Do you know anyone with a serious addiction problem? Do you struggle to stop something that’s destroying you?
In my job as a addiction engagement worker, almost every day I talk to people trying to recover. It’s such a privilege hearing people’s experiences and an honour when someone decides to let me in to hear their unique story. I’m learning a lot, like that addiction can run very deep, be very strong, and it’s often not overcome quickly or easily.
Even when people have horrible consequences, they often continue the addictive behavior. Friends and family are shocked and amazed that shattered dreams, lost jobs, destroyed homes and badly hurt loved-ones often isn’t enough to stop the addictive decline. Unfortunately sometimes nothing short of death stops the harm of the addictive spiral. But others do turn their lives around, find a way to change the cycle of destruction and enter into what’s called ‘recovery’. What is it that separates those groups of people; those who continue in addiction and those who find a way out?
I don’t think it’s simple, and I don’t think it looks the same for everyone, but I like to describe the difference as a realisation. Like a lightbulb lighting up or a new door opening. I recently heard a story of a man who almost died from malnourishment while obsessively doing nothing but drinking alcohol. Is that the point when the light bulb switches on? Another told her story of how she lost her career and license from drink driving. Was that the moment when the internal door suddenly opened, giving her a path in a new direction and a very changed life? It’s different for each situation and each person. It seems like something happens inside the person, maybe at about the same time something important, often dramatic happens on the outside.
And what can we do, those who love and care for people lost in addiction? How can we get that light switched on quicker, or direct someone to that door? Unfortunately this seems equally mysterious. It’s like the saying, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink‘. Perhaps the most important (though very difficult) thing we can do for friends or family in addiction is to stay connected with them and keep supporting and and try to keep loving them. We can tend the good and healthy water and keep hoping they’ll chose to drink.
CGL are our Drug and Alcohol Service, give free professional support available in our county. Anyone can refer themselves and they are experienced and understanding about addiction–both staff and volunteers. Their job is to help, while showing that we don’t need to judge.
Same with the volunteer led free recovery groups like AA and NA and the Edge Cafe in Cambridge. People devote their time to this work because they care. These specialists are there waiting for you or your loved one; when, if, each person becomes ready.
A powerful part of mental health and recovery is the seemingly simple act of telling our story. Check in here for some real life stories of addiction and recovery, to understand more about what it is really like to be addicted and hear some stories of hope for recovery. At the bottom of this page you can vote on what you would like to hear our next Addiction Recovery Storyteller share. And get in touch if you want to share your addiction story.