I spent years chasing after a miracle treatment for my pill addiction. I was willing to do the work, just as long as there was no pain, discomfort or emotional distress involved. In other words, I wasn’t actually willing to do the work. When you’re addicted to something, that irrational sense of false pride that keeps you from asking for help just gets bigger and bigger. If you let it, it will eventually kill you. It’s no stretch to say that you become your own worst enemy. The best you could hope for is the presence of mind to look for a solution during your decreasing moments of lucidity.
I never planned to be a drug addict. I spent my life ardently opposed to marijuana and scoffed at people that couldn’t hold their liquor. Looking back on it, I had spent a great deal of time holding myself above people that I considered slaves to their vices while I endeavored to make something of myself. Perhaps my pill habit was karma for the way I’d perceived addiction in the past. I still find myself judging people with substance abuse problems prematurely, even after everything I’ve seen and been through. It’s one of the character flaws that I’m looking to rectify.
You think you’re safe when you’re 41 and sober, right? You think: “If addiction hasn’t grabbed me by now, it’s not going to.” Then you start suffering from chronic back pain and suddenly anything’s possible except for the things you want to be. I started popping Percocet like they were after-dinner mints to deal with my back pain. I wanted my body to perform like it always had, regardless of how old I was getting. The irony is that the pills never did anything for the origin of the pain; they only treated the symptoms and only for a very short time.
My pill addiction continued for ten years, during which time I tried outpatient programs, inpatient programs, cold-turkey, sporadic attendance at NA meetings and everything else a person does when they say they’re trying, but aren’t really committed. Withdrawal consumed my body while distraction consumed my life. On my 52nd birthday, I entered holistic addiction treatment as a last-ditch effort to get my life back—the rest, as they say, is history. For the first time since I started going to rehab, I was in a program that was interested in treating my long-term problems and not just my symptoms. It was just a different kind of approach than I was ever used to in recovery, and it worked.
I’ve managed to stay away from pills for the better part of three years and have never felt more at peace with myself. During a period in my life that could have easily ended in early death, I got the help I needed and the miracle I had been asking for. There are no words to articulate how appreciative I am for this second chance, so I suppose I’ll just have to let my actions do the talking.