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Finding Peace of Mind in Sobriety - Recovering Addicts Share Their Storiesfrom: Constance Ray - Guest Author
Sometimes the pain that life delivers seems too much to bear on our own, so we use substances to cope. But it's a slippery slope to addiction, and while drugs and alcohol may offer temporary relief, they ultimately only exacerbate existing problems and create more.
Fortunately, there's hope. The addiction survivors we met told us that it was when they entered treatment and attained lasting sobriety that they found true happiness and peace of mind. Here's what they had to say.
Pain from the past doesn't have to be forever
Lewis had struggled with substance abuse since childhood, in part due to a sexual assault that occurred when he was only five. His addiction amplified as he became an adult, and though he'd tried to move forward, his past came roaring back.
"I started having dreams and flashbacks of the sexual assault I experienced when I was a child," he said. "I could still see it all in my head, even now I can still picture it."
His drinking escalated even further, much to the dismay of his wife and kids.
"I was trying to destroy every relationship in my life. I knew I was about to hit rock bottom. I knew I was about to watch a train wreck and that the end was coming soon," he recalled.
When he made the decision to enter treatment at Texas's Treehouse Rehabilitation, Lewis was finally able to confront his past rather than only numb the pain.
"I had been kicking myself about not doing something to stop the assault, but I realized I could only do what I knew and could do at that age," he explained. "I was angry at the wrong people, it wasn't my wife's fault and it wasn't my kids' fault."
Now that he's sober, he's realized that his past doesn't make him weak, it makes him a warrior.
"I learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought I could be. I'm stronger spiritually and mentally than I thought possible" Lewis said.
Making a change can save your life and your happiness
Kelli faced more adversity at a young age than any child ever should, including a borderline personality disorder diagnosis and suicidal thoughts. She said the pain she felt was overwhelming, and it wasn't until she tried an opioid that it ever seemed to stop.
"It was the first time I felt like I could smile," she recalled of her first pill. "It was the first time I didn't hurt. It was the first time I felt like there wasn't a gaping hole inside of me anymore. It was the first time I really felt normal."
She spiraled into a decade of substance abuse until she finally discovered the right program to get - and stay - sober. Kelli was able to get both conditions under control, and perhaps most importantly, she regained her self worth.
"I discovered that I'm actually a good person. I'm a good person with a problem. I don't have a moral deficiency - I have an illness. I learned that I was worth it. I am worthy of life and I'm worthy of love," she said.
She added that she learned another important lesson in addiction treatment:
"The pain that causes addiction is a part of life, but it's not the foundation of life."
Many of us will never know the misery and devastation addiction brings. However, we all know what it's like to go through hard times and how difficult it can be to ask for help. Kelli offered some valuable insight on what keeps her sober that's good advice for anyone struggling with a mental health issue.
"I can do this today because I don't ever want to hurt and feel the agony like I did before," she said. "I know at this point, I don't have to feel the way I did before. It's my choice."