Genetic predisposition. That’s what they call it. Some of us have a genetic predisposition for addiction. Looking back, I’ve always been prone to addictions of one form or another. In high school it was weight loss. At one point I was losing a pound a day. It was euphoric to see the scale go down. I graduated weighing 96 pounds. And, of course, later in life, I became addicted to alcohol. There are things that happen during the throes of alcoholism that I’d like to try and explain.
- Drinking wasn’t fun. Not anymore. I wasn’t drinking for the fun little buzz that first got me drinking. I was drinking to feel comfortable in my own skin. It worked until it didn’t.
- “If you loved us you would quit.” I wish. I was incapable of quitting by myself. It took a twelve step program, an online support group, friends, therapy and a psychiatrist to help me quit. I tried so hard to quit by myself.
- It’s hard. 5 % of people trying to get sober make it. So if you know someone in long term sobriety, they are the exception, not the rule.
- I couldn’t stand myself. You know how you say, “I’ll start that diet on Monday,”? Then you don’t and you feel kind of bad. I would tell myself every day that tomorrow I wouldn’t drink. So every day, I felt like a failure.
- Addiction thrives on isolation. If I didn’t show up when I said I would, if I missed an event, it wasn’t because I didn’t care. Sometimes I felt paralyzed and couldn’t leave my house.
- It’s not about willpower. Some people think that if you want to quit you can if you have enough willpower. I trained and ran a marathon. I get discipline. I had to get help and I had to change from the inside out in order to quit drinking.
- I don’t regret my alcoholism. I regret things I did and people I hurt, but I don’t regret the fact that I am an alcoholic. I am grateful that I got the chance to heal and take care of things in my life that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
- I will always be making amends. My life now is about trying to be the best person I can. I try every single day to make up for all of the hurt I caused.
There’s a lot of controversy about addiction. What do you call it? Substance use disorder? Addiction? A disease? I can honestly tell you that to me that’s quibbling over semantics. The way I see it, addiction is like a tornado. Hitting one, skipping the next. Causing destruction along the way. The good news is, we do recover. Just remember, it’s easier when we recover together.