27 February 2013

The nature of the disease

Addiction sucks. It doesn't just destroy the lives of addicts; it also destroys the lives of those who love addicts.

I'm one of the fortunate ones. I have found freedom from active addiction. Just for today, I never have to use again. Just for today, I have a chance of dying with this disease instead of FROM this disease.

Not all addicts are so lucky. Many addicts will die from the disease of addiction.

Last week, one of my friends died from this disease. I met this guy while I was involved in structured service. I loved this guy to pieces; he was funny, he was sweet, he was the miracle.

However, he quit treating his disease and he relapsed. He was found dead last week.

I have been sad, afraid, and grateful since hearing the news. I am sad because I have lost a friend. I am afraid because his death is a reminder that no addict is immune to relapse--not even me. I am grateful because I am clean today.

It's hard being an addict. In the almost 8 years that I have been clean, I have seen hundreds, possibly thousands, of people come into the rooms of 12-step fellowships. Of those multitudes of people, a few have stayed for some length of time. Of those few, a very small percentage have actually stayed clean.

Losing a friend to the disease of addiction has been like a nuclear shock to my psyche. I don't know why; we're addicts, and the nature of addicts is to use dope. That doesn't make it any less painful when a friend relapses and dies. It doesn't make it any less frightening for me; after all, I have this disease too. It isn't a disease that wants me dead; it is a disease that wants me alive and using and miserable. It is a disease that doesn't discriminate; it doesn't give a shit what color I am, what god I do or don't worship, what language I speak, or where I find love. This disease doesn't care whether I am short or tall, fat or skinny. It is a disease that is progressive and fatal and incurable. The best I can hope for is a daily reprieve from the horrors of addiction.

I am mourning the loss of my friend. To have seen someone experience the joys of recovery is one of life's most precious gifts for someone who has walked through the hell we addicts have walked through. To see that same someone relapse and die is a brutal reminder that the hell we addicts have walked through is still there, waiting for my return.

Losing my friend to the disease of addiction makes me want to go grab another recovering addict and hang on like my life depends on it. Ultimately, my life DOES depend on other recovering addicts. Together, we can do what none of us can do alone--stay clean for one more day.

I will end by sharing with you the message of Narcotics Anonymous and the one promise that N.A. offers.

N.A offers only one promise: freedom from active addiction (Basic Text, fifth edition, page 102, I think second paragraph). That seems so simple and so minimalist, doesn't it? Yet along with that freedom come many gifts. I can't even begin to count the gifts that recovery has brought me. One promise, many gifts.

Our message is simple. It is this: that an addict, any addict, can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. I once heard that message broken down so beautifully that it would make sense to anyone who heard it; I won't attempt to do that right here. I will say that the guy who broke it down had used a dictionary and it really was the most unbelievable speaker I have heard to date in the fellowship. That message seems complicated, yet is is so simple. A junkie, any junkie, can stop using dope, lose the desire to use dope, and find a new way to live. That, my friends, is a message of hope.

The message is hope, the promise is freedom.

I'm going to go find some hope and I am going to hang on to it for dear life.

Because when one of my friends from recovery dies of an overdose, the future looks bleak indeed. None of us addicts are immune to relapse. I'm going to go hug an addict like my life depends on it, and I am going to find that CD I have of that speaker breaking down our message--because my life depends on that too.

And I am going to grieve my friend.

Addiction sucks ass.

20 comments:

  1. Oh Cindy, I am so sorry for your loss and what you are going through right now. You are so strong and amazing. Take care of yourself, love.

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    1. Thank.you for being here! #thisiswhyiloveyou

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  2. Cindy, I'm so sorry for your loss. (((warm hugs))) You are brave and strong and amazing and #thisiswhyiloveyou. I think taking some time to look for hope is an amazing idea.

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  3. Cindy, I'm so sorry. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. I'm sending you lots of love and hugs right now. <3

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    1. I'm hoping to get to head that way soon, for some shopping and time with my superhero. I love you!

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  4. I'm sorry. I'm hugging you from here. xoxo

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    1. Thank you! I love you too, you know. (((hugs)))

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  5. HUGS. I'm so sorry about your friend. That is so tough to watch and experience, I know. I hope your friend's legacy will help you in your journey to stay healthy.

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    1. Crys, it has helped me already. It has reminded me that I must chase recovery like I used to chase dope. Thank you for being my friend; I love you!

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  6. Oh, honey, I'm sorry for your loss. You will find the hope and the strength to cling to it - I have no doubt about that. Sending you much love and many hugs.

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    1. Cathi, I draw a lot of strength from you; and so much hope. You have seen some of my skeletons & shit-stomping fits & you love me anyway. For someone like me, that is huge beyond words. #thisiswhyiloveyou

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  7. I love you hard, Cindy and I am so grateful to have you in my life. Addiction sucks ass and you're right, it doesn't discriminate. It's a bitch. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I sending you a ton of hug and love and loads of hope. You are strong and you are loved more than words can say. xoxoxo

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    1. I love you too, more than words can say!

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  8. Sending you a big bouquet of good-thought flowers and solidarity. Staying on the straight and narrow is not always easy, even if it is the only way to be okay. I'm sending thoughts and condolences to everyone who loved your friend too. <3

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    1. Thank you, Karen. #thisiswhyiloveyou

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    2. thanks. Days like today, here and there, days that really challenge us, I just want to teleport myself over to your magic school bus and crawl under the covers with you. Not in THAT way, just for the comfort of a cuddle. Some days are hard, yo.

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    3. They are hard. The magic bus is here if you need it. (((hugs)))

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  9. Sending you love, Cindy. ALL my love.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Your words here, about hope and freedom, are beautiful. It is exactly what I wish for you to have every day.

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    1. Thank you, Tracie! I'm getting through it, thanks to the help of my friends and their love!

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