My experience of being addicted to opiates

I was the stereotypical “Georgia Peach.” Living away from the city, I was fascinated by the simplicity of life — or so I thought.

Growing up in the Bible Belt, it would be fair to say I was pretty sheltered.

I grew up in a typical blue-collar, middle-class family. My parents worked hard to give my brother and I the best life possible.

Looking back now, I can see how I exhibited all of the behaviors of an addict from an early age. Even as a little girl, I found solace in isolation.

I never felt part of a collective — adapting to my surroundings by subjecting myself to a total victim mentality — and most of my actions were centred on myself.

I spent years blaming my genetic predisposition, my experience of trauma, my biological mother for giving me up for adoption, my adopted stepmother’s favoritism for my brother, and even the “mean girls” at school who wouldn’t let me join in.

However, there was always one common denominator: me.

I believe I was experiencing a spiritual malady and the fundamental inability to cope. Retreating from reality, I’d indulge in books, writing, and recreating my own story.

I was 5 years old when I encountered trauma for the first time. Too young to comprehend the scale of the situation, I went straight to the people I trusted the most and told them about the ongoing sexual abuse.

Finally, I thought someone would validate my pain. Looking back, perhaps it was just too painful for them, and I truly believe that they did the best they could with what they had. It was just easier to make the whole thing go away.

I share this specific situation because I believe that it produced an avoidant response, which later became my only coping mechanism. I learned that the best way to avoid pain was through utter oblivion.

Thankfully, I accepted the gift of treatment and spent 33 days at a dual diagnosis treatment center.

For the first time in my life, I chose to face my fears.

I received a new diagnosis, one I gratefully accepted. I was an addict, to the core of my being, and I was finally educated on addiction.

My chronic addiction mirrored my chronic pain in a way that was beneficially tangible.

Neither were going anywhere, and I had to find a treatment plan to mitigate the symptoms effectively.

I attacked it head-on, soaking up every experience that other people with addiction might endure. Rather than comparing myself with others, I actually found myself relating to those who were struggling with the same pain I knew so well.

It wasn’t until I welcomed treatment for the symptoms of my addiction that I was able to taste true freedom. Surprisingly enough, the symptoms of my bladder disease started to subside as well.

When I decided to get sober, I also decided to make better choices — mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I received therapy for the age-old traumas I’d spent my life running from. I learned healthful coping skills. I was introduced to meditation and began to seek my own conception of spirituality.

I surrounded myself with women who truly loved and cared for my well-being while also supporting my success. Through the steps of the fellowship, I learned how to be the best version of myself.

There’s an unheralded section of society — many members of which would be deemed the world’s cast-offs — stepping out in love and successfully overcoming near-fatal adversity.

I believe that putting aside age-old resentments, making amends to the loved ones we’ve hurt, and focusing on helping other people with addiction are all remedies for spiritual malady. Humanity, as a whole, could certainly benefit from the process we trudge in recovery.

Today, I live a life that I never would have imagined. I’m comfortable in my own skin, and I gravitate toward intimate interpersonal relationships. From pain to pleasure, I get the opportunity to take in every emotion and grow from them, helping others along the way.

I am grateful to finally have the ability to rise to the occasion and live life on my own terms.

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