I wrote this post for a facebook group named addictioNurse- a 100 member group on substance abuse.
It may serve as an intro here. It is not biographical and that seems right to me at the moment.
Perhaps I should introduce myself, because I am likely to share and comment some things that will show that I have an unusual substance abuse problem- but maybe everybody has an unusual problem.
Alcohol was never an important part of my life, I thought, until I started taking medication that was DANGEROUS to mix with alcohol.
I found it hard to stop drinking entirely, and that i enjoyed the fact that I got very drunk on very little alcohol. I began to crave alcohol, and would get up out of bed at 1:30 to go to the store and buy a quart before it was after hours.
If there is an open bottle of wine or liquer, I will sneak down in the middle of the night to have a few sips.
i did not have this craving before alcohol was forbidden, and the part of this drinking that alarms me is that it is basically self-harm, so it is on the spectrum of suicidal ideation and self-mutilation.
I have many friends who are recovering from substance abuse, and we compare notes on my struggles with my bipolar disorder.
The bit of wisdom that helps me the most is my friend David’s wisdom that when you stop abusing drugs the difficulty is to face the issues that led you to start abusing them in the first place.
I have been in support groups for depression and bipolar disorder, and there is freedom in being with people of all kinds who understand each other in a different way.
The same is true of recovery from substance abuse. People can spot each others’ excuses, rationalinizations, and continuing addictions. But they also tend to read themselves into other people. Not everybody is a good sponsor.
I cannot go to AA, because if I tell the truth about myself, that I am not physically addicted but it is still a struggle for me to not use alcohol, many will not understand and accuse me of being in denial. Some people will tell me to stop taking my medication because, after all, drugs are drugs and the goal is to live drug free.
(I am also critical of the 12 step programs on grounds of philosophy, style, and appropriateness for all people, but that is another day and another entry)
Equally disturbing are those who have decided that marijuana is not just valuable in medication, but is the only medication that is needed, and, because it is “natural’ and not manufactured chemically it is as safe as food and superior.
I take several different kinds of medications, and even useful prescription medications take correctly under medical supervision have unwanted side effects and can cause other problems.
(I will write another time about my specific experience with various medications, especially benzodiazapines.)
I think we need to educate people in a bold, honest way to prepare them for the dangers of substance use and abuse.