My Motivations to Stop My Drug Abuse
In 2009, I sat in a small room in a small town. Alone. No job, no girlfriend, no friends or companions. I was completely alone with my drug abuse. I had isolated myself thoroughly, and had nothing left to lose. I couldn't descend any further. Maybe I could, but at that point, I had hit rock bottom. I looked at myself in the mirror and gave myself two choices: 1, do I want to live? 2, do I want to die?
I went to the town hall to ask for help. I didn't even know what type of help I was seeking. I just knew that I couldn't manage the process myself. I had nothing to left lose. I was referred to the community’s treatment center, and was at once put into medicinal treatment, also called withdrawal treatment on methadone.
The treatment started in December of 2009, and I finished in July of 2010, and since then, I have been drug-free.
What motivated me to stop my drug abuse and seek treatment?
Optimism in my DNA
When I think back on my life, I have always had a fundamentally optimistic approach to things. Things will work out. I have experienced a lot of good and bad things; I have been depressed, had low self-esteem, and felt that I wasn't capable many times. Yet, I knew I would survive and likely come out on top.
My curiosity and essential optimism for life has always shone through. When I was young and watched my mother being beaten by angry men, I would look to my grandfather to find comfort and security. I have learned to navigate a life of chaos from an early age.
During my mother’s drinking spells, I would spend a lot of time on the soccer field and sleep over at friends’ houses so that I could avoid the bad times. During my life of drug addiction, I have tried to stop the abuse several times; after five years of addiction, it dawned on me that I had a problem. Slowly I began to understand that I needed to be free from the addiction, if not then, at some point.
My optimism and ability to find solutions has always played a role in my life. In 2009, when I finally decided to start treatment, it was my own choice, my own decision. It was based on many things, but one of the factors was my optimistic approach on life; life had to be more than pills and drugs.
The time had come; I was tired
Growing up with an alcoholic mother I had seen it all. I knew what drug abuse and addition looked like from the relative’s perspective. My own abuse lasted for more than 13 years. I was tired. I was fed up with the power that the drugs had over my life, as a child and as an adult.
I was sick of the game - trying to make or get money and plan where the next dose of drugs would come from. I was tired of constantly being low. Tired of lying and deceiving. Tired of hating myself. I was fed up with feeling guilty about who I had become. Fed up with having to hide everything. Tired of hurting all of the people around me. Tired of disappointing other people. Tired of seeing family and friends turn their backs on me, and tired of me turning my back on them. Tired.
I was just so outrageously tired, exhausted and burned out after 33 years of stimulants and drugs controlling my life. It’s important to know though that I was not tired when I at 25 years old. I didn't listen to the people who told me I had a problem then because I had energy, zest for life, and the drugs gave me a positive boost.
Eight years later though I was tired, I could barely function at all. The years had simply battered me like a boxer in the ring; so it came down to choosing life or death. I wished for a better life, to no longer feel the fatigue, and move towards a better quality of life with honesty, friends, family, and an education. I was ready for change. I wished for change. All of this motivated me to seek treatment in 2009.
My family’s love and honesty
Sometimes my family knew that I was taking drugs, pills, etc. On other occasions they thought I was "clean” when really I wasn’t. At times I have lived close to them or even with them, other times I have lived 300 km (186 miles) away in isolation. Irrespective of how daily life looked, or whether I was 18 or 30 years old, my family has always been honest with me. Sometimes they were involved in my life, and other times they weren't, yet I never doubted their love and support for me.
When I broke an agreement, committed a crime, stole from them, didn't show them respect, or instigated some other stupid behavior, they stepped away from my life and me. They asked me to be honest, and they told me that they always loved me and would like to help if I wanted.
However, they would not accept certain behavior. Sometimes I behaved incredibly stupid, resulting in them pushing me away, and then me pushing them away.
Yes, it caused me to increase my abuse at times, and it also made me aware that they loved me, and that my behavior was not okay. My extreme behavior started when I was very young, as a consequence of my mother’s alcoholism. That lasted for more than 20 years. My family and friends always condemned the times I behaved like an idiot, or, on the contrary, accepted me when I was well behaved.
It was not that I didn't know how to behave. I knew that I would hurt my sister when I told her that I was coming for Christmas, and then didn't show up. I just preferred to be alone so that I could take my drugs uninterrupted. She wrote an honest and frank letter to me where she described how my behavior was affecting her.
There are many examples of this. My point is that I have always known that my family loved me.
I have always known that I could go to them and ask them for help. I respected their boundaries. In 2009 when I decided to seek treatment, a large part of my motivation came from the fact that I wished to be part of the family, and that they would "have me," if, and only if, I changed my behavior.
The people around me
I don't know why, but I have always been attracted to positive accomplished people. I never spent time or created relationships with other addicts. My attraction to “normal”, successful people showed in my desire to play soccer in school and my commitment to my education, where I rarely skipped class.
I loved going to school where my curiosity was ignited. We could play soccer and other games, learn, find girlfriends, friends, etc. When I was on welfare I sought the company of my friends from the soccer club. I was taking drugs with people who were employed. I didn't seek the company of drug dealers or hang around with people who were unemployed.
Successful people have always inspired me. My father and my grandfather, and many of my friends and their parents, have inspired me. When I was working, I was always meticulous to seek out high-achievers in order to learn from them.
Simultaneously, as an addict, I had low self-esteem; I hated myself, but I was grateful that successful people surrounded me, either by working with them, or just by being close to them. These people and relationships also showed me what a healthy life and boundaries looked like. They showed me how to live a life full of values, honesty, compassion, integrity, diligence and determination. They have influenced me significantly.
I had relationships with many well functioning people, like my family, who could reflect on my behavior and tell me if and when I was behaving like an idiot. I don’t know where my positive instinct came from, but as a child I used to play more with children from “normal” families, than with children from families like my own.
I have always wished to make a difference and be successful. Unfortunately, I never learned how to do this from the adults around me when I was a little boy. Rather, I had to teach myself along the way. Mixing with successful people and their families and my friends and colleagues inspired me to seek success. I have never needed or wanted to be a Vice President or CEO. What’s important to me is that I am happy in my job. If that’s sweeping a street, so be it.
In 2009, I was so fed up with myself. I saw all of these successful people and knew that I had the desire and motivation to be successful myself. I wanted something better. I knew life could be more than drugs and the next 24 hours.
Wishing for something new
When I entered treatment, I didn't know what I wanted. Some people talk about what they want to achieve once they are out of their addiction pattern and abuse. I asked myself, “Why do you want to become clean? Where do you see yourself in three years?” But I didn’t have the answers. I had no long-term goals or aspirations. None.
The only thing I knew was that I didn't want my life to continue as it was. I had a burning desire for something new. What that should be, I didn’t know and it didn't interest me. When I first went to the local treatment center for help, I had a deep desire to stop the path my life was taking and start a new one. Start a new life. Initially, that was enough for me.
I remember entering the treatment center and meeting my therapist. We spoke for two hours, and then, together, we planned my treatment schedule. I was given medication (methadone) to take at home, and the next day I returned to the treatment center to receive that day’s medication. That’s how it proceeded for the next month. Finally another person was embracing my addiction and me. My therapist recognized that I had a problem and knew how to help me. That was enough for me. The desire for a better life inspired me to get up and go to the treatment center that first day. And the experienced and understanding employee inspired me to continue showing up.
Where does my wholehearted wish for a new life stem from? That’s a good question. Why can some people loose 50 lbs. and others cannot? I think it's about my DNA and genetic make-up that I have inherited from my parents. I can recognize both the good and the bad traits that I have inherited.
My ability to find solutions and my curious nature only increased my desire for success. I can clearly identify those same characteristics in my parents. My school, friends, local environment, and other people I have met along the way were all luck. There were a million factors at play that affected why, in the autumn of 2009, I had had enough and sought treatment on my own accord.
I wanted to be free of the fatigue, dependency, self-hatred, sorrow, sadness and failure. I wanted to be happy, positive, and was ready for a new life. The help from the treatment center, therapists, my family and friends, and my own motivation all contributed to my perseverance.
When I was undergoing the Minnesota Treatment program in 2007, I was not ready. I underwent the treatment but continued my drug abuse when I returned home. So why did treatment work in 2009? I was even more exhausted and fed up with my addiction. I was even more alone and unhappy with my life.
If an addiction stairway existed, then I was down on the bottom step in the basement filled with evil. And in 2009 it was just too much. The people around me who also used drugs were dying. I knew I had to choose between life and death. My motivation for my rehabilitation in 2009 was that I wanted a good life, a better life. I wished for something new.
The right choice
In the autumn of 2009, my mother, grandfather, uncle and a good friend all passed away. Needless to say, it was a hard time in my life. My decision to get clean came like lightening from the heavens. Bang! I knew that this time it would be for real and that my decision was right.
I didn't worry about whether I would make it through the treatment, or what would happen in a week or two, or even three years. The only thing on my mind was to continue going to my meetings at the treatment center. That became my first priority. Once the treatment started nothing was more important than my meetings.
The decision came to me when I was standing in the bathroom one morning. I had a glass of water in my hand and was about to take three pills to get the day going. I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Hell no! The party is going to fucking stop right now!” I immediately left the bathroom and found the opening times for the town hall. I waited until it was 10 am, so that I could go there and ask for help. When it was 9.45 am, I showered and put on my clothes and went to the town hall.
I went to the town hall’s information office and told them my name and that I'm ready to speak to a therapist or whatever they are called. A kind woman referred me to the drug treatment center. I went directly there and made an appointment for the following day. I still remember the relief and happiness I felt. Finally I had done something "right" and good for myself. I went home and took pills and drugs as I used to, and the day after I went to the treatment center. We created a treatment plan, which I followed for eight months, and eventually I became clean and drug -free. This is the short version, of course. When I started the treatment, I took only the medication they gave me. I threw away all of my own drugs, pills, etc., and never touched it again.
Where did that decision come from? I think it was probably due to a combination of the events described earlier. When the decision hit me that morning in the bathroom, it felt so right. I had no doubt it was the right choice. Like when you kiss the person you love, you have no doubt that it's completely right. Or when you score a goal in a soccer game, you have no doubt that the moment is completely right. Or when a child smiles widely, you know that it's a real and true feeling.
An intuitive gut feeling, which confirms that what you are doing is right. That’s how I felt when I decided to proceed with treatment in 2009, and that was an important factor that caused me to go to the town hall that November day.
Age and wisdom
When I turned 30, and was still an addict, I saw my friends and family getting older, having children, and creating families of their own. They were adults, and I was alone, isolated, and taking drugs and pills. My thoughts were telling me that what I was doing was not right or natural. We are not put on earth to be sick and consume drugs.
I thought that if all I was going to do was take drugs and be an addict then I didn’t deserve to live. That day in 2009, when I chose treatment my motivation came from the desire to be a “normal” human being. I wanted to do good. I wanted to achieve something. I wanted to be able to look back at my life and see where I made a difference for others; a positive difference that others could feel.
Why did I fail at treatment on other occasions?
I have tried to break my addiction and drug abuse four times. Twice my doctors recommended that I throw away my pills and go cold turkey. It didn't help. I couldn't overcome the drugs alone nor while at home. After five weeks of the Minnesota Treatment where I became clean, I left and returned home only to continue my drug abuse and addictions.
So why did my decision and motivation work the last time? I think that it took me four tries before I was actually ready. It took me 33 years before I was ready for a new life and to quit my addictions and drug abuse. If I'm to use the stairway analogy, then it was first in 2009 that I had reached the last step on the way down. I finally realized that there were no more steps left. I could take the next step down and die, or I could turn around and start climbing back up the stairway.
My first attempt at treatment happened when I wasn't far enough down the stairway; I went up two steps, and then down another ten. I am very aware that even though I have come up the stairs and into the light, there is still a risk that I might turn around and walk back down towards the darkness. Ultimately, I had the choice between life and death. I couldn't go any further down the stairway.
My own state of mind
Many factors contributed to my decision to start treatment. The last thing that I'll mention was my own condition and state of mind. I was finally ready to recognize that I was ready for a new path in life. My life contained no happiness, no fun, nothing except pain, self-hatred and shame.
Finally, I knew I couldn't do anything else but accept that I needed help. I needed help or I would die. I had to say this out loud and to somebody else. Nothing was more important than this decision, and since then, nothing has been more important to me than my commitment to live a free and honest life. I knew that I could not manage on my own, and so I sought help. My state of mind and approach to treatment this time around was that I was ready to surrender to the treatment process. I wasn't able, nor could I, fight it anymore. I had to respect the fact that I was ill, and needed help. That was my state of mind: a state of recognition, insight and honesty towards myself. I couldn't do it alone. I needed help from others. In that way, my own state of mind was a motivating factor in seeking help.
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