Addiction Sucks – Get the Facts!

Alcohol-and-Drug-DetoxI finally want to talk about the elephant in the room – addiction. For me, the addiction that has most affected my life since I was a little girl is drugs and alcohol. It sucks! Bottom line.  No cushy words to insulate the fact that this is the simple truth. I am tired of not talking about it, walking around it, tiptoeing through it! Why? Is this helping anyone? Have you ever felt like you were the only one in your world that isn’t addicted to drugs or alcohol?  Does addiction surround you, giving you a feeling of helplessness, sadness and loss of control? The funny thing is, though I do not suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, I do suffer from  a form of addiction. The addiction of loving too much; trying to control or fix all the people in my life that addiction has taken over. 

I was told once that the only outcome of drug or alcohol addiction is to “sober up, get locked up, or get covered up.” That about sums up the reality of this terrible disease! Why is it that some of us can imbibe and stop and others cannot? I have tried to analyze, study, research, talk, basically trying to figure out if this is a disease or a problem that can be easily fixed by just stopping. Drug addiction doesn’t care about social status, economic status, what color or religion you are nor if you hold a college degree. It crosses all barriers and affects all people in one way or the other. It doesn’t matter if it is prescription drugs, street drugs, beer every day or martinis to get you through the weekend.

The Truth

The hard truth that I have had to realize is that the people in my life that are addicted, no longer act like the people I knew and loved prior to being under the influence of addiction. They become “Chuckie” – in other words, they are no longer the people and do not have the personality of those I once knew and loved but are just a shell filled by their disease. They look like them, sound like them but they have become a Chuckie doll.  You end up loving an image and not the person.  As for those of us who love, care or know someone that suffers from this addiction, they become a tornado in our lives, the addicts tear down everything around them, and then when they are sober, they dissipate. They are oblivious of the rubble and destruction that their addiction has caused to the people around them. If you can relate to this at all, I am sure you feel as if you are experiencing PTSD when these episodes happen. It has taken me decades of up and down emotions to realize I cannot control, fix, pay for or love this addiction out of them. Though it feels like my heart gets ripped out and I fear for them, it truly isn’t about me and it isn’t personal. I do understand that they are not trying to hurt me. In the end, it comes down to tough love.  This feels so harsh but we must comprehend that there is a fine line between protecting your own personal boundaries and supporting the addict, without enabling them! 

Get the Facts

Here is a fact: Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15- to 24-year-olds: accidents, homicides and suicides. This statistic also points to the fact that youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to try illegal drugs than teenagers who never drink. There are 1.4 million drunk driving arrests every year in the United States. In Europe, alcohol contributes to nearly one in ten of all cases of illness and premature deaths each year. 40 percent of all violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug in the United States.

As for drugs, an estimated 208 million people internationally consume drugs. The hard truth is that young people are exposed to drugs earlier and earlier in their lives. Drug consumption usually starts with alcohol use or marijuana use and then often leads to other drug use such as cocaine, heroin, pills, crystal meth, inhalants, etc. The saddest statistic, however, is that prescription drug use has become more prevalent and out of control than street drugs. These drugs consist of painkillers, antidepressants, sleeping pills and tranquilizers and because they are prescribed by a doctor, people assume they are safe or it is ok use them over street drugs. Did you know that the drug OxyContin is as powerful as heroin and affects the body the same way? And that our children are prescribed Ritalin or other drugs for ADHD or ADD or antidepressants before they are even 10 years old? As a parent, do you know what you are really giving to your child? If you want to know the effects of the different kinds of prescription pills, street drugs or alcohol on the body, check out the website www.drugfreeworld.org. This website also provides free booklets, information on taking action and stories from drug and alcohol users. 

Don’t Be Silent!

I have made a conscious decision to be informed, to not enable and to reach out about this very common disease. Maybe I cannot help and save each person I love, but maybe I can help someone else. I will not stand silent anymore and I hope you will not either!

No one is immune from addiction, it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes and professions. Patrick J. Kennedy

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