For most people addiction is still taboo. While it may appear to be more socially now with social media and celebrities being the face of those struggling for sobriety. I recently stopped and asked myself... what about the people you never hear about?
What about the families where the only thing they have left are memories of their loved ones who are no longer around to tell their stories? What about the ones who, while celebrities are making a million from publicity, are wondering where their dad, mom, sister, brother, son, daughter, or grandchildren are right now? What about those families who cannot pay their bills or fight to find their next meal because every dime they had was spent on rehab, lawyers, doctors or was simply stolen?
This is the reality of it all. Please don’t take it the wrong way, I am not belittling any celebrity for their desire for or road to recovery in any way. In fact, some have actually helped shine a light on how serious addiction really is. I want to take this chance to give you just a little insight from one of the “regular” people who has battled with alcoholism and drug addiction for 25 years.
“Will I ever be seen as a truly good person or will society deem me as unfit to be trusted again?”
Over the past 25 years, I have been to 20 rehabs and I have been locked up in jail 10 different times. I made a career out of being a menace. Those numbers aren’t something to brag about, but it does give me a sense of direction.... the direction not to take. When an individual goes through that many institutions they start to ask themselves, “Will I ever be able to function in society again?” or “Will I ever be seen as a truly good person or will society deem me as unfit to be trusted again?”
Honestly, if I worried about the answers to these questions, I would lose my peace and solitude. For the most part, one of the biggest questions alcoholics and drug addicts ask themselves is ‘why am I so unhappy?’ Some people say family and relationships make them happy. Some even say their pets. Children may say their toys, but what do alcoholics and addicts say makes them happy? The answer is usually the same across the boards... “I don’t know” usually followed by, “I haven’t been happy in so long, I forgot how that feels.”
Society may believe if the addict finds what makes them happy, they will stop using drugs and drinking alcohol. Technically this is true, but if the alcoholic/addict can’t even remember or never really knew what made them happy, what is their motivation to stop?
I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked “Why can’t you just stop?” or “Is family not enough?” I have even been told, “You have so much potential, you can do whatever you want,” but no matter what others saw in me, I just didn’t have the ability to see that in myself. When someone looks in the mirror, they see the reflection of themselves and whatever is in the surrounding area.
Addicts and alcoholics have often lost the ability to hope. Truth be told, the mirror is often their worst enemy for they have to face themselves and doing so face the result of their addiction. It doesn’t matter how many treatment facilities or how many times they have attempted to quit, the results are all the same. Until an addict can find self-worth they will continue to sink in a sea of regret. Why self-worth?
Let me break it down. What is self-worth? It is the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person. It also means giving yourself the same respect, dignity and understanding you want from others. Therefore, self-worth is really self-love.
The journey from self-hatred to self-worth can be a long one, it has for me. After 20 different treatment centers and many nights locked up in jail, my hope in myself was restored because I learned how to love myself again, and that has made all the difference.
Addicts beat themselves up more than the world does. This is why it is harder to build something up than tear it down. The way to build back up and establish or regain self-worth is by continuing to have hope.
Hope is a desire, and a certainty life will get better and something positive will happen. If all hope had been lost for me personally, I would not have the opportunity to find my purpose in life and work with those who share a similar reality with me. Most importantly, I never lost hope in myself.