If you believe some of the Hollywood fairy tales that active addiction is an exciting adventure filled with strange people and a constant whirlwind of action. Or on the flipside of this narrative, active addiction is one of desolation and homelessness, filled with urban landscapes and shopping carts clanging with soda cans.
Neither one of these portrayals of active addiction is entirely true, but neither is entirely false either and the truth behind what active addiction looks like, rest somewhere in between the two.
I think it would be best to illustrate this point through a personal narrative from a friend of mine, whose drug addiction and alcoholism was rather run of the mill. He wasn’t jet setting across the planet to party with fancy people and he wasn’t homeless living on the streets. He lived at home with his parents, in a nice suburban house, with nice suburban things and he just happened to be addicted to heroin.
He told me that as mundane as his addiction was, it was still a living hell. He would wake up every day and hope that he either had enough drugs or money to get himself through the day, and when he woke up and knew neither of these were true, he’d suffer an anxiety that was totally paralyzing.
His typical day, he said, looked like this. He would wake up and already be experiencing withdrawals because in the 7 hours or so that he slept, the opiates had left his body and now with his eye open, the cravings would begin. He would do any heroin that he had left and then without taking a shower or eating, he would get in his car and drive to work. He said of these times that his personal hygiene was particularly terrible and every once in awhile his dad would tell him, “You’re smelling ripe today” meaning it was time to take a shower.
His job was the focal point of his life and it was just about the only real interaction he had with people throughout the week. He remembers that often times, a big night out for him would be going to Barnes and Noble and this is because he was no longer invited anywhere and most people in his life had already begun to withdraw from him.
He only had one friend at the time and his relationship with this buddy was waning due to his drug addiction. His friend, who also used drugs, didn’t really want anything to do with him anymore because of all of the lies he told and because of the fact that he just genuinely wasn’t really a nice person when he was using.
During this phase of his addiction, he had to use every day. There wasn’t really any fun in it anymore and he very rarely actually got high. He would have to temper his using to make sure that he made it through the week without running out, and he constantly lived under the fear that he would get arrested buying drugs, or that his supply would dry out.
He went on to tell me that his relationship with his sister was completely strained and that she didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. She lived in the house but would just stay in her room and not talk to him because even though his parents might be able to deny his using, she didn’t, and she saw in his sunken face and 100-pound body all of the trapping of addiction and she hated him for it.
The overall feeling that I received from his story is that living in addiction is a life of isolation, loneliness, and repetition. It appeared that all of the fun in his life had been extinguished and it was just about surviving. He worked in order to get drugs, and he needed drugs in order to work. He was 22 years old at the time and even though all of his old friends were out graduating from college, starting on their career paths, and maybe even starting families, he was incapable of doing any of that. He had failed out of college twice, and not for lack of intelligence, but because he wasn’t capable of going to the classes due to drug usage and he said at the time he believed he was never going to go back to school.
His life just went on in a loop of drug usage and isolation and even family vacations weren’t particularly fun because he had to make sure that he had enough money or drugs in order to get through them. His life revolved around his addiction and the strange thing is, that it seemed normal to him. Now that he is sober he realizes the fallacy in this type of thinking, but at the time his addict life seemed the only normal one and he didn’t really want for anything more. He just wanted to have enough drugs to get him through the day and enough cigarettes so that he wouldn’t have scrounge through his ashtray for his nicotine fix. It was a boring, repetitious life that was being squandering on substance abuse.
So while by no means is my friend’s story the official account of drug addiction, more people than not have a very similar story. It may have started out fun and exciting but at some point, it ends up with just the addict, their drugs, and their room.
If you are currently suffering from an addiction and think that you need to get help for your problem then call the professionals at Elevations Health today at 1-866-200-3224. We know how difficult it can be to make the decision to finally get clean and sober and our trained staff is here to help in any way that we possibly can. A life of recovery is available to everyone and we here at Elevations Health can show you the way. So don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today, and give us a call.