A Better Life: Full Introduction
Let’s jump right in; this is a life or death situation after all. My name is Amy and I am a recovering heroin addict. Recovery was offered to me through
other recovering addicts, reading books on recovery and most importantly the lessons I have learned through Narcotics Anonymous and life experience. I combined all of these experiences together and wrote this book for myself. That’s right, for me. I had a detailed account and a reference guide to return to over and over again whenever I needed help. Then I sent it to be edited by my grandmother, Dorothy Farmiloe, a published author, poet and retired English professor from Ontario, Canada. She insisted I publish the manuscript and that the world had a right to this information. She was right, I am a selfish person by nature, a defect I try to work on and a common characteristic among addicts.
I began to edit the book and try to make it user friendly for everyone. You will see throughout the book I have tried to link certain words or programs to a specific page on a website so you do not have to navigate around or waste time searching for more information on something. I am new at this so I hope that it is a useful tool for you. It also helped to have a master’s degree in counseling while I was writing unfortunately later on it actually hindered my recovery and contributed to a very vicious relapse.
Do you think you are an addict? Do you think your loved one is an addict? What is the difference between recreational use and addiction? In Narcotics Anonymous there is a free IP called “Am I An Addict?” It is available online and I have linked it, click on it and it will take you directly to the IP and there are some yes or no questions you should take a look at. I is also available in the NA Blue Book.
I knew I was an addict I just did not want to get clean. When I hit rock bottom and I was ready told everyone I was getting clean. It helps to tell everyone, whether they believe you or not. Some may even laugh at you, some maliciously, others thinking you are joking. Telling people that you love and care about, especially those whose approval is important to you such as a parent, brother or sister or maybe even children, is a great motivator in helping you to stay clean. Stop for a moment though and think. It may be a motivator to get you going but hurting them did not stop you from using, do not think that they alone will stop you from using again, it helps to tell on yourself about getting clean, about slipping up, about behaviors and things you have done wrong even while you are not actively using.
Telling people you are going to quit is a suggestion I heard when I tried to quit smoking. The reason is simple, if we fail; we disappoint our loved ones. This may help in moments of weakness to prevent you from picking up when the urge hits you and then you can use relapse prevention tools. One idea, technique or belief is not enough to keep you clean you have to understand that to be successful in recovery. For example, I did not want to disappoint my kids, that has stopped me many times but it was not enough. I had to go further because even though the thought of hurting them stopped me for a second. It would not have stopped me for long if I did not have other ways to prevent me from using. The obsessive thought process has begun, the urge to use is there, suspended for a brief moment so you do not disappoint someone. You have to move fast into your relapse prevention tools or the compulsion to use can drive you to do it. Loved ones had no influence over me whatsoever during active addiction or my relapse. To think that they alone would stop me from using again would be setting myself up for a relapse, it would only be a matter of time. I do not mean to sound heartless or cruel it is just a reality of addiction. I am not saying that it would not work for someone one else, all I can say is I have never witnessed that happening and I do not know or heard of anyone who has. I am saying that for myself and everyone I know the only person that they can stay clean for is themselves.
If you have people in your life that have faith in you and are willing to help you great, they are the beginning of your support network. Ask them for their help, you are going to need them. If you do not have people in your life anymore you can still build a support network. Think of it as it was explained to me. People who cannot or will not help were removed from my life to make room for those who will. Remember though, only you can stay clean and stop yourself from picking up.
Ask yourself these questions, do you want to get clean and stay clean? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get clean? Is there anything preventing you from surrendering completely to your recovery? Can you start today? In Narcotics Anonymous there is a free IP called “Am I An Addict?” It is available online and I have linked it, click on it and it will take you directly to the IP and there are some yes or no questions you should take a look at.
If you are ready then prepare to be uncomfortable for the first week or so, in some cases extremely physically ill and in need of medical attention depending on your drug(s) of choice. My drugs of choice were heroin and crack cocaine. Crack may not have had many physical withdraw symptoms but what it was to me was highly addictive and mentally addictive. Heroin is physically and mentally addictive with some very severe withdraw symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, hot and cold chills, fever, aches, pains and seizures. Withdraw can be very dangerous and even deadly. I have watched many people go through withdraw, I have helped people make it through withdraw but by far the very worst I have ever seen in my life was the “DTs,” alcohol withdraw. Then I felt the withdraw from opiates and benzodiazepines. I had two seizures, I could not eat, sleep and I felt like I had a super flu.
This will be one of the most difficult things but she will do in your life. Take it one day at a time, slow and steady. Use this book to guide you through each day. Stay in the moment and do not think about tomorrow and do not think about the past. Soon you will start to feel better; you look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. You will have energy and enjoy things again. Remember slow and steady, this is not a race this is life or death, this is a journey.
Next write a letter to your addiction. This activity will help you identify with your addiction, say goodbye and it will help give you closure. You are saying farewell to the part of your life that the addiction stole. You are doing this by writing a “Dear John” letter. Some say it feels like losing a family member when they quit using drugs.
When I finally broke down, I needed my boyfriend to help me throw out all my “works.” He sat on the bathroom floor with me and helps me dispose of all the needles properly. Throughout the process I cried hysterically and hugged him. He assured me everything woods going to be all right, I rocked back and forth holding my knees and crying. We sat there on the bathroom floor smashing crack pipes and throwing out needles and the worst part was they had been sitting in my safe for over a month. I was too afraid to open the safe, I’d been clean for over 30 days, it’s supposed to be one of the first things you do when you get clean, get rid of the “works.” I found out later it was a reservation I had in my program which is a subconscious thing you do or hang onto to reserve a place for relapse.
Here is an example of the letter I wrote, it does not have to be as dramatic, just write what and how you feel about your addiction and say goodbye:
You ruined my life. You took everything from me, you made me feel good, then you made me think I could lean you. You tricked me and made me need you. You made me obsess about you. You made me love no one else, not even myself, just you.
I love you, I hate you, look what you’ve done to me. You stall my family, my kids, my home and even my dog. You drained me of everything I ever loved. You made me into a shell, a hollow person just me and you inside.
I win, I thought you beat me, I thought I could live without you can’t guess what heroin, I’d be you. You can’t have me anymore and I have an army of fight and me. You can’t hurt me anymore. I loved you but it’s over now.
Goodbye heroin, never again.
I said what I needed to say and said goodbye. I read it to my family and friends. I read it in my treatment groups, to my counselor, and most of all to myself.
There are other alternatives to quitting cold Turkey for opiate addiction. Withdraw from these drugs can be very dangerous. There is method on weekends treatment, suboxone and subutex treatments, and medical detox. I feel a combination of treatment is most effective. A variety of treatments or treatment programs are available. Recovery is a long process, there is no cure, it is not a race, it is a journey and it is a way of life.
Methadone is an intensive outpatient program monitored by the state and Health Care providers. Most methadone programs require the client to go every day, participate in group therapy, one and one counseling and random drug testing. After a certain amount of clean time the client is eligible for privileges such as reduced time at the clinic. The client is give and take home doses, required to go to less groups, and required to see their counselor less. The client must demonstrate a certain level of need as well to receive these privileges, such as if the client is employed were doing volunteer work, also if they are involved in self-help.
There’s also suboxone maintenance treatment where the patient has monitored by a Physician who prescribes the suboxone to relieve the physical withdraw from opiates and control the cravings of drugs such as heroin and prescription pain medication. The patient is usually required to seek outside counseling as well. They are also required to submit to random drug testing. They are required to report to the physician once every two weeks. After some level of success they only report once a month.
Unfortunately there are waiting lists for these programs. Pregnant women or those with HIV are admitted to the program immediately. Methadone has been studied for years especially the effects on pregnant women and the unborn fetus. The risk is minimal but once the child is born they may suffer some withdrawal and need to be hospitalized.
Suboxone and methadone treatments are sometimes considered replacing one drug for another by the recovering community like alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous. Everyone has different opinions and every person is different. One program can work wonders for one person and as a disaster for another.
There are other medical programs to assist patients with the withdrawing off of drugs and alcohol. These programs help relieve the uncomfortable withdraw symptoms. Ask your doctor or counselor what your options are and what is available to you. You can also do your own research on different treatment programs.
It is a personal choice whether to go medically or cold Turkey. Keep in mind that cold Turkey can be very dangerous and you should consult a Dr. Before considering this option. It all depends on your tolerance and amount of drugs you are taking.
In this book their tools needed to deal with the addiction but it is up to you to accept responsibility for your recovery. These are the building blocks you need to start a healthy sober lifestyle. We will take a look at and reevaluate your values and beliefs, building a support network, your role and responsibility, your self esteem and self worth, goal setting, healthy choices, getting active, awareness, motivation, and your achievement of short term goals.
Mind body and soul check: allow yourself to cry. It is said what has happened and this is not going to be easy. It is scary, frustrating and going to see a great deal of willpower. So, cry, get it out, sadness is a normal human emotion and what you are going through right now is difficult. I suggest you write about your feelings and talk to another recovering addict or loved one.
A Better Life: Tips From Recovering Heroin Addict By Amy McCalister is now available on amazon.com and the following link will take you directly to the book ~
All feedback is encouraged! Please feel free to contact me or comment on your reviews and opinions of the book.
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