This is just a small example of how strong my dependency and abuse was. Just the fact, that money went into the account at the beginning of the month, resulted in me rewarding myself.
In this way my day was completely spun in a web of habits and rituals, which all meant that I needed to take drugs, pills, and other things constantly. Everything could trigger my “home ice cream bell”. When money had entered my account. If money hadn’t arrived in my account, I would console myself with drugs and medicine.
Me, Martin and my little sister Susan
When I opened the fridge, and it was empty, I had to console myself with drugs. When I arrived home from Walmart after shopping, and with everything under control, I needed to reward myself, because I had been so good. When I was working, I was taking drugs and pills once an hour. Then I could reward myself with the fact that an assignment had been well completed.
If an assignment was challenging and teasing, I would console myself with drugs. Just before sex or just after sex, before a football match, and after a football match-there was always a habit or a ritual, which could trigger the effect that I needed consolation or a reward, with drugs or something else chemical.
My dependency and my abuse of drugs, pills, medicine, alcohol and lots more, was interwoven in every feeling, every experience and mood. Irrespective of where I was, who I was together with, and what was happening; there was always a reason to take something. I was constantly in need of taking something. I was always in need of being rewarded or consoled, because If I didn’t do that, or if I didn’t obey the rituals and habits-and if I didn’t take my drugs, then I became ill.
If I got withdrawal symptoms, sweating, cold spells, shaking, or had pains all over, or couldn’t stand light, sounds or people, and further I vomited, had diarrhea, and couldn’t eat or drink anything. Could only lie in bed, but couldn’t stand it. On top of that were all the psychological withdrawal symptoms. Paranoia, I slept with a 120cm axe under my bed, because I thought that everyone wanted to do me harm. I felt lonely, which words can’t describe. All these negative feelings, and all the crap the drugs sedated, blossomed when I had withdrawal symptoms – I couldn’t stand that many days in a row.
I see all these habits and rituals as “my abuse”. It’s the nail on the head, what my misuse contained. Also that what my life consisted of, every single day during a 13 year time span. And a little more. I constantly tried at console and reward myself, and at all costs to avoid having withdrawal symptoms. Several times I was able to stop my abuse for a short period of time. One day, some hours, a week. Or something. Often because a girlfriend, or just myself, wished it. I have also been to the doctor some times to ask for help. I have even been on a five weeks Minnesota-treatment stay, to get out of my abuse and addictions.
I view all these habits and rituals as “my abuse”. It’s the head on the nail, of what my abuse was about. This is what my life contained every single day for 13 years. And a bit more. I was constantly seeking and trying to reward myself, in order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.
Several times I was able to stop my abuse for some time. A day, some hours, a week. After 24-36 hours the withdrawal symptoms came back, and I had no resilience to withstand the urge. Also all the habits and rituals connected to the addictions were pulling me back, so in order to remove the withdrawal symptoms, and remove the negative thoughts and feelings, and return back to the “secure” addiction habits and rituals, I started taking the drugs again.
Some times a week went by, where I tried to keep my “drug-stop”. I infused myself with Paracetamol and other pills, which I didn’t view as abuse. After a week or two, I was back using the usual drugs, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Codeine, Ketogan, Kodimagnyl, Nobligan etc. That reaffirmed me that I couldn’t stop my abuse-and continued as if nothing had happened.
I couldn’t stop my abuse, because I wasn’t ready.
- I wasn’t able to cope with the feelings and thoughts, that lay subdued in me.
- I wasn’t ready to change my life.
- I was not ready to change my habits and rituals.
- I was not ready to admit, that I had a problem and I needed help.
- I was not ready to accept, that I couldn’t solve the issue on my own.
- I wasn’t ready to be honest.
- I was not ready to put priority on addiction treatment.
- I was not ready to look at myself, and sense my own bad conscience.
- I was not ready to stop my abuse and addictions.
- I wasn’t ready.
- I couldn’t stop my abuse, because I wasn’t ready.
I have tried to stop my abuse and addictions 10-20 times. Sometimes it lasted for an hour, other times it lasted for five weeks. Similarly with all of them is, that It always ended up with experiencing relapses, and the reinstatement of my abuses and addictions, my habits and my routines. It was difficult breaking the path of addiction.
I do not see relapse as failure. I see relapse as part of the “breaking-addiction-equation”. For me relapse is an important sign that will tell you, you made a wrong decision and you should learn from it – and get back on track again. I spend 5 years and more than 4 attempts and hundreds of relapses, before I completed my last treatment and actually became drug-free.
World of warcraft elf priestess
After I had been an addict for 13 years, and every day had been sedating myself with all kinds of drugs, medicine and alcohol. Finally when I had burnt all bridges, and was sitting in a dire room in Southern Zeeland (Denmark) alone, Only when my mother, grandfather and uncle were dead. Only when one of my friends had died of an overdose. Only when I had moved more than 20 times, and had been sacked by numerous employers. Also when I had hurt a million people around me, including my best friends, and my loved family. Only after I had tried to take my life three times. Only when I had nothing to lose, and no other way out of the demise, but to die alone in my room from drug abuse and addiction. It was then that I was ready to look the demon in the eye, and take up the fight.
When I look back at my relapses, I see them as signs “calling” for help. Some of them at least. I became slightly wiser every time I tried to stop my abuse. It took several attempts before I was able to know how to deal with it. In hindsight, it’s clear for me to see, where I made the mistakes, but what is so ironic was, that I couldn’t avoid the mistakes. It was all my mistakes and battles, that made me strong enough to manage my last treatment, and which is contributing to the clear and correct path that I follow today.
When I speak to active abusers and addicts today, who wish to stop their abuse and break their habits, then I share all my best advice and experiences with them. Some of what I’m saying makes sense, some not. Some end up by being “clean”. Others don’t.
I always try to support the best I can, which I have learnt, so that one more addict can get out of their addiction. I also speak openly about relapses, and that’s often part of the equation. A relapse is very hard for the individual and the surroundings and the relatives. Physically-one can die of it. Also mentally, because one affirms to oneself that one is a failure.
I see relapses as difficult to avoid. I see the addiction process and abuse as a stairway. Every step one takes up the stairway, brings one closer towards the light and freedom. Closer towards the life without drugs, alcohol, and everything else. When one experiences relapses, I view it as a step down the stairway.
One does not have to fall down, as one has the opportunity to gain experiences and become just a little wiser every time one tries to become drug free. In my opinion, It’s not necessarily catastrophic to have a relapse. t’s a step down, but not all the way down. For every relapse one takes, it’s also an indication that one is in the process of trying to get drug free, and in one way could be viewed as being further up the ladder. I feel that is positive.
It’s clear that one can’t continue. Many addicts end up by dying of their relapses, as they might be drug free for a week, a month, a year-and then they have a relapse, where they take the same dosage as they are used to, and the drug free body is not accustomed to that, thereby possibly causing death.
Relatives often ask me: “what can I do as a relative”?.
Let me start by saying, I do not have all the answers, but I have a pretty good idea. Many relatives feel a responsibility to help the addict/drug user. Many are in doubt about the right solution. It’s important to say, that drug use and drug abuse is the responsibility of the addict and abuser. As a last resort, it’s only the addict and abuser who can help themselves. Support from the environment and surroundings have great value.
In connection with the feeling of responsibility and duty, there of course is a difference between being a parent, lover, friend, or have another relationship to the addict. Unfortunately there (highly likely) isn’t a universal solution to the issue, which can solve all challenges and problems, which drug users can be exposed to.
There are two main paths within drug treatment (and relative relations), which present general suggestions about how treatment can be administered.
The drug free path, and the injury reduction direction. Both paths wish the best for the drug user and relatives, but the focus of solutions and resources are different.
Drug free path.
Proponents of the drug free path have liberation from drug use as their absolute goal. Drugs are seen as the evil, that don’t contribute anything positive for the drug addict. As a relative the best help offered, is not to support drug use: what in the drug free path is also called “co- dependency”. Support can consist of lending money, shelter, or anything that makes it easier for the addict to continue the drug taking.
The argumentation goes that the relatives can lose contact with themselves and their own needs, when focus is on the drug addicts present needs. If the relatives are able to close the door to the addict, in metaphorical sense and in real action, then the drug addict can hit “rock bottom”, and thereby understand the gravity of the situation, which in turn can force him or her to make a decision about becoming drug free. The “distancing” from the relatives point of view to the addict, can bring back a sense of being able to feel themselves and live their own lives. The relatives can also help the addict from a distance, on their own terms, without losing themselves along the path.
The damage reduction path.
The damage reduction path has another approach to drugs and drug users. The key words are acceptance, respect and neutrality.
Respecting the fact that the drug user has chosen to take drugs, without actually supporting this choice. It can be very difficult for the relatives to accept, that the drugs can contribute anything positive to the addict. Nobody would take any drugs if it didn’t give them some sort of benefit.
Many relatives that I have been in contact with, have achieved an improved relationship with the drug addict, after having met the addict in “their court”, and declared an acceptance of the fact, that the drugs in one way or another have a positive effect. As a relative it can be experienced as a relief, to stop the fight to convince the drug addict, that he/she should be drug free. Instead one can focus on which boundaries one wishes to have in relationship to the addict. As an example one can say that one doesn’t want any drugs to be consumed in one’s home, or that the addict should not be heavily intoxicated when they visit.
The other key word, respect, is about the access to the drug user and his/her behaviour. Everybody has a need to be met with respect, also including the drug/abuser. It’s natural for relatives to wish for an explanation and maybe an apology from the drug user, but on the contrary the drug user can experience these wishes as respect less and degrading. If the relative meets the drug abuser in respect as a person, who is responsible for one’s own behaviour, then the risk of conflicts is reduced.
The last keyword; neutrality, is relevant in connection with being drug free. All the relatives naturally wish that the drug abuser will become drug free. Often the drug abuser and addict have the same goal, but that doesn’t mean that the goal of becoming drug free is something that is achievable in the short run. Therefore it can be more beneficiary to prioritise short term realistic goals, f.ex. a reduction in drug consumption. This achieved, instead of the drug user and relatives being defeated in the aspiration of achieving unrealistic goals. Small and realistic goals, can give the drug user and relatives some successful achievements, and strengthen the bonds between them.
As a relative it is important to speak to the family member who is the abuser and addict, and find out which goals and aspirations he/she has? Does the abuser and drug addict wish to become drug free? Or does the drug consumer wish for a “damage reduction” life, where drugs still play a role? Hereafter one has to decide as a relative, how one wants to support or not support the drug taker.
It’s clear, that there is a difference whether ones 15 year old son lives at home, smokes hash and takes cocaine in their room, or whether it’s ones work colleague who is drinking too much.
As a starting point there is no final result list, or anything “right” or “wrong”. As I see it, one has to be able to speak openly and honestly, with respect for each other, and then see where it leads to. It’s very individualistic and needs special attention and treatment.
My loving dad Lars. He loves to go fishing.
What didn’t help me (actually increased my abuse) was when my family tried to control me, check me out, and go behind my back, sift through my things, and show mistrust towards me in a negative fashion. When somebody said:” Stop now with those drugs, it’s foolish”. I then just continued. Remember, I have hated myself most of my life, and I have tried to take my life on many occasions. It didn’t help me when people told me, that I was an idiot. I knew that.
What helped me (and helped me finally), was when my surroundings confronted me honestly with my stupid behavior, and indicated the consequences that it had for them. When others showed me compassion and caring worry. When somebody said: “When you don’t come to Christmas Eve as arranged, it makes me sad, and that’s unfortunate, because I love you and want to be with you”. No accusations, just taking note of the consequences ones behavior has on others.
It’s clear, that when my relatives pointed at me and told me, that what I was doing was wrong; I then moved away, isolated myself and took more drugs.
When this was done with respect, the words planted themselves in me, and it was these words that finally managed to inspire me out of my abuse. The awareness that my family was there to support me, if I took initiative myself-this helped me to manage and complete my last treatment without a relapse.
Please note, that I am aware that my experiences and my knowledge does not work for everyone. A lot of lectures, e-mails and phone calls since 2010 from other addicts and relatives tells me that some of the stuff I am sharing, actually helps other people. My words and details enable humans to identify themselves with their own life and their own issues, and make it possible for them to change their life.
That is the whole reason I am doing this.
Thank you for reading all of this.
Best regards from Martin