I’m Madison, and I’m an addict

It’s been almost four years since I decided to get sober. Cocaine would have killed me if it weren’t for the people who cared about me. There are five million regular cocaine users in America right now, JUST America. Addiction is a disease that kills thousands and affects millions every year. Deaths by overdose have fucking tripled since 1990. This shit is real. We, as a society, need to broaden our viewpoints and spend more time understanding than judging.

Almost twenty-one million Americans have at least one addiction, and only 10% of these people seek help. I’ve seen the disgust people feel when they talk about addicts, but t’s not rare. Addiction affects millions of people. So, why? There’s no point. Instead, you can try being a support system for the person who needs you. In 2018, there were 14,666 cocaine-related deaths. Drugs change your brain in ways that cause problems when it comes to stopping. Addiction is a complicated disease, but it’s more common than you’d think. When you’re an addict, there is always a chance of relapsing. Relapsing doesn’t mean you failed. Treatment changes over time and molds to you as life goes on. It’s okay to take a step backward, as long as you pick yourself up and keep going forward.

Looking back, I’ve always been an addict. I see it all now. I’ve had many vices over the years, but cocaine was my biggest one. When I started bartending, the late nights were brutal. I was introduced to it quickly, but I had no idea what it would do to me. I went down this dark rabbit hole. Food was not something I needed, neither was sleep. I thought I hid it well, but Tristan knew. Everyone knew. After an intense psychotic episode, he gave me two choices. I could quit or move out. So, I quit. I was ninety-five pounds and hadn’t eaten anything in days. Nosebleeds were a regular thing. I know if I would’ve continued I would have died. The worst part is that I will be fighting my entire life to stay on the right track. But, I have always been a fighter. I have a support system that now that I have never had before. I’m an addict, but I’m also so much more than that.

Cocaine-related deaths grow every year. It damages the lungs, provokes mental disorders, and can cause respiratory problems. Dealing with an addict can get stressful, sometimes it can feel like there’s no hope. But, there is ALWAYS hope. Addiction is a physical disease (like diabetes), and you have to realize that it isn’t their fault. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. I have a few do’s and don’ts regarding how to deal with an addict. I know how hard it can be to talk to someone struggling, because I was that someone. Addicts manipulate not just you, but also themselves. Drugs rewire the brain and make it hard to stop.

Don’t:

  • You should never push shame or your criticism on an addict. When someone is in active addiction there is never a time for tough love.
  • Remember that there is no sole reason for this disease, so don’t ever push fault onto the addict!
  • Don’t expect progress immediately, and ultimatums aren’t always the best way to go.
  • It isn’t always easy for an addict to talk about their problem, so don’t think they will open up immediately. These things take time.
  • Never call an addict selfish.
  • NEVER lump your loved one into a box. Don’t assume that addiction only affects bad people. That’s simply not true.

Do’s:

  • Encourage your loved one to find out what helps them in their journey into sobriety.
  • DO YOUR RESEARCH. I feel like I say this a lot, lol. But it’s true. The more you know, the better you can help your loved one.
  • Help your loved set goals for their journey. Goals can help people strive for something more, which I think is crucial for getting sober.
  • It’s okay to celebrate the milestones, but there’s nothing too small or too big for your loved one. Your loved one struggles every day, so always keep that in mind.
  • Provide your loved one with support and love. Keep things positive. Encourage them along their journey. Providing your loved one a good support system is one of the best things you can do.

This shit is never simple, but it’s not impossible. If you or your loved one are struggling with this disease, know that you are not alone. Not all of us have good support systems, and for the ones who don’t, I’m sorry. My contact page is a way to reach me if you need someone in your corner. I’ve gone through the ashamed phase, but that’s done. There’s no shame in telling your story, and I hope more people do that over time. I’m proud of my progress, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten those times. Recovery is all about acceptance and forgiveness.

So here’s to my four years.

SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357

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