People jeopardize their lives for the sake of making the moment livable. Nothing sways them from the habit—not illness, not the sacrifice of love and relationship, not the loss of all earthly goods, not the crushing of their dignity, not the fear of dying. The drive is that relentless.
– Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Welcome. Chances are if you have found yourself reading a blog about addiction, you may be currently struggling with addiction yourself. Perhaps you have a family member who is battling the disease, and have found yourself sifting through the endless online articles – desperately seeking answers. Perhaps a loved ones addiction has begun to negatively affect your life and you find yourself struggling to cope with the endless uncertainty of this roller coaster that you have involuntarily been forced onto.
Whatever your reasons, I am glad that you have found yourself here. Experiencing addiction – whether it be first hand, or vicariously through a loved one – is an isolating experience. And that is the reason why I decided to begin this blog. I hope that by to documenting and sharing my personal encounters with addiction – within my family and within myself – I can help shed some light on what is often a dark and stigmatized topic.
In 2015, life for my family changed forever. It was that year that opiate addiction got it’s hold on my younger sister, a gentle, empathetic, beautiful, university educated 22-year-old aspiring nursing student. Looking back, I was oblivious to the fact that addiction had begun to root itself in her. Worse yet, completely unbeknownst to me was the fact that my own addictive tendencies were festering beneath the surface, desperately coaxing me to employ them as a method to cope with what was going on around me. I guess hindsight is 20/20.
The last two years have been a whirlwind for my family. We all experienced the dark symptoms of addiction which afflicted my sister – the lies and manipulation, theft, legal repercussions, homelessness, incarceration – and were powerless to stop it. We all experienced the sleepless nights, waiting on edge for confirmation that her addiction had let her live another day. But this blog will not just be an outlet for sharing my experiences and perceptions of her active addiction. She is not her addiction.
No, this blog will also attempt to dive into the many realizations that I have been fortunate enough to have along this terrifying journey. Realizations about family dynamics and early childhood experiences that perhaps planted the seed for this affliction to enter our lives in the first place. The thoughts that occupy our minds that develop into behaviors, which provide a breeding ground for addiction and mental illness to flourish. The dynamics of interpersonal relationships and romantic relationships and how I have witnessed and experienced the ways in which they effect our relationship with ourselves and our propensity towards addictive behaviors.
I am not an expert. I am a Criminal Justice degree graduate, the sister and daughter of addicts, with addictive tendencies myself. I am the former girlfriend of an alcoholic. I am a volunteer at a local distress line where I have the opportunity to interact with individuals from all walks of life, facing all types of crisis. I am a Correctional Services Worker and as I wrote this entry a medical code was called, and my colleagues revived yet another inmate who nearly succumbed to an opiate overdose – which unfortunately has become an almost daily occurrence with the present opioid epidemic taking place.
Yes, addiction has touched my life in more ways than one. But I am grateful that recovery has as well. My sisters disease is in remission, the open wounds within my family are starting to heal. The scars from the past are still there, but we are starting to understand them better. I invite you to share in our journey with us. Addiction is complex, and often illicits strong emotional responses and opinions which I invite and encourage everyone to share. All I ask is that you approach our story, and the stories of other individuals who’s lives have been touched by the disease of addiction from a place of empathy and a willingness to learn.