An Open Letter From A Recovering Heroin Addict

Flickr / Luci Correia
Flickr / Luci Correia

To anyone who understands, tries to or just can’t seem to:

Like many addicts I have come to know and love in recovery, I have a story.

It is most definitely my own, although some parts may be similar to others, it will always be my own. I’m not here to share my story about what happened in the past, but I am here to share about my life. Every day on social media, there is at least one person who is struggling. Someone is struggling because a loved one is, or someone who is struggling with ignorance because this disease has yet to hit them in a way where they would seek out ways to understand.

Like many addicts, this is not my first go around at trying to stay abstinent from a drug which took everything from me. That portion of it is also why people who are not affected by this disease have such a hard time grasping this statement: “I will continue to chase that drug, even if I’m sober and doing all the right things to keep it that way. I still have cravings for the one thing that ruined my life, and took everything from me.” I have personally been in this spot. I know a lot of addicts have been in during active addiction.

That space in your head where you are just so miserable and want nothing more than to quit but you can’t. Your body physically won’t allow you to. Even if you muster up the willpower to try. In a few short hours, your disease, and body — sick from withdrawal — will rip that willpower right from you. Once you begin to realize this cycle, death seems to be the only option and one you start to welcome.

Addiction in part, for a lot of people, and myself included, is the inability to deal with feelings. That is something that even with seven months sober, I still deal with today.

Honestly, I would compare more of my life in recovery today as a little girl going through puberty, minus all the body changes, that is. Now, I’m not going to say it’s all in part to my addiction, but a lot of it is in part to things that have happened in my past, and like I pointed out that all goes back to my inability to cope with those feelings that the past brings up. Like things people take for granted, such as trust, love, empathy, vulnerability, and so much more. Those are the things I struggle with most, things that seem so simple, especially something like love. Unless you’ve been there, you have no idea how hard a relationship can be in recovery. Your either too involved or so scared and put off by the thought, you can’t be involved in one, no matter what or how hard you try. Trying to trust someone is also a big one for many. A lot of people relate best with an abused dog who is afraid to be touched. The longing is there for the ability to be able to be touched, but the fear of being hurt or abandoned again outweigh any other feelings.

My life today is by no means a life of luxury and eternal happiness. But today, I am a better person, and a happier person than I have ever been. It took me being suicidal, strung out, and so emotionally drained to be able to realize that I needed to do whatever is suggested of me this time, or I will in fact die. Today I am the heroine of my story. My addiction brought me down to a southern state with nothing but a duffel bag full of clothes, and the hope that something this time was going to be different — that it is in fact possible to be released from the grip heroin had on me all these years.

Today, I find peace in honesty. I find serenity in doing the next right thing, and by helping others. I fight my battle not so much against my addiction anymore, but against the people who don’t understand the disease. The people who have called me every name associated with that social stigma of addiction. I lend my hand to others who are suffering and see no way out. I hold them up and show them what life could be, and that the people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind. I advocate for people who have lost their voice just like I did, and I fight the war with them to get it back.

As a heroin addict, I am not a worthless junkie. I did not choose what I became, but I did choose to become someone better. I have an illness, not something I elected for at birth. My disease, runs rampant in my mind, and wishes nothing but death and suffering upon me. Just like you wouldn’t wish your grandmothers cancer on anyone, I would never wish my addiction on anyone either.

You may see me as a lowlife, you may see me as a useless junkie. But I am not defined by my past. My present is what makes me who I am today. A working member of society, a woman with morals, and standards. And more then that, I am a woman who knows my worth and the worth of countless other addicts. I promise to never give up on those who need help, and to never judge someone by their past. These are all the things that make me who I am today. Recovery is possible, and so is breaking the stigma.

Do not walk a mile in the shoes of an addict to understand. Simply listen to the addict, the one that still suffers and the one who has found the solution. In doing that I promise, you will see that we are just like anyone else that you hold close to your heart. However to some, we will always remain “the addict”, but to others we will be the fighters, who try hard everyday to be the change they wish to see in the world. TC mark

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