This is part three of a series of writings on addiction. You can find the listing of those articles near the bottom of this page: My Writings.
Today we will continue our discussion of addictions by examining drug addiction. The different drugs a person can choose to abuse range from street drugs like cocaine or heroin to prescription drugs like valium, xanax, ativan, klonopin, oxycodone, methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone and more.
I believe in the disease concept and the ideal of total abstinence from all drugs. I also believe in Narcotics Anonymous’ powerful concept of “one addict helping another.”
Some people think that your ‘drug of choice’ divides people into different categories. This is related to the effects of each individual drug. Unlike alcoholism, where the consequences of drinking lots of beer are the same as drinking lots of vodka, the social aspects of your ‘drug of choice’ will vary from criminal behavior to spending your life in dispensing clinics and doctor’s offices.
If we just look at your addiction, however, all addiction is the same. There are common themes. These are the disease model, heredity, allergy, tolerance, progression, social consequences, denial, and twelve step programs. We discussed these in the introductory article for this series. I’ll just briefly review them now.
The disease model says that if you are addicted to drugs of any sort, you have an allergy to all drugs [including alcohol] that manifests itself in an abnormal reaction to any drug. This is a very important concept. Addicts and alcoholics have cross-tolerance. Cross-tolerance means that if you are easily addicted to one class of drugs, you are high risk for addiction to any other class of drugs or addictive behavior. This means that recovery involves total abstinence from all drugs including alcohol. This is also the danger of drug replacement therapy.
In the beginning, your reaction will be abnormally pleasurable; but that experience is short-lived. You will rapidly build up a tolerance and need more of your drug of choice to achieve the same high. As you seek your fantasy high, you will progress into worse and worse social consequences. Narcotics Anonymous literature says the end result is “jails, institutions or death”.
Unfortunately, you will lie to yourself and deny this, maintaining a fantasy that all is well with you. You will maintain this illusion even as you flirt will very dangerous and illegal behaviors. Eventually, you will hit a bottom of utter degradation and despair. If you are lucky, this is when you call for help.
My hope in writing these articles is to increase your awareness in such a way as to raise that bottom place for you. Maybe you will call for help in your life sooner.
If you have any doubt about your involvement with drugs of any kind, take the following test published by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. [copyright ã 1983, 1988]
___Do you ever use alone?
___Have you ever substituted one drug for another, thinking that one particular drug was the problem?
___Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor to obtain prescription drugs?
___Have you ever stolen drugs or stolen to obtain drugs?
___Do you regularly use a drug when you wake up or when you go to bed?
___Have you ever taken one drug to overcome the effects of another?
___Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using drugs?
___Have you ever used a drug without knowing what it was or what it would do to you?
___Has your job or school performance ever suffered from the effects of your drug use?
___Have you ever been arrested as a result of using drugs?
___Have you ever lied about what or how much you use?
___Do you put the purchase of drugs ahead of your financial responsibilities?
___Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?
___Have you ever been in a jail, hospital, or drug rehabilitation center because of your using?
___Does using interfere with your sleeping or eating?
___Does the thought of running out of drugs terrify you?
___Do you feel it is impossible for you to live without drugs?
___Do you ever question your own sanity?
___Is your drug use making life at home unhappy?
___Have you ever thought you couldn’t fit in or have a good time without drugs?
___Have you ever felt defensive, guilty, or ashamed about your using?
___Do you think a lot about drugs?
___Have you had irrational or indefinable fears?
___Has using affected your sexual relationships?
___Have you ever taken drugs you didn’t prefer?
___Have you ever used drugs because of emotional pain or stress?
___Have you ever overdosed on any drugs?
___Do you continue to use despite negative consequences?
___Do you think you might have a drug problem?
According to NA, the actual number of questions you answer is not as important as how you feel as you answer them. If these questions make you angry or uncomfortable about your use of any drugs, you might want to visit some meetings of Narcotics Anonymous.
You can find online, telephone and local meetings by going to na.org.
This has been a writing about recovery from drug addiction.
Life coaching for drug addicts begins after that recovery. It’s for people who live a 12-step way of life and feel an inner nudge to reach for more in their lives.
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