” that no one warned you about as it relates to your pain management. Your doctor has prescribed medications to you to help with pain reduction. You haven’t questioned anything about the dosage amount, nor the brands, because you trust the advice you’ve received. What you were not aware of was the fact that the prescribing doctor was being compensated for the amount of medications they were prescribing to you, just like the travel agent was compensated for the kind of trip they sold you. Unfortunately, we are talking about your life here, not just a vacation. (For more information regarding how prescription corruption happens.
Not many people go to see a doctor and think that they need to question their intentions or motivation behind their decisions regarding your health, treatments, etc. However, there’s now a lot of people who wish they did.
And now the brutal truth… You are officially an addict at this stage!
Your body has become dependent on opioids. But you don’t know this yet, because you are still under the care of your doctors and continue getting prescriptions filled while awaiting further procedures. Now, let’s fast forward a year.
You’ve made it through all of your surgeries. You still have pain, but the treatment plan is now focused on physical rehab. At this time, the specializing physicians are no longer able to prescribe the same medications, since you are no longer under their care. You have a few pills left, before you must resort to a much less potent medication prescribed by your family doctor. You are not yet aware of what you are about to go through during this change.
The day arrives that you switch to your new medication. At first, you think nothing of it as it is still early, but it doesn’t take long before you start to feel out of sorts. You’re back is not the only thing that seems to be bothering you. You feel nauseous and weak. “What is happening,” you ask yourself.
Over the past year, you have a loved one that has been by your side, whom witnessed your physical recovery throughout every stage. But, today is different. Something is definitely wrong, and they know it too. “We better call the doctor,” your loved one recommends. You agree.
A few hours later, at the family doctor, you are confused by the information you receive. You learn that this is quite normal to experience these symptoms when transitioning or stopping different medications. You hear the doctor explain that you are currently going through withdrawal, but that doesn’t make much sense. The only time you’ve ever heard that term used before is when it was relative to some “junkie” that was coming off of heroin or meth. How could you be in that same category, you wonder. “I’m not an addict,” you say to yourself.
But here’s the biggest pill you will ever have to swallow… You are in fact an addict.
The Downward Spiral
This is the part where you begin to think differently and prioritize poorly. What once mattered to you, no longer holds precedence.
Remember how the knife in your leg caused you to hyper focus all of your attention to just that? Well, that’s what’s happening to you now regarding your addiction to opioids. Your body and mind have become a victim of your addiction.
You are no longer the best version of yourself, but you don’t care, it’s not even a thought in your mind. The only thing that matters to you right now is your desire to get the pills you were once prescribed. You even try to convince your family doctor if he prescribes you a lesser dose that you will be able to wean yourself off of them. However, your doctor knows that you will most likely take more of than prescribed, just to satisfy your cravings. You’re now an addict, and thus you are not trustworthy.
Your doctor makes a suggestion to your loved one to keep a close eye on you, and watch for the progression of your addiction. He also recommends that you speak with a professional from a drug treatment facility. You and your loved one scoff at the idea. Things aren’t to that point, and you could never be like “those people” anyway…right?
Well, two days have passed since you switched medications, and you’re not doing so well. (The knife in your leg is unbearable and you’re thinking about pulling it out to stop the pain, but you know the consequences of doing so.) Your loved one is standing by and watching this unfold in front of their eyes. Although in disbelief, they see it now. There is a problem. Comparable to the knife getting pulled out, they know if you hit the streets looking for illegal drugs, you will be signing your death certificate.
As all of this is happening, you are not aware of the environment you are creating. You have no idea how those around you are becoming conditioned to the situation. They see a person who had it all, transition into a shell of a person. You no longer have ambition, other than finding ways and means to get more. This is a sad time. Friends and family that once adored you, now avoid you. How did you get to this point in your life?
Tying It All Together
You got to this point, by pulling the knife out of your leg. It’s not really a big surprise when you truly think about it. Most people would understand the decision to do so, as it relates to the knife. It is directly associated with an extreme situation where there is a tremendous amount of pain, agony, and limited options. It’s a hard choice, but somehow acceptable in that scenario.
On the other hand, most people don’t offer the same level of empathy in the latter scenario. When an individual makes a similarly clouded choice to “pull the knife out,” and feed their addiction, they are often referred to as losers. They were simply trying to rid themselves of pain, yet they are told they have lost control and have weak minds.
They’re not seen for who they once were, nor are they viewed as victims. Rather, they’re viewed as a waste on society, that’s simply easier to ignore. As such, addicts will continue on their deadly journeys, with the mentality of “What’s the point anyway?” The majority will either look the other way, or deny the fact that addiction can happen to them just as easily.
Addiction is running rampant throughout the United States. Rather than acknowledging its existence and making a conscious effort to change it, a large percentage of our population is more comfortable sweeping the topic of addiction under the rug. The more aware we are of addiction, the more comfortable we will become talking about it. And, as we break the stigma of addiction, the more we will be able to get people the help they need.
If this article could reach just one person that’s a critic or sceptic of addiction, and it changes their perception, then we have done our job. We must see addiction for what it truly is…a fatal disease. It does not make someone a bad person; it makes them a sick person who needs help. Remember, no one is immune to addiction. It could happen to you just as easily as the next person.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you know and love is currently struggling with addiction, help is available.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing the highest quality of addiction treatment services to the suffering individual. If you find yourself caught in the never ending cycle of substance abuse, please give us a call today.
Our Admissions Specialists are available 24 hours a day to assist in your needs.
Recovery is possible…and it begins here!