A Way Out

She was only ten years old when her drug use began.  Both of her parents were active addicts.  She smoked marijuana, drank a lot and took, among other things, Percocet and Vicodin, and she became anorexic, bulimic, and she began to cut herself.  She found herself living in a shelter, at age thirteen, with her mother and younger sister.  After police intervention, she went to live with her dad.  His drugs of choice were uppers.  They became hers too.  Eventually she ran away from her dad and wound up with her grandparents.  Her plunge into addiction continued.  She entered the criminal justice system and was placed in a treatment facility.  There she encountered a treatment counselor who refused to give up on her.  After a while, she had an epiphany:

I finally got on my knees and prayed.  I don’t think I actually said anything, and if I did I don’t remember it.  But I got this overwhelming sense that even though my lawyer, my PO, Rudy, my friends, and my family could all give up on me… God wouldn’t.  So I wasn’t going to give up on myself.[1]

It paid off.  She said that “nothing’s been easy, but recovery is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  There wasn’t a specific event that saved my life; it was my own spirituality and surrender that did it. I know without a doubt in my heart that if I’d continued using I’d be dead. Not in trouble, not in jail—dead.

He was well into his Ph.D. in respiratory medicine at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, having already earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters in Health Science.  He was a prolific writer.  And he suffered from migraines.  For those, he went to see the medical school’s doctor.  In eight months, he was prescribed over 6,000 controlled substance pills, to help him stay awake and study, to help him sleep, for anxiety, and for pain. He believed his intellect would protect him from addiction.  It didn’t.  As a result, he was forced to drop out of his Ph.D. program after 15 years of work.  He was trapped in life due to the severity of his addiction.  He was caught forging a prescription for Demerol, for which he lost his job.  He went doctor shopping to acquire drugs.  Ultimately he realized that, if he wanted a way out of his addiction, he would require a year in a long term residential program where he could work on his addiction issues every day.  The program worked.[2]

Door… Egress… Escape… Exit… Loophole… Opening… Outlet… Vent… Window.  All of these are ways out of what might otherwise be considered an impenetrable situation.  Think of these items in the context of addiction.  They all fit.

As the two examples above reveal, addiction can be considered a prison cell.  It provides little or no freedom, although anyone who is in it may misperceive it as a sustainable way of life.  Anybody who reaches the point where they realize they are prisoners of addiction would want to get out.  They would recognize that have missed out on important, as well as every day, life events.  Conversely, those who live in the illusion of their addiction actually live in denial of the limitations on their lives and of themselves.  So, what to do?  Where to turn?

The subjects above each took a different path.  One found a counselor who wouldn’t let go and the other, after much prompting, realized that his life and his life’s work had been forsaken in the name of his addiction.  Finding the resolve, the internal fortitude, to seek a way out is hard.  Once that is complete, the next hard step in pursuit of a way out is to find, commit to and stay in a treatment program.  Work your Twelve Steps.  Find a sponsor.  Stick with it.



[1] “True Story: Savannah.” Savannah: A True Story of Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery. 2 Oct. 2012. Web. <http://www.phoenixhouse.org/news-and-views/true-stories/true-story-savanna/>.

[2] Loffert, David. “From Hopkins to Homeless: My True Story of Prescription Drug Addiction – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. 5 Dec. 2014. Web. <http://www.drugfree.org/stories-of-hope/hopkins-homeless-true-story-prescription-drug-addiction/>.

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