If you are an addict and this is another leap off the carousel, the steps may be familiar to you, except the ride has rotated its final revolution. If this is your first go ’round into treatment, there’s an overwhelming amount of information to digest and you can barely keep down a bowl of cereal. Everyone on the epiphany staff who is a recovering addict will tell you one constant truth: the steps saved our lives. This is merely an introduction to those steps, from a recovered addict’s perspective, for the addict who wants to recover.
Steps to Making Treatment Different This Time Around
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable. It’s not a complicated step at all, drugs and alcohol have our number – they are that baseball pitcher that we are 0-37 against, so bad the coach gives us the night off when Stoli Daniels takes the mound. Yet we still beg the coach to get an at-bat: ‘Coach, I’m overdue for a hit! Hell, I might even go yard. So impassioned is the addict’s plea, the coach’s brain relents against his better judgment and puts him in in the bottom of the 5th, to pinch hit with a runner in scoring position. STRIKE ONE! STRIKE TWO! STRIKE THREE! 0-38. Head hung even lower somehow.
Drugs and alcohol are undefeated when their opponents are full-fledged (i.e.-real deal, legitimate, card carrying, etc.) alcoholics and drug addicts. Addiction is an incurable disease, and its patients can at best abstain from all body, mind and mood-altering chemicals. The simple fact is we are different than normal earthlings, who can somehow make the “cut me off” gesture to bartenders or friends doling out rails of cocaine. I cannot. Larger quantities of my drugs of choice (heroin and cocaine) fill me with a sense of relief when I initially score them. That’s going to last me multiple days, no worries on how tomorrow’s supply will need met. Fast forward until around 11:00pm. I am positive that I’ve been up multiple days and nights, judging from the little amount left in each baggie. I walk out of the bathroom and see Sabrina on the bed. That explains it! Now the fear grips, a whole paycheck has not lasted me almost a week; it’s lasted me 10.5 hours. What am I going to do to get more heroin? The coke I don’t need, but the dope is life’s blood. I make up a story, and start calling relatives, praying someone will help me unknowingly kill off the sickness. Drugs and alcohol always WIN.
Step one is that once we start, with just one snort, injection, or drink, we will not stop. It’s not that we lack the logic a pea-sized rat’s brain possess, the ones who touch the hot stove a single time and learn their lesson. It’s that our bodies possess an allergy, but instead of sneezing or wheezing, it’s the best morsel of chocolate cake you have ever tasted, and one word flashes in the brightest neon ever created: “MORE!” Worse, you look around the room, it’d wall to wall cake. When you wake up the next morning, the cake is gone, but the craving is not; it’s 100-fold.
Step one is described many ways. For me, the simplest is that I, and others like me, are made with an ON switch only. Flip it, and my lust for heroin runs full speed. There is no fatigue, no OFF switch, unless an Act of God knocks down the power grid. I am reduced to the basic essentials of life: food, air, and drugs. Eventually food doesn’t really matter, either. This is why you can’t stop. Why, when you get $100 for the power bill, you buy 9 bags of heroin and a pack of cigarettes. Drugs are your existence, your oxygen. They were mine, year after year. Relationships crumbled and in the end, it was me, all alone, far away from what got me high, and so close to figuring out that what I needed, was peace.