Life as a recovering addict

James Jill was 24 years old and a college dropout when he sought treatment for heroin. Basically, I’m alone and a lot of my feelings are negative and my coping strategy is gone so I have no way to deal, he said.

The upcoming Unite to Face Addiction rally on Oct. 4 in Washington D.C., is focused on raising awareness of the addiction crisis. DC is one of most addicted cities in 2017.

Recovery is not just about abstaining from substances or behaviors, but dealing with emerging feelings, Jill said.

James Jill, a recovering addict for 18 years and vice president of substance use in Chicago. Some people relapse. Addiction is a disease that requires daily management, he said. Every 24-hour period an addict has drug free  and alcohol-free or behavior free is a gift.

Here are the stories of people in the Chicago area who have confronted their addiction.

Alcohol addiction: Henry, 24, Melrose Park

How did your addiction start?

I’d have to say I began showing signs of addictive behavior and depression at a very young age, somewhere around four or five. I started drinking when I was thirteen.

When did you notice it was a problem and what led you to that realization?

It wasn’t until around my 24th birthday. I had completely alienated myself because alcohol

stopped being enough to cover up my depression. I knew it wasn’t normal and that I needed help.

How did you seek help?

I met another alcoholic at school. She offered to take me to a meeting and I accepted. I heard my story in every single person. I just burst into tears and it was such a terrifying realization. I have joined the rehab center without any insurance.

How many times did you try to get help?

I didn’t take Alcoholics Anonymous very seriously at first. I’d put a few days or a month

together. I only seriously started seeking help from AA last November. I really didn’t want to be an alcoholic.

What helps prevent you from relapsing?

What’s helping right now, desperation to stay sober and other alcoholics? I have met some of the most amazing people in AA. I know they would do anything for me. They taught me different ways to stay sober.

What has helped you most in your recovery?

Talking to people, I’ve always had really low self-esteem and just assumed everyone would hate me, which people did for a long time because I was so depressed. But the more I spoke up at meetings, the more people would come up to me and tell me something similar that had happened to them or say something really encouraging, so I began feeling more comfortable.

Heroin addiction: Sean Barnett, 26, Palatine

How did your addiction start?

I discovered weed and alcohol when I was 17. I liked the feeling of what I had tried and began using it more often. I actually found out it was heroin about a month after continuously using it. That began my addiction to heroin.

How long has your addiction negatively impacted your life?

I tried heroin first when I was 18. Although it took me to dark places and caused me to do things I would never normally approve of or even consider.

When did you notice it was a problem and what led you to that realization?

I went to rehab for cocaine use at age 15. I felt cravings for drugs. Those around me seemed to use but they seemed to be able to stop when needed, and I could not.

How did you seek help?

I mostly went to well-respected rehab. When [I got] older, I did not have that support because of my actions, so I went to the Salvation Army Recovery Center off of Clybourn in Chicago. This saved my life.

How many times did you try to get help?

I have tried probably two dozen times. Sometimes I tried going to rehab and other times I tried on my own.

What helps prevent you from relapsing?

I used 12-step groups, support from my friends and family. I use medication also. I get a monthly injection of Vivitrol as extra defense.

What has helped you most in your recovery?

I think helping other people (not just addicts) is what helps me most. During my use, I was

selfish and didn’t care about others. I try to be the exact opposite and help people any opportunity I get.

Gambling addiction: Sebastian W., 30, Morton

How did your addiction start?

I understood the concept of money. It was [at] about age 11-12 when I saw the value of sports trading cards. Buying packs were the earliest form of gambling.

How long has your addiction negatively impacted your life?

19-20 years, as soon as I understood the possible gain, I ignored the risk associated.

When did you notice it was a problem and what led you to that realization?

When I would gamble on pool after school with friends and be willing to go double-or-nothing

without risk of the consequences.

How did you seek help?

Eventually, I broke down, was suicidal over the losses and was forced to go to Gamblers

Anonymous.

How many times did you try to get help?

I continued to gamble for the first three years in GA, absent small stints of non-gambling

because I lacked the money. There was no commitment to any plan/program of recovery.

What helps prevent you from relapsing?

The live-in- the-moment perspective is crucial to not allowing thoughts of future problems cloud current judgment.

What has helped you most in your recovery?

My parents. I am lucky to have come from an upper-middle- class family. They had patience and perspective on a subject, they know nothing about personally.

Post Author: Angela

I am "Angela Christensen", a Professional Writer and Blogger and love to share my knowledge and experiences with everyone by publishing informative articles. Love to hear your views and suggestions in comment box.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of