Sharing my thoughts on an addict’s story published on NPR

Article:  Longtime Heroin Addict Fights for Recovery

As someone who has struggled with various addictions throughout my life, the worst being alcohol, reading this story about Andrea Towson touched me and hit home.  I was never addicted to heroin, but I feel that many of my days while active in my disease mirrored hers… get up, start drinking, make sure I have enough to get through the day and into the next, plan on how I was going to get more, then continue drinking until finally passing out.  Every day was the same.  And it was a nightmare.  I also had more than one near death experience, but still continued to drink for some time before finally ‘waking up’ to the idea that I needed help.  On July 13th, 2017, I gratefully celebrated five years of sobriety.  It also happened that an AA event that my spouse and I attend every year was a week early this year and fell on the same weekend of my sobriety birthday.  My favorite part of the event is the countdown.  Now mind you, upwards of 1000 people attend this event every year, and what is staggering about this number is that we live in a small community.  During the countdown, the person at the podium starts by finding out who has the longest sobriety – it’s usually someone with 45-50 years.  Then we countdown one year at a time, and those who have that period of sobriety stand up to be recognized while everyone claps and cheers for them.  Once the countdown gets to one year, then we continue by month, and once we hit one month, we countdown by day.  There is always someone who has only one day of sobriety.  That person walks to the front along with the person who has the most time, they hug, and the person with the most time under their belt gives the person who has the least time a copy of the ‘big book’ and words of encouragement.  I always tear up during the countdown, especially when I see those who have only days or weeks stand up.  I remember that time so clearly and how hard it was and wondering how anyone could make it a whole year, or even longer.  As time has gone by, I have grown and gotten stronger and no longer wonder how, as I am living it day by day.

Sadly, there are many who will never experience sobriety because their lives will be taken too soon as a result of their addiction.  It is unfortunate too that rehab is very costly, and often there are no available beds, leaving those who want and seek treatment out on their own.  Addiction is very complex; there are many factors in play as to why someone becomes addicted.  Too often people who have never been there do not understand this, all they want to do is point a finger and place the blame.  And unfortunately, the U.S. currently has an administration who largely does not understand addiction and they are going about fighting the current epidemic all wrong.  Most of the people who are out there still struggling are good people; many have the qualities our society deems as good, but we can’t see these qualities because they are masked by drugs and/or alcohol.  Many would be very shocked and surprised as to how many people who currently hold, or at one time held, positions of power and prestige also have a past that includes addiction.  The point is, addicts are worth saving, and building walls and returning to a 1980s-style ‘war on drugs’ absolutely will not stop the problem so many are facing.  Instead, educating people and the public, creating safe places for addicts to go to, and providing support and programs is what will help.  Congrats to Ms. Towson for finding sobriety and reaching out to others, I wish her the best!

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Songs for Today

There are so many songs that swirl around in my head and emotions I feel when I think about my drinking days and my path to sobriety.  Here are a handful that stand out; most revolve around the prison that is alcohol and/or drug use, and the path to recovery.  Others simply take me back to old memories during that time of my life.  However, there is to this day some music I have a hard time listening to because I would play it so much while drinking, and I feel triggered by it.  Those songs/that music have not been included here.  This is also far from a thorough list of music about addiction and recovery – these are songs that have spoken to me over the years and I feel that I relate to.

Tracy Chapman – “Fast Car”

Eminem – “Going Through Changes” (explicit lyrics)

Velvet Revolver – “Fall To Pieces”

Marilyn Manson – “Coma White”

P!nk – “Sober” (Live)

Johnny Cash – “Hurt”

Dixie Chicks & Stevie Nicks – “Landslide” (live at Divas 2002)

Elle King – “Kocaine Karolina”

Lukas Graham – “7 Years”

Old Dominion – “Nowhere Fast”

Snow Patrol – “Chasing Cars”

The Fray – “How to Save a Life”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Scar Tissue”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under The Bridge”

Third Eye Blind – “God of Wine”

Staind – “It’s Been Awhile”

Shinedown – “Save Me”

Hootie and the Blowfish – “Let Her Cry”

Metallica – “Bleeding Me”

Just for Today

Again, substitute “NA” for your own addiction.

Just for Today

Tell yourself:
JUST FOR TODAY my thoughts will be on my recovery,
   living and enjoying life without the use of drugs.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in someone in NA who
   believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have a program. I will try to follow it
   to the best of my ability.
JUST FOR TODAY, through NA, I will try to get a better
   perspective on my life.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be unafraid. My thoughts will be on
   my new associations, people who are not using and
   who have found a new way of life. So long as I follow

that way, I have nothing to fear.

Reprinted from the Little White Booklet,
Narcotics Anonymous.
© 1986 by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc., PO Box 9999, Van Nuys, CA 91409
ISBN 0-912075-65-1 10/00