Drugs are not the root of all our problems and people often think that drug rehabs and treatment centres are anti-drugs. This is not strictly true and any rehab centre telling you that drugs are the problem should be avoided at all costs because they have no idea what they’re talking about. The truth is that most people (approx. 90-95%) will use drugs with little or no consequence other than a good time.

Drugs can mean a better quality of life

Drugs are not entirely evil and can often be a pathway to emotional and spiritual breakthroughs having a significantly positive impact on people’s lives. If you are one of these people then there is absolutely no positive outcome to be had from attending drug rehab. Moreover, the right course of the right drug can be simply radical for those who suffer from psychiatric illness and unlocking a quality of life people have lost or never known. Drug rehabs are certainly not going to deny anyone a quality of life or a better quality of being, because this is the very thing they are providing to their clientele. However, there is a small percentage of people, myself included, that use drugs for the wrong reasons.

Drugs are the solution to the addict’s problems

An addict will initially use drugs to solve their existing problems and the prevailing problem, is them. Addicts will often describe the “isms” of their behaviour and the feelings which negatively affected them long before they started using drugs. Likewise, when they started using drugs, most, if not all of these problems, seem to pale into insignificance. Hence, drugs were never my problem; they were my solution. I know the first 5 years of my drug use were brilliant because it appeared that my life got bigger and more exciting, and consequently it seemed that I became who I wanted to be. My weekends were filled with bright lights, new friends and a heady, rushing euphoria that made my life worth living. This period is one I would never wish away or regret and certainly any thoughts that I might need to go to drug rehab were light years away from my mind.

Drug addiction is a progressive condition

However, the progressive nature of addiction means that things didn’t stay in the golden honeymoon phase. The one or two pills that it took to achieve the high I was seeking, became ten or twenty. The bag of cocaine that once lasted me all night was now being consumed in half an hour and I would be back on the phone to the dealer sometimes before I even made it home. The giddy 22 year old bouncing around on the dance floor was now a 30 something with all the responsibility that came with adulthood and was struggling hard to keep his head above water.

The volatile nature of drug addiction

My drug addled behaviour was less than reliable. I could become aggressive, tearful, overly affectionate, paranoid or delusional all in one night in quick, unpredictable succession. As my ex-girlfriend once said: “It was scary, like having 100kg baby wandering around the house, moving furniture at 3am in the morning, because the voices in his head told him people were coming over for a party.”

The cost of my drug addiction

My drug use and the resulting euphoric highs and plummeting lows were now costing me A LOT more money. Gradually, my dignity and my sanity started to ebb away and the once large friendship group I had prided myself on, dissipated to one or two fellow users who in truth were broken down 30 somethings like myself who were more than happy to sit around in my lounge room smoking crack with the curtains shut.

I still blamed the drugs

The once exciting, light-filled weekends become dark, dingy lounge room sessions where we would have the same conversations over and over again, often with themes that helped to justify each other’s sub-optimal existence. However, I still did not understand that the drugs weren’t my problem and even at this stage did not consider that a stint in drug rehab would be the answer. As I sat there in my early 30’s, blaming my hedonistic drug fuelled lifestyle for all my underachievement I had absolutely no awareness that I was still using for the same reasons that once my bright eyed self-did. AND actually those reasons had got worse because I had taken no responsibility for them and done nothing constructive about them.

What was the cause of my drug use?

Over ten years of drug use had done nothing to address my pre-drug use feelings of disconnection, anxiety, depression, inadequacy, irritability, emotional unmanageability, abandonment and everything else I was unaware of. I lived, and my family lived in the ignorant state of belief that if I just gave up drugs my life would get better. I would often fantasise about not using, getting a nice girlfriend, holding down a prestigious job and living happily ever after. If only I could stop using this is the life I would have.

It was not until entering drug treatment and being surrounded by very skilled addiction experts and therapists, I came to realise that substances had actually masked all of my problems and if I did not address these issues, my life may be drug free but it would certainly be miserable. I learnt that rehabilitation is not about drugs at all. It was about me. The tools and life skills I learnt were about addressing what had been broken for a very long time, furthermore, it wasn’t the drugs that broke it at all, which is what I had thought. Now, with my new found knowledge and awareness I could see that I had been using drugs because I was broken. Now it would be amazing if all these personal issues could be resolved in 5 minutes, or even in a 28-day-residential program. But the reality is, for myself and most other addicts recovery is a continual journey of healing that never stops.

Drug-free and happy, it’s a reality!

Some of my issues have all but disappeared and some require on-going management. Today, through engaging in the process of addiction recovery and support I have found a way to be drug-free and happy. Now if you’re a drug addict like me, and approximately 5% of people that use drugs are, then drug-free and happy, is not an automatic outcome of stopping taking substances. Drug free and happy requires support, expertise and a little bit of time.

Very few addicts will be able to achieve drug free and happy without the acute intervention of rehab treatment. I tried to prove for a long time that I could achieve drug free and happy by myself, only to find myself relapsing into greater ever depths of despair and degradation – time and time again. It was not until I was in so much pain with my family no longer choosing to enable me that change became an option.

Families are one of the keys to drug rehab

My family were key because they made the decision to make my life harder by not supporting me in any other way other than getting into drug treatment this meant that I became willing to explore the rehab process. I did not come to drug treatment with a positive outlook or any enthusiasm for the process. In fact I arrived telling everyone around me that they could ‘get F*****’ and I was only here because they made me. It was the following experience of drug treatment that enabled me to identify my REAL problem. Me. I discovered rehab was actually about how I needed to change and that didn’t mean just the drugs, my environment or the people around me.

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