Let’s face it, as addicts we are expected to tell fibs. It may be that after years of our putting up with us, the people we love lose faith in us because we have proved we can’t always be trusted. We might lie to get money or help, to avoid prosecution or in an attempt to cover up our addiction. Friends might be tired of once again hearing our news that we have got clean ‘for good’ or of exciting new plans for a future which never materialises.
What they don’t often realise is that the person we have become most adept at fooling is usually ourselves. And that similarly to them, we regard ourselves with frustration and disgust, as once again our good intentions crumble and we realise again we have been fooled. When this happens repeatedly, spanning weeks, months and years, it can be that we simply give up and resign ourselves to failure. Failure if you are a heroin addict means giving up on life.
The battle we are fighting goes on within and can be lonely, frustrating and exhausting. In order to win it, it’s important to observe what’s going on when we get a craving to be able to stop ourselves running with it. Here are the big ones:
- If I use today, I won’t tomorrow
This is the classic lie the addict tells. And maybe some times it will be the case, but it’s a safe bet that that time will be the minority. Once your brain chemistry has been altered to that extent, self-control will go out the window. And if it doesn’t this time, it will the next.
- If I use tomorrow, it’ll be ok as long as I’m not using by Saturday and I feel ok for an important event / something I need to do.
This is a terrible trick because even if you do manage to stop before ‘the day’ you will likely feel so low that you won’t be able to face it. Then you are likely to use just because you realise you have messed it up anyway.
- Even if I’m using, I’ll make sure that however I feel, I will get things done
When the endorphins are flowing, it’s easy to be confident of this and forget how it actually feels to be in that pit. Humans seem to have developed by way of survival, the tendency to remember pleasure and forget pain – otherwise many women would only give birth once. We remember the good bits – however when it comes to addiction, this isn’t helpful.
- As long as I keep positive thoughts clear in my mind, I’ll be ok
No matter how much experience proves otherwise, we still seem to convince ourselves that next time will be different. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. As a fairly intelligent person, I am still baffled by my own idiocy here. Like the story of the ‘Red Shoes’, once our feet start tapping we can’t stop and we dance ourselves to the grave.
The mind is a powerful thing, but while we’re not in control of it, it can take us from a good place to a bad one in record time. And once there we remember how stupid we were to think it was that easy.
- This time it will be different
The fact is, once you have become addicted, it never will be different. You can never go back to those first days, months or years when you were able to pick it up and put it down.
The problem is that as addicts, our brains are hard wired to not be able to take our drug of choice only once. And once we do, all right and sane thinking is lost. We have developed a default reaction when faced with stress, which is to use. And breaking that default will take years of abstinence; don’t kid yourself that because you have been clean for a few months, it will be different – within a couple of days you will be starting to run on auto-pilot and within a week you can feel like you have landed on your arse at square one.
However, no matter how many times you land on your arse, you have to refrain from beating yourself up and start again. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself and others that you have had a relapse; do whatever you need to do to turn it around. Even if you have to do it a hundred, or a thousand times, never ever lose hope that you will eventually beat it and get the life you deserve. Relapsing is a disaster, but it’s not a disaster that you can’t come back from.
Keep in your mind the life you want free from drugs and imagine how it will be. What will you be doing? What will your life look like? Never, ever lose sight of the fact that you’ll get there. Keep trying no matter how many times you have failed and be willing to try anything to get there.
Beating addiction is a process and the road is never straight. It’s probably the hardest thing you will ever do so be gentle with yourself.