Friday, February 4, 2011

When Addiction Gets Real

"I WAS addicted to oxycontin, but I detoxed and have been clean for about a year." There is no such thing as a past-tense addict. Addiction is a lifelong battle against a disease.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around addiction being a disease, but I want to understand. His addiction is not personal, about the relationship or even a choice. It may have been a choice the first few times they used, but there is a brain connection missing that was either not there to begin with or destroyed by the substance being abused. This connection or lack thereof, divides the addictive personalities from the non-addictive personalities.

A year and a quarter into our relationship, my boyfriend relapsed. Prior to this, the addiction had not shown itself. I had no concept of the severity, pain and struggle of recovery, but I was about to find out.

At first, I wondered why he would make choices that he knew would hurt him, emotionally and physically. It didn't make sense. Why couldn't he just fight through the withdrawal and get it over with? How many times would I have to watch him suffer through withdrawal if he kept using drugs as a crutch? This pain was his fault. He did this to himself, so shouldn't he have the strength to undo it?

He realized the severity of his struggle after attempting to detox on his own and failing. He finally talked with his parents and they began looking for treatment. Treatment is not always readily available and can cost a pretty penny. Treatment decisions should be made carefully and according to the needs of the addict and this may take a little time. After about a month, he started an outpatient program that met three times a week for four hours.

He is finishing up his outpatient treatment and will soon be moving on to the next step. I am anxious to find out how committed he is to attending NA meetings and staying clean and sober. Right now, he doesn't seem to think alcohol and pot are a problem and that he can go back to these for special occasions. I fear he's going to have to learn that the hard way that complete sobriety is the answer.

Only time will tell. Until next time.

- addictsgf

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