I’m sure you know that drive alone can’t beat addiction. For a while, I asked myself how do I want to want to stay sober?
I knew I needed to but did I want too? Not really.
Eventually, though, I did learn to want it bad enough. I wanted it so bad that now I’m able to share this all with you.
But for a while, I didn’t talk about anything. I don’t think anyone outside of my immediate circle knew any of the awful things I had done.
I don’t think anyone understood just how dark I could get. I bet —everyone just assumed I was this happy-go-lucky girl; a purposely painted portrait of who I wished I was but could never be. I can’t help but think, is that really what I wanted everyone to see?
Not really. I mean, before all the partying and boys, I was simply the second born daughter of an attorney and beautiful stay-at-home mom. I had this picture in my head of the great things I’d do. So yeah, I had a lot of drive but I had a lot of pressure too. And so, as you know, things definitely didn’t turn out as I had planned (that’s fo sho).
I don’t know much but I do know that.
Looking back, I see it all so clearly —at least today I do. What they say about hindsight really is true. Except, it wasn’t always this way. For a while, I let opioids control my entire life. They controlled me until I realized I didn’t actually need them.
It was a false freedom that I mistakenly took for empowerment. And I think for a while, for far too long —the impending withdrawals derailed any positive growth. But once you overcome that, it gets easier to actually want it all to stick.
I think the greatest thing I learned is that —it all comes down to how badly you want it.
For me, back then, I couldn’t fathom life without pills. I couldn’t do anything without one. I was willing to complain about how awful everything was but I wasn’t willing to put in the work. And that’s the problem. Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time. What we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. Except, we know this isn’t true. That’s not how it works.
After everything, at least for me, it had to get worse before it got better. I’ve said that before. But maybe now that you have a bigger picture of what worse actually meant to me, maybe you’ll understand why I am the way I am presently. Because people can teach you all day to do this and not that but I’ve learned that if someone wants something, like if an addict wants his or her drug of choice —even though they know they shouldn’t, chances are they will anyway.
Like I already said, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him or her drink it.
Except, I’m asking you too. I want you to chug. I want you to get more out of life than simply white knuckling you’re way to the end. I want you to enjoy this ride we call life —even if drive alone can’t beat addiction. So this is where I tell you three ways you can learn to want this thing called recovery bad enough that it’ll actually stick.
1. Find a program that works for you —not one that someone tells you to do.
This is huge guys. My biggest mistake was saying and doing things I thought people wanted to hear. I remember being a resident at my first treatment center. I still had cravings even after they said I was good to go. But I didn’t speak up. I told them, yeah I think I’m ready but I knew I wasn’t.
I think I just wanted to get out of that place.
Maybe I was in a rush but remember, this isn’t a race. And don’t compare where you’re at to anyone else. We all go at our own pace. I mean, it took me over five years and three rock bottoms before I finally wanted it like I said I did all those times before. And my version of wanting it may be different than yours. Like for me, today I let myself have a drink on special occasions.
And I know what you’re thinking. Even if you just have a pill problem, the 12-step program says you can’t do drugs or drink alcohol because liquor is still a mind altering substance. And they are right. They are right for two reasons. One being alcohol reduces our inhibitions and increases the likelihood that we will make bad choices. The other is just as they say in the rooms, a drug is a drug is a drug.
But that’s their program and not mine. I did theirs strictly. I followed it to a “t” and still, I relapsed.
Now, I’m not telling you to go have a drink if you merely snorted pills. I’m not saying that in the very least. I’m just giving you an example of why it’s so important to find a program that works for you —and not one that someone tells you to do. I mean today, even when I can drink, I usually don’t. And I didn’t take my first sip until I had a clear view of what I wanted my version of sobriety to be.
I’m just being honest, guys. And with my new understanding, I haven’t done or craved an opiate in nearly half a decade. I’m more than functioning. I’m like a new me. I want you to be brand new too. And despite what you may think from those words above, I still suggest that you start your journey with some type of 12-step program —then, take it from there.
If you’re feeling it, go to those meetings, find a sponsor and work the steps. And if not, try something else. For me, I went to those meetings every day for a year. Then, I started attending therapy where I learned a little more about who I wanted to be and why I did the things I did. From there, I started creating sober relationships and I ended any toxic ones.
Oh, and then I read every type of self-help book I could get my hands on.
2. Because taking care of “you” is not selfish —not by a long shot.
Self-care is so important —it matters more than you might think especially to anyone in recovery. It’s all about your mindset like what activities and habits do you practice in order to fight your inner monster? For me, I like to get weekly manicures among other things. And I know that may sound lame or girly but let me just tell you, it’s not. The fact remains that this simple notion restores balance to my life.
But just how I view going to the spa as a way to restart, someone else may hate the idea of another person touching their hands or feet. And that’s OK —not everyone likes the same thing; therefore, your self-care routine will certainly be different than mine. You just have to find what works for you.
3. I’m sure you’ve heard this before: it all starts in your mind. If you change your mind, you change your life.
I know, I know. It’s not easy to find something else to think about when all that’s inside your head is negativity. Maybe you find yourself still craving the drugs you said you’d never do again? Maybe you hate them but at the same time, you still love them? I get it, really I do.
Except, if your mind can initiate those negative thoughts, can’t they erase them too? Yes. Absolutely. That’s why I’m about to tell you when the bad swoops in, you need to find some sort of positive affirmation to repeat instead. For me today, whenever something ugly enters my mind, I’ll repeat the opposite. Then, I’ll find a quote or music lyric that I can meditate on. And eventually, the evil pop-ups fade away.
Except, I can’t tell you how long it took for me to get here. I didn’t care about myself when I was addicted. I only cared about those damn pills. But after I hit my third rock bottom —paired with a shit ton of therapy, my philosophies began to change. I started to create a life I actually wanted to participate in. I also started accepting how I felt, in every moment.
I learned that feelings aren’t facts and nothing is final.
I stopped wanting to escape the wreckage from my past. Instead of running, I learned how to be alone. I discovered that this type of pain could actually be my greatest tool. And now, I use it to strengthen the woman I’ve become. I mean, I battled trauma, loss, and anger completely sober. I came out on the other side a winner —better for every experience, good or bad.
The old me couldn’t have done that. In fact, she wouldn’t even have thought of it. But the new me did because of my current state of mind. And my state is great because I took time for myself. I knew I needed to say no to certain people, places, and things because that was the only way I was ever going to grow. It was the only way I could learn that I needed nothing outside of myself to fix me. Every answer has always been within.
Because like I already said, if you can change your mind, you can change your life.
I mean, I’m sure like me, you put a lot of effort into finding and using your drug of choice, right? No matter what you were hooked on, addiction requires a lot of work —more so than a non-addict would think. Essentially, you have to put your life on hold.
But as a result, you already have the ability to use your “stay scheming” attitude for something good rather than simply trying to turn $0 into $200 so you can pick up a bunch of pills. Like if you put half the effort into your recovery that you did trying to stay high, I’m pretty sure you’d be sober for a while.
I know it’s hard. It’s not what I wanted. It’s not what I dreamed of. But it is. Nothing about addiction or recovery for that matter is easy. It’s a devasting disease. I can make it worse and stay bitter or I can face it head on and get better. The choice is yours. Will you drink the water or will the water drink you?
And even though drive alone can’t beat addiction, that doesn’t mean you can’t —just look at me.