Martin Fritzen (me)
Let me start by introducing myself, so that you know more about my background and the prerequisites I have to write on this subject.
My name is Martin and I’ll start by giving you the short version. I’m a young man born in a rural area of Denmark in 1976. I am studying at the moment (2015) and in the last years I have been working with sales and marketing in some of the largest media companies in Denmark. I also travel around as a motivational speaker to share my story on my experiences with drugs and addiction.
I have lived as an addict for more than 13 years. I have tried to stop my addiction several times, yet it took me several years before I was successful. I know how difficult the cravings can be, and therefore I have been advising and guiding people on the subject since 2009. More specifically, I try to help addicts with how they can break their addiction and manage their withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
My parents divorced when I was one and a half years old. My mother was an alcoholic and as a child I saw and experienced things that children should not witness. Everything from being beaten by my mother’s violent partners, to calling an ambulance when she had been beaten up or had just fallen over in drunken haze. I have even watched my mother literally run over a person—who had stalked us—with her car.
As an 8 year old, I had to learn how to cook, do laundry, wake up on my own and go to school–and yes, manage my own life. This is what children in dysfunctional families learn to deal with on their own. I was lucky that I had some good friends and grandparents around me who helped take care of me when things were really bad when growing up. I owe my current, drug-free, and happy life to these people and relationships for their love and compassion throughout my childhood and life.
I won’t delve deeper into my childhood, but I do want to emphasize that I experienced a life that no child should encounter. These experiences left me with deep emotional wounds and scars and were a contributing factor to my drug and pill addictions.
About my addictions:
My addiction to drugs started when I was 19 years old. One day I had a headache and my mother had a solution. She always had a “pharmacy” in her bathroom and I guarantee you, that headache disappeared. I was given two Codeine pills, which alleviated my headache immediately and made me feel alert and happy. It quickly became a habit to take a few pills every now and then. I soon learned that the pills had a preventative effect; I could take some Codeine pills in advance and never get a headache. That is how I started taking Codeine pills daily.
Within a short time, I was consuming 20-30 pills a day either by eating or drinking them. I had to take four pills at one time in order to get a slight rush. And in the later stages of my addiction, I was consuming 40-60 pills a day, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. That’s how I lived for more than 13 years, every day.
I constantly abused painkillers like Codeine, Ketogan, Nobligan, Chadian, Panodil, Methadone and many more. My preferred drugs were substances that were morphia derivatives, i.e. Codeine, Nobligan and Kodimagnyl, all of which the body converts to morphia-like substances. I combined these drugs with a lot of alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine and hashish. The pills were my daily ritual irrespective of if I had a girlfriend, or was single, had a job, or was studying, or at times on sick leave. It was done irrespective of whether I was in the US, or living in a small dirty room in Copenhagen. Irrespective of what my life looked like, I had to consume 30-60 pills a day to avoid withdrawals and craving symptoms.
Over the years I have hurt many people, especially my family. I have lied, stolen, and been in court more than once. I have had girlfriends, lived alone, had money, and been pretty poor. But despite what my daily life, I had one mission: to make sure that I had enough drugs and pills for the next day, and the day after.
What did the drug and pill abuse do to me?
When a drug –whether in the form of pills, cocaine, alcohol, gambling, sex, money, or power—is about control, it takes center stage in your life. In other words, it takes your attention away from any-and everything else. You become consumed by the necessity to always have access to the drugs. I could be a loving partner or good colleague for six months or a year, or maybe two weeks, as long as I had my drugs. When I didn’t have the drugs, the most important thing was to get hold of more as fast as possible. This is where the lies, theft, and lack of consideration for other people began.
At a certain point I was lying to everybody, including those that I love. I was also in denial. I no longer felt my internal moral compass guiding me. I no longer felt anything when I lied or stole from those closest to me.
Then the infidelity and unemployment began. I lost my friends and family; they no longer wanted to see me. Slowly I was entangled in a mixture of useless self-pity and unconscious defense mechanisms, which were claiming that my addiction was the fault of others. I remember quite clearly sitting, telling a girlfriend, that I had been to the doctor with an ear infection and that the doctor had prescribed certain painkillers, voilà! Of course this wasn’t true.
I had three options:
1) To admit to myself that I was an addict – and seek help.
2) To be so consumed by guilt and self-pity, to the point where I would not admit that I had a problem.
3) To accept that I had an addiction issue, and live with it.
An addict has to choose for himself, and I have tried all three options.
Many years ago I thought that I could live with the pills and addiction on a daily basis. That’s how many people live with arthritis, so I should be able to do the same, right? In the latter stages of my addiction I had severe stomach pain, which prompted me to choose option 1: admit to myself that I had a problem and seek help.
I have gone through phases where I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have an addiction issue. I tried to rid myself of the drugs and pills on several occasions, but I had to give up because of withdrawal and craving symptoms. I spoke to several doctors who didn’t think I had an addiction problem, and even more who prescribed tons of medication and pills without any of my lies or stories.
I attended a full session of Minnesota treatment, where I was unable to become 100% clean. I have also been through the local municipality’s healthcare program–alcohol treatment center and addiction center.
A few years ago I lost a close friend who meant a lot to me. Once again, I had to move into a dingy one-room apartment. One day, while I was opening a jar of pills, I looked at myself in the mirror and started crying. Was this really my life? Was this really how I was going to live?
Hell no! I refuse to! Then I thought to myself, I might as well die. Should I just take my own life? Was there any hope at all?
This is where resources, personality and experience come in—and a lot of other issues. Many people choose differently at this point. I chose to look up “drug addiction” in the telephone book. Then I contacted the local addiction treatment center, where I was met with warmth and understanding. Finally, I decided to start with a medicinal addiction reduction treatment. I also began physical and mental treatment sessions in the addiction treatment center.
I have never done anything better for myself than to take myself seriously and do something about my addiction.
From 1976 until now, many experiences, events and people have played a role and influenced my identity today. My experience is that, you need to take responsibility for the decisions that are necessary to achieve your goals in life.
The problem is that you cannot say to an addict, “Pull yourself together man! Go to the treatment center and get help,” or, “We will pay for your treatment and send you away for six weeks, and you will come back sober and clean.” You can try that and the addict can go to treatment, but if the addict is not going on his/her own will or is not motivated, it will not last or become a permanent solution.
I have tried it myself. I have experienced it with my mother and I have seen it many times in the “drug-free” network. When the addict himself does not initiate treatment, he may experience difficulty in quitting, or may not be successful in the long term.
Thank you for reading this far.
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