We welcome stories from people about how they have overcome struggles with addiction and turned their lives around.
This is Trevor’s story
People become addicts for different reasons.
In my case, throughout childhood and my teenage years, I couldn’t handle the inevitability of circumstances out of my control, and I never wanted to confront the things that truly hurt me.
Therefore, I turned to external factors to suppress pain, stress, and most of all – sadness. Naturally, I welcomed whatever outlet took the pain away with open arms – especially drugs and alcohol.
As a child, I had severe ADHD (Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) which destroyed my self-esteem and perception of self-worth. Failing to do simple things such as take tests and put together a box of supplies was mortifying, which genuinely made feel me I was stupid.
Making friends was so awkward for me because I could never hold a conversation. Bullies never let me forget that I was the “retarded one” in my class.
But most of all, I didn’t understand nor had the ability to comprehend what ADHD was as a child and why I was being teased so much, which made me feel even more alone and inferior.
Eventually, I came to believe I truly was stupid and inadequate because I felt that way for so long – and this mindset never changed as I was growing up.
When I got drunk and high for the first time during a party in high school, I felt an immediate and frightening comfort in being numb, sedated, and separated from reality.
Drugs and alcohol shut down every crippling and depressing thought in my mind, and I thought that was what peace felt like.
When you’re so absorbed and isolated in your pain – years worth of pain – it doesn’t matter how you escape from it – as long as you do. The days and years following that party propelled me to start experimenting with harder, illegal drugs and any other substance I could get my hands on.
I was willing to do whatever it took to get my fix, and I stopped caring about the world around me and my well-being.
This was my cycle: wandering into the wrong crowds and parties, avoiding problems and insecurities, getting wasted, and doing it all over again when I had the chance.
Then came adulthood and living on my own.
Despite having a job, I even began to sell whatever was in my home, regardless if it had any emotional or sentimental attachment to me. The things that were important to me in my life no longer had any value except for the fact that selling them became a gateway to buy more drugs.
I also gave my time to individuals who were equally as destructive, and we fed off each other’s insecurities and behaviors to bring ourselves even lower together.
Misery loves its company, right?
I ultimately separated myself from reliable acquaintances, a few friends, and family I’ve developed relationships with over the years, despite knowing deep down they cared about me and loved me more than I ever deserved during my years of addiction. But sadly, drugs and drinking were always still more important.
The breaking point that forced me to look my addiction in the face was when I was suddenly hospitalized for overdosing on opioids.
I was milligrams away from death. I wept when the doctor told me that I needed to go into a rehabilitation program because I was going to end up accidentally or purposely killing myself one day. I’d had near death experiences, but this was the most real it ever felt.
I went to my local rehab program exactly a week later knowing full-well that my running away was done.
It’s an understatement when I say the most difficult struggle I faced in addiction recovery was confronting my emotions and non-existent self-esteem and accepting my ADHD – and forgiving myself for the past.
Nothing in this world compares to the journey of rebuilding your self-worth from the ground up.
When you avoid your problems for so long, you eventually begin to believe in the lie that they can be avoided forever. However, I will gladly say I’m still undergoing therapy talking about my past issues and rebuilding a foundation of self-worth and rewiring the affirmations I tell myself every day.
I’ve been proudly sober for two years!
I also began to attend support groups and found people who shared similar stories with me.
It was ridiculously uncomfortable at first, but I eased up and began talking when someone else admitted they wanted to run away from things too. Support groups are necessary for recovery. Not only are they a community of people who empathize with your past, you learn things you never knew you needed until they were said.
Because I regularly started to attend support groups, I abandoned “friends” from the past because they only continued to spiral. While we also shared the same or similar problems, my “friends” just wanted to justify their destructive behaviors with the fact that there are others like them – and I didn’t want to be a part of that anymore.
Surprisingly, I started to volunteer at the animal shelter in my neighborhood and even adopted a dog myself. I don’t know what it is about pets, but maybe it’s the fact that they’re so unapologetically loving and happy to see you, regardless of the mistakes you have made that day.
It makes me believe I can have that same love and kindness for myself someday.
In conclusion, feeling isolated with your negative thoughts and emotions is one of the worst experiences in the world, and to whoever is reading this – I understand, and I want you to know that you are genuinely never alone.
Loneliness can fuel self-destructive behavior, and you deserve better than allowing yourself to be dragged down into darkness. There will always be someone who is willing to help you and cares about your existence. Please find them.
Last and certainly not least, you need to give yourself more credit, believe in your capabilities, and fight for a life you deserve. No matter your circumstances in life, there is always a right way to overcome them and live with them- and I promise you that’s the truth.
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable. http://trevormcdonald.me
If you would like to share your story, please write to [email protected] with the subject line “What’s your story?”