The path to recovery isn't always easy, but it is possible. In today's blog, forum member Ray shares the lessons learned on his own journey from addict to father.
My name is Ray and, like many others in the world, I suffered from substance abuse. Substance abuse kills about 200,000 people per YEAR and the numbers are just rising! The issue isn't helped by the fact that drugs are sometimes idolized by our favorite singers, music videos, friends, family and what have you. We're made to believe it's cool or it'll make us fit in with no consequences, but the truth is drugs can also take your life off course. Believe me, I've experienced it firsthand – and also found my way back through recovery! It wasn't easy with the label and stigma attached to addicts, but I've found that through self-compassion and new ambitions, I've been able to come through this struggle even stronger than I was before.
When I was younger, my family would verbally abuse me and tell me how worthless I was and how I wouldn't grow up to be anything. Coming from my own parents, this created deep-seated insecurity and depression. Then one day, my brother's friend came a long and made it seem like drugs were my pathway to happiness. Plus, I'd seen rappers and actors I idolized use drugs, so I thought, "Hey, if people like that can do it, why can't I?" It doesn't mean I'm a bum on the street, or that I'd do anything to get high. And at first I was right but the stronger my addiction got, the more I knew I was becoming what I was most afraid of and that was "the addict." It took hitting rock bottom before I could seek and accept help, but I'm now three years clean. I have a sponsor, attend meetings and have also sought help for my depression. I've come a long way from where I was, but I could still be described as a recovering addict.
Many people have their own idea of what an addict is. In some people's minds, an addict is a thief, heartless, dirty, crazy, or bad person and in so many cases that is not true. We are people like everyone else and just because we made a bad choice doesn't meant we're bad people. We're only human and doesn't every human make mistakes? While hooked on a drug, we may become someone we're not and our identity may slowly begin to vanish, but that doesn't mean we can't find our way back after recovery. We all are much stronger then what any of us gives ourselves credit for!
If you've been through recovery, it may feel like the label "addict" will follow you, but you don't have to follow that label By that I mean: follow the label you believe you are! For example, if you believe you're a singer then sing away! Let the world hear that voice! Don't ever let anyone hold you back, especially your past! For me that means embracing the role of father to my daughter.
The strongest people in my eyes are the ones who have been to the deepest parts of hell in their life, climbed out and became everything everyone told them they wouldn't be! And sometimes it's easier said then done but nothing is impossible! And the only label that matters is the one you give yourself! Never forget that!