The hopeful side of my addiction – Drug use is not always a dead end street

I was sitting around with some friends last night talking about old times over dinner.

I think it’s sad that the most commonly seen face of addiction and of drug use in general is that of failure. We see it on the news, in the tabloids, and it seems to seep into our minds.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising given the overly negative tone of the media in this country overall, but as I was talking with my friends last night, it dawned on me:

Even though we’ve all seen the uglier side of life, even though some of us made it down to a place those around us thought we’d never come back from, here we are, well and healthy, and back on the other side.

As I’d mentioned before, I’m working on a book that details my travels down the rabbit hole and back. Last night was proof that these stories need to be heard. Although coming back from drug use, even heavy use, even addictive use, is not easy; it is possible, even common.

I’m sick of the stigma of “lost cause”, especially because I think it’s so unjustified. There are so many that walk around us having conquered what most still think is a death sentence. It’s time to dispel the myth.

Beyond my addiction: Allowing myself to be proud of my achievements

This is a more personal post than I’m used to writing, but I think the thoughts in it are shared by many addicts, so I’d like to share it. I originally posted it on my personal blog:

It’s sad, but for the most part, I focus on the things I haven’t yet done and not on what I’ve already accomplished.

When I think about it for a few seconds, it’s staggering just how much I’ve managed to do in my 32 years here:

  • I spent my first 14 years having a wonderful childhood
  • I only let my obsessions during those years take over sometimes
  • I moved to a new country and made myself at home again
  • I dug myself out of a severe depression episode
  • I made it through college somehow in a haze of drinking and drug use
  • I moved myself out to Los Angeles without knowing a soul and made a life there
  • I’ve run a recording studio, a record label, and made my own music
  • I’ve DJ’d and put out two records
  • I’ve broken my leg and learned how to walk again
  • I held my head high through a brutal court case
  • I made my way through rehab, overcoming my addiction to crystal meth
  • I made it through months in jail
  • I’ve managed to stay drug free since those two events
  • I’ve gotten myself back into school
  • I received two Master’s degrees with endless honors and awards
  • I’m steps away from finishing my PhD
  • I’ve secured a book deal to publish my memoir/lessons from addiction (still struggling with the writing of that one)
  • I’ve published more than 10 articles, 2 book chapters, and given dozens of presentations at national and international addiction conferences
  • I found the love of my life and am working hard to make my damaged ego last through a real relationship

I often take these things for granted, but it’s good to write them down. It lets me know just how grateful I should be for even being here, let alone standing upright and proud.

I’m lucky.