It’s never nice admitting you have a problem, particularly when it involves anything attached to stigma. Before finding my road to recovery, I knew I had to ask myself some controversial questions on the topic of addiction. A lot of people have their own opinions on the matter, and sometimes you learn the hard way that you really don’t have their support. Knowing where you stand can help you hold convictions on those harder days.
Here’s three questions I sat down with and figured out what they mean to me and my addiction. I know, too, that keeping them rigid isn’t the best idea. If I learn new information, my stance may change.
Is addiction a disease or a choice?
I find you’ll here this more when dealing with alcohol than any other drug, but it still was something I needed to figure out. In my case, it’s both. The choice part is allowing my addiction to take the drivers seat. I can choose to numb myself, or I can choose to be present and learn how to handle whatever situation I’m trying to escape (physical to mental pain). Behavior is not easy to alter, particularly when it’s for coping. In my case, a component of that is for survival. I’m getting better at choice. As for disease, I’m going with no. I know that it’s a synonym for illness, but disease implies a malady targeting one specific area in the human body. That’s why I’d rather call it illness. It’s somewhat of an oxymoron to say it’s a disease of the brain when we now use mental illness.
If you’re addicted to drugs, aren’t you a bad person?
This was difficult at first, as I have shit self-esteem. Still do, actually, and struggle greatly with self-talk. However, my dependency is medically related. I lean back on the initial cause: was 15-year-old me ‘bad’ for not saying no to a doctor trying to save my life? Rationale would say no. Speed things up to today: I’m living in a constant state of withdrawal, and my symptoms cause changes in my behavior. At the end of the day, if I take responsibility for my actions (sober or not), that for me decides what kind of person I am. Self-awareness is crucial. It also gives an opportunity to explain drug dependence isn’t addiction.
Doesn’t an addict have to hit “rock bottom” to get help?
This is a resounding no. For myself, I wanted off bezos so badly, but I had no idea what to do, and had failed multiple times. It finally took an accidental cold-turkey detox for me to really sit down to learn about how to get off safely. There’s a term I learned recently used in the AA community called grey bottom. Once you’ve started your recovery, it’s common to reflect back on one (or many) times what should have been a rock bottom. In reality, you’re never going to know what will be the deciding factor.
I may change my stances, and I may not. I always remind myself to keep the door open when it comes to opinions that aren’t emotionally charged. Once you close the door to information, even conflicting, you stop yourself from possible change. That’s what recovery’s all about: the uncomfortable new path led by the unpredictable change.