I relapsed, and I’m supposed to write an essay about my strategy for preventing further relapses. There is a problem with this, though, as any ideas that I have ever had about relapse prevention have never been sufficient. Writing is probably my only viable coping skill, however, so I will throw myself into the essay, and see if I can get at anything that will stop me from further damage.
I need to think about what I’m going to do to stop myself from the inevitable outcome of active addiction, which is premature death. I have a disease of the mind that is fatal. I need to stay in touch with the fact that if I use drugs, it’s going to kill me in a way that will be slow and painful, in fact more painful than I could previously even imagine.
I reject the concept of a rock bottom. To me, there is only one bottom, and that is death. In my experience, there is always another lower level to life as a drug addict. The things that anyone would consider a bottom have been eclipsed by further suffering without fail, over and over. I would love it to be as simple a narrative as “I found myself homeless, or in jail and I realized I had to change, and so I did. Now look at me, I’m good”. That may be the story for some, as it’s easily understandable and makes black and white logical sense to all of us. Who wouldn’t like things to make logical sense? I would love that. I would love to look at a problem with all kinds of nuanced complexities and know that there is a solution to it.
I have lost track of the number of rock bottoms in my life. Every time i really scare myself, i make a decision to change, and i make it 100% sincerely . I made that choice on august 15th, 2022. I was living on the street, addicted to anything that would get me out of my natural state of consciousness, which is a self loathing that is deeper than i can even express verbally, a rarity for me, as i’m pretty good with words. I spent every single waking moment obsessively focusing on how I could get the resources together to acquire the amount of chemicals I would need to end my life. I overdosed on street opiates twice in a week, only to be revived by emts with narcan. I reached the realization that i couldnt even successfully kill myself, so i would have to figure out a way to make life bearable. I checked myself into a psych hospital, again. I went from the psych hospital (again), to a chemical dependency rehab (again) , and then to the long term residential program where i am right now, typing this appraisal of why i relapsed on pharmaceutical grade amphetamines, and what i think i should do about it. I’ve not only lost track of bottoms, i’ve lost track of how many treatment centers, detoxes and psych wards i’ve been to. I’ve lost track of how many 12 step meetings i’ve been to. I’ve lost track of how many times i thought i had undergone the change requires required for recovery from addiction, only to find myself worse off than i had ever been.
I may not be passed out behind a dumpster right now, and hopefully i can avoid the return to that kind of life, but mentally and emotionally i am scraping a bottom that is as painful as any, addiction is so funny, it detaches you from the things that you went through that made you want to change. It’s a fire that you pull yourself out of, with torched skin literally dripping off of your bones. Once you get a little patched up, there you are back warming your hands by it, plotting the ways that you could do a better job of being engulfed in flames, without getting burns.
I am not unintelligent. I have intellectualized addiction for years. I suppose I understand why the professionals in this treatment center have asked me to write an essay about relapse prevention, and attend another 8 relapse prevention group therapy sessions. Given that I have spent most of the last decade either in treatment, or using, there is another thing that I have lost count of: relapse prevention group therapy sessions. I could teach the American rehab textbook. I can easily regurgitate back the things that all of these professionals in the field of addiction treatment learned in graduate school. It will sound great, and everybody will think I’m ok. I’ll start on Monday at 2:30.
After that, I could go to a church basement and recite the first 164 pages of the AA big book. After all, I did spend a good 5 years enmeshed in the 12 step recovery model. I prayed in the morning, and before I went to bed. I thought I was having the kind of spiritual experience the program describes as the only path out of the hell that is alcoholism and addiction. I went to at least five meetings a week, and I went through the 12 steps as fully and honestly as I possibly could. I told my story to people in hospitals and institutions… they were probably inspired. I presented my brother with his first year medallion in tears of joy in front of 200 hundred other recovering alcoholics and their family. It meant so much to me, until it didn’t mean anything, and I again found myself smoking crack on a sidewalk in the ghetto, hoping for death.
I’ve lost count of how many people that I know have died from addiction. I see people on facebook cope with it, and say all of the things that they always say. Someone I know dies from drug addiction on a weekly basis. The line is “I hope they found peace”. As someone with first hand experience with the torturous purgatory of addiction, in a way I envy anyone who gets out of it, even if it’s in a body bag, I really do hope they find peace.
The fact is, I have absolutely less than zero idea of how I’m going to prevent relapsing. If I were to explain the lengths I’ve gone to to try to figure that out, we’d be reading a 100 page memoir about how not to treat polychemical addiction.
My thoughts are irrelevant, i can’t live effectively, i cant die effectively and i have no fucking idea what to do. I need to be told. I can’t imagine doing drugs again, and I can’t imagine being sober. I am lost in every way someone can be.
What are my triggers? My main trigger is the fact that I absolutely can’t stand myself. It doesn’t matter how smart I am, it doesn’t matter how good I am at getting other people to like me. I cannot tolerate the default setting of how I feel without getting high, even though getting high stopped working at least 10 years ago. I have no solution.
I have no relapse prevention plan, I don’t know what to do. I want to get high so badly, and I’m hanging by a thread, literally one minute at a time.