It doesn't matter if you were addicted to drugs, or alcohol. Getting sober was a huge milestone in your life. Being an addict is not easy. Worrying every day if you will be able to have enough money to get your next fix is extremely tiresome. Being sober is just as difficult. There is temptation all around you. Turn on TV and liquor companies are sponsoring sporting events. The news is filled with celebrity actors and actresses who are OD'ing on drugs and alcohol.
I talk to many addicts who are now clean, as well as addicts who have relapsed. People relapse for all different reasons. Many addicts who have maintained some time with sobriety think they have their addiction under control. They believe that since they haven't used in a while, they have cured themselves. To prove it, they reward themselves with just "one drink" or "one hit". As an addict, we all know that this is not realistic. You spent time, energy and most likely being sick with withdrawals in order to regain your sobriety. Tempting or testing yourself is one of the worst things a former addict can do.
Alcoholism runs in my family, and whether I was predestined to have an addictive personality or not, I enjoyed my alcohol. After a while though, the drinking became out of control. It was at this point I was introduced to painkillers. One of my friends gave me one, and as soon as I took that one pill, I had a new best friend. The pills were rather cheap, and gave me a great euphoric feeling. I was in control of my actions where as with alcohol, I would become "sloppy", but not with these pills. These pills were amazing.
Painkillers became my drug of choice. I felt wonderful, enjoyed everything, and they made my life perfect. (which was the furthest of the truth.) These pills just masked my emotions, and hid my troubles. Becoming addicted to opiates never even crossed my mind. Doctors prescribe them to people daily. In fact, painkillers are the most prescribed medication in the United States. How can they be bad for me?
My tolerance built up pretty quickly. One pill no longer did the trick. Soon it took 5 pills to give me the feeling I was looking for. Then shortly after that, it took 7 or 8 pills. Then I ran out of money. No big deal I thought, I'll just wait a couple of days until I get some more money and then will buy some more pills. Everything will be fine.
BOOM: Withdrawals hit me like a ton of bricks. They came on out of no where and I did not expect them to be so bad. The itching, stomach ache, headache, nausea. Then the vomiting, diarrhea, and horrible depression. I just figured it was the flu. I started doing some research and realized maybe I was addicted to the pills, but I wasn't sure. I was able to borrow some money from a friend, get some more pills and the withdrawals went away almost instantly. That was when I realized there might be a problem. Unfortunately my rationalization for my problem was that as long as I got more painkillers I wouldn't have to deal with the withdrawals. That was the furthest from the truth. My addiction spiraled out of control, which led me to make some horrible decisions in my life. Lying, stealing, and becoming a monster to my addiction. Luckily I was able to get help before it was too late.
That was many years ago, and I've been clean now for over 4 years. There are many times where I'm out and I see people drinking and socializing. There is a part of me that would love to have one drink and sit and BS with some buddies. But I know deep down that there is no such thing as one drink. I am still an addict, and I will always be an addict. It's about control, and living a sober life. Not giving into temptation and doing everything possible so that I do not relapse. I purposely hang around with people who know my situation and respect my sober lifestyle decision.
I have made a promise not only to my friends and family, but more importantly to myself to remain drug free. Respect yourself, and respect the hard work you put in to become sober. Do not give into temptation and reward yourself with one pill or one drink because as an addict, that will not work for you. It will just restart the cycle of addiction. Many addicts who fall off the wagon, jump right back into their addiction where they left off. Since they've been clean for a while their tolerance has lowered and what used to be their regular dose, has now become their breaking point which quickly leads to overdose.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was the perfect example of this. Hoffman who recently passed from a heroin overdose used to be an alcoholic. He was clean for 23 years. After a wrap up party for his new movie "The Master" he decided to celebrate by having 1 drink. That one drink opened up the floodgates in his life. The drinking became out of control, which led to experimenting with heroin, which ultimately took his life.
If you have worked hard to become sober, it's important to maintain that lifestyle choice of sobriety. Death can be lurking behind that one drink or one pill that spirals your life out of control.