Saturday, August 31, 2013

Friday for an Addict

So today has definitely been "one of them days." I guess for the past few days I already haven't been feeling that great. I can't really put my finger on why I have been feeling all down... which makes it even more annoying. Anyone else get annoyed at that?

Anyways, I went to a place that my friends are always at, and usually when I go there my day gets better. Of course this was just one of those days where it feels like life just has you in its crosshairs. My friends were out of town and the place was filled with the drunk and high lot that I use to be a part of.

I started wondering if I had sobered up at too early of an age. Was I missing out on things of my youth? The times that are supposed to make up for the best years of my life? These were some of the thoughts that were screaming at me in my head. 

Whatever age a recovering addict is, there are always moments where we just get to that point of really questioning if sobriety is worth it. If the sober life was really that much better than being addicted. 

It takes a quick few minutes to step outside of yourself and look at the situation to realize even questioning this is crazy. When I really thought about what life was like back then, I remembered the dangerous situations I got myself in, the constant stress about having enough of my stuff so I don't get sick, the friends I lost, and the insane amounts of money I spent. This is just some of the stuff that could be put on the "cons" list, but I could add to that list all night.

Addiction does weird things to you, even after you have been clean for some time. It has a way of sometimes making you only think about the good times. In reality, when you really think about it, the bad times happened much more frequently. The drugs just have a way of pushing them out of sight. 

I realized that now that I did get sober, it IS actually possible for me to make it the best times of my life. When I look back at the times of my addiction I don't see them as some great times that were had. And that would be the same in the future if I decided to go back to the drugs now. It would just be a waste of time, that is if I were to make it out alive. 

So I drove home with a smile on my face. Why?

I don't need to worry about getting dope-sick, I don't need to worry about having enough money for drugs, and the money I do have can be spent on me. I don't need to meet up with shady and dangerous people, I can actually remember the good times I have, and so much more. Yeah I might have to turn down a few parties, but that won't be what I remember from my 20's when I look back at them. 

I will remember getting clean, facing all the struggles I was avoiding with drugs and overcoming them. I will remember not giving up. I will remember so much more then just getting messed up like I did in the past. But most of all, I will remember rebuilding my life into something that is positive. 

So when it feels like life has you in its crosshairs, just remember to keep moving forward. Going back to drugs would only make you an easier target. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Addiction: Disguised Evil?

So I was looking through some of the pictures I had taken the past year when I had come across this one. My mind does weird things late at night, so when I stared at this picture I almost immediately compared it to addiction.

I know it's a weird comparison but stick with me guys. I'll try to explain it the best I can haha

Everyone that has been through addiction, or even going through it right now, can all remember what the drugs/alcohol felt like in the beginning. For me personally, it was one of those, "Where has this been my whole life" kind of moments. Any one else?

The cabin in this picture looked so beautiful to me when I first got there. Everything there was so peaceful at first. To be able to just "escape" from everyday life was so nice and relaxing. At first it was amazing, but after a few good times, a pretty heavy storm was rolling in. We were pretty much stuck in the cabin for a good few days. Not able to drive anywhere, no internet connection, along with cell service, and electricity wasn't all that great either. To sum it up, it basically felt like I was alone and stranded.
Alright, back to how it relates.

Isn't this how addiction kind of starts? We think life seems so much better at first when we get that first taste. At first, when we are falling deeper and deeper in love with our own version of the devil, we don't realize how evil it really is. It is the "honeymoon stage" of addiction I guess you could call it. You just notice everything that is good about the drug, nothing else.

Just like in the cabin, as days...weeks...or years go by, you find yourself completely alone. Maybe not physically for everyone, but I think it would be safe to say that at some stage after we are in a full committed relationship with our drug(s), we all feel so stranded in the terrible world of addiction. Nowhere to go, no one to turn to, just completely alone.

My reasoning getting a little more clear now? Or am I still just babbling?

In the end, we come to realize that the way we were living life before was a much easier situation than this romanticized world of drugs. That although it may seem like something we want at first, it really is just a form of evil disguised as that infamous "easy button" we all crave sometimes. We realize that "escaping" from life really isn't actually what we thought it was.

I hope this somewhat made sense. But more so, I hope everyone out there is having a good night/day.

Till next time.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

There really is beauty still out there

Can you see it

The Calm after the Storm

Just a quick post for right now. Just wanted to share this picture. It was taken by a good friend on my first sober weekend. I was so overwhelmed just standing there, taking everything in. 

I had walked around Laguna Beach almost everyday for the past seven years of my addiction, but it was only after I had gotten clean that I was able to...feel the beauty. I finally smelled the ocean again. I had almost forgotten what it smelled liked, that salty but refreshing crisp air. 

I still remember that day so clearly. It was at that very spot that I promised myself to not let myself get to overtaken by the complexities of life. To take time everyday and just take everything in. If we don't stop everyday and look for the good, all we are going to be able to see is the bad. 

And I don't know about you, but I could definitely use some more good in my life.

We all could.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Who Am I?

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves."
- Henry David Thoreau
Yeah... I could say I agree with that. When we are busy doing...whatever really, life seems to pass by so fast. Whether it be working, playing,or blogging. When things are mostly going right, we never really look to deeply into ourselves. We simply hold on to that good feeling as long as we can. So then what happens when the good goes away and is replaced with horrible?

When those moments come along where we feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is nowhere to be found, it is then that we learn so much about ourselves. I know for me personally, I learned more about myself in a few months than I had my whole life. 

It is in the moments where we feel we are drowning that we learn what we want in life. It is in those moments where we learn to appreciate those people close to us, and most importantly, we learn to appreciate the little things in life that make us happy. 

Although it might be hard, the next time you feel you are at the bottom of the pool gasping for air, think of that quote. When the time comes and you are looking back, what were you able to take away from the experience. I know it is a lot easier said than done, but still... try to learn something from your next "down." As corny as it might sound, what you take away may actually could change your life. 

For me I didn't think I was going to make it out alive, and now that I have I feel like I know so much more about what I want to do than ever. There are still so many questions I have that are unanswered at the moment, but no one should ever be in a rush to finish their own story.

I guess it just really is up to us to decide on how we look at everything going on. In a few years when I look back and ask myself who I am, I hope to have an answer that includes the lessons I learned to make all the times I hated going through worth it. 

Will you? 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friends and Addiction?

I think this is definitely another really common question I get asked when people talk to me about getting clean. I know it was for sure on my mind when I was in rehab.
"Do I really have to stop hanging out with my current friends?"
To be honest, I don't really know. Again, like all of my posts kinda say, it depends on the person and the people who are in their life. Also, I think it depends on how badly one wants to truly stay clean and no longer be in the grasp of their addiction. 

In my case, I knew right away I would have to make some changes. I kinda had two groups of friends:
  • The friends I have kept that knew about my addiction but constantly tried to help
  • The friends that joined in on everything and were in the same downward spiral I was in.
This last time I got clean was the first time I actually wanted to stay clean. Not just because I didn't have the money anymore. So anyways, at that point I knew that for this to even be possible I am going to have to surround myself with the people that truly want me to get better and are showing me that living sober is possible and, most importantly, not miserable. 

You have to kind of take yourself out of your own perspective and look at the situation from the outside. If you think being around [insert name here] is going to make you want to use or even just have drugs to give you, then for your own sake it would be better to no longer go about with them. 

I always thought of my friends as basically family, so I knew I couldn't just cut them out (which many people told me to do). I simply told them that for my own health, I have to focus on me right now and I couldn't put myself in that kind of situation. All of them knew they could come to me for help if they wanted to get clean. But even just sometimes talking on the phone to some of them was hard, so again, it depends on if you are comfortable with it. If you even have one doubt, then it would be safer not to. At least until you get more clean time under your belt and you feel like you can deal with it. 

Either way, if they really are your friend, you know... the real ones that actually want the best for you, then they will definitely understand. 

Besides, after some time I actually realized that I never really had anything in common with most of them, besides needing those drugs that is. So it was much easier to reestablish my friend circle than I originally thought. 
I wish the best to all of you

**In no way am I a counselor or professional in the subject. This is all simply based on personal experience**

Addiction Recovery doesn't have a timeline

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." 
It's definitely a simple quote, but I think that it relates a lot to how I look at recovering from addiction. Just like my last post stated, no one plan works for everyone. The one thing that everyone though will have in common is having to fight your way through the wreckage our addiction has left behind.

In my own recovery there were so many times that I questioned if this was even worth it. I just wanted to feel so much happier than I was. "It's been (X) months and I still feel crappy," went through my mind so many times. What about you guys... have you ever felt that way?

It was around that time I saw this quote. I read it over and over again just so it would really be engraved in my mind.

Everyone heals differently. We all have our own little ways of getting through something. Our own coping methods. So when I read stories online about people being clean for six, or even three months and they were saying how happy they were, I no longer questioned what I was doing wrong.

Everyone's war they are fighting has different durations, different obstacles, and so on. Does that make sense or am I starting to ramble again? I tend to do that.. sorry :p

Well on those bad days, we just have to remember to take it slower than usual. Definitely keep fighting on, just at a slower pace so no overwhelming can happen.

Never compare your recovery to anyone else's in a sense that you aren't feeling like (insert name here) was at 5 months. All we need to focus on is getting better. At whatever rate we are comfortable.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Overcoming Addiction: What's better for YOU?

Recently I was asked by a fellow blogger if I personally believe someone can beat addiction on their own. This really made me think for a few minutes. There was no way I could give a simple 2-3 sentence reply to that question so I decided to try to unravel my thoughts here.
Addiction is something I believe to affect everyone differently. The drugs we use differ, our habits are different, our routines, but most importantly, the methods that work for one to get clean and sober definitely are not all the same.
Back to the question. There are several ways I took this question, but in each version it all came down to one thing:
It depends on the person
For some people the only thing that makes it possible to stay clean is the AA/NA programs that are out there. By going to meetings and working the steps, many get the relief and support they need. For others though, it simply just is not for them. Working the program just doesn’t give them what they need, for some reason or another.
That was the case for me. I tried it out for a few months but quickly realized I needed to go a different route. What continues to work for me is seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist. With them, a specific plan was created just for me in a way that I was most comfortable with. This included some SSRI’s for example, along with hour-long sessions with the shrink to have the opportunity to talk some of that “stuff” out. Like all addicts, I wasn’t sure if this was going to work but at that point I was willing to try anything.
Now here I am 14 months later, still sober, and doing better that I ever thought I would at this point. For me the programs just made me constantly think of addiction which made me want to use. I figured out that going back to living life in a “normal” way was the only thing that was going to work for me.
Support is always crucial.
If you are working the program, doing what I did, or doing something else…I can not stress enough how important it is to have at least some kind of support group. Whether that be some part of your family, a few friends, or even an online community, just have support.
There is still many other ways I could answer this question, but I feel like I have already wrote half a novel. But again, it really just depends on the person and what works for them.
To anyone still struggling to find what works for them, please do not give up. It is hard but it IS possible. This, I am sure of.
Feel free to contact me to chat about anything.          

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sober Complications: Part 1

There comes a point in sobriety when the time that we were addicted seems like a completely different life. All the sudden my worries were in a completely different category. For the first time I was thinking about the future...and it really scared me. At first all I could think about was all the time that I had wasted. Everyone I had graduated high school with was just getting out of college and moving on with their professional life. So badly did I want to be at the same place as they all were.

I beat myself up for quite some time before I mentioned it to my counselor. His exact words escape me at this moment but he basically told me that my life just went down a different path. The experiences I had gone through, and the lessons I have learned could not of been taught in school or anywhere else. I thought about this for quite some time before I learned to appreciate it.

It is still a struggle sometimes for me to stay positive with this, but I have to remember that the one thing that truly matters was that I got sober. The reason I wanted to talk about this was that I found out many felt the same way.

No matter what time in our lives we managed to get sober....well, that should be all that matters. We got sober. Yes, many mistakes were probably made, but by getting clean, we have avoided making so many more. We now have the chance to make our lives better than ever before with a new appreciation for life in general. I think I am starting to ramble, but if you ask me... learning to appreciate life again in a whole new way is something that makes up for the time we struggled with addiction.

Our lives may be different, but it is up to us to decide if we want to make that something positive, or something negative. 

Life Quote

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle. "
- Albert Einstein  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

“Even if you are falling on your face, you are still moving forward.”
- Victor Kiam
It might  not be the best quote out there, but this one really spoke to me for some reason. I heard it from some counselor while I wan in rehab and it just stuck with me. At that point of my life... lets just say I just face-planted pretty damn hard. But it was that fall that gave me the courage to get up and wipe the dirt off. I had to learn. If I tripped over my shoelaces, or over a crack, I now know what not to do to keep me on my feet. You know? Or maybe I just interpreted it in a weird way haha, but hopefully you guys will like it. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Scared of Getting Clean: Addiction

My name is Danny and I am an Addict. 

That one sentence has come out of my mouth quite a lot this past year. I am 22 and recently just got over a 7-year addiction. The first few times I spoke those words I couldn't even look anyone in the eyes. I guess I was ashamed, embarrassed, or some other feeling that...well, isn't the best. The stigma that is addiction is such a terrible one.

When many think about the word, the man staggering in a dark alley, itching for his next fix is the picture they think about. That or some other publicized image. 

As an addict, I can definitely say this was on my list of worries. So many look at it as a moral failing of some kind. In no way is this true. Addiction does NOT define you as a person. With the many drugs being prescribed, it is now easier than ever to fall victim to addiction. Many start taking various prescribed drugs with no ill intentions at all, soon to realize they can't and don't want to stop. 

No one is perfect. Everyone can agree with that, right? 

Addiction is becoming such a common thing, even in the "safe little bubble" of Orange County (where I am from). In no way is this a good thing, but it is something that should tell you that you are not alone. Knowing that one thing helped me quite a bit actually. We all make mistakes, some bigger than others, but they still are just mistakes. It is how we learn from them that actually matters. It is how we fight back that really counts. We all have to forget what others might think, and simply worry about ourselves. Instead of making this something you are ashamed of, make it something you are proud of for overcoming.

Just don't give up.  

Here we go...

So I guess I have finally started my own blog. I am most definitely a “newbie,” so stick with me for the first few posts or so. But I guess I should start with a little about me right? 
I was born in Germany in 1991, where I was adopted by an amazing family. After a few years we moved to Ireland, and in 2000 we finally ended up in California. I can't really put all my future posts into just one category but there is one thing that should probably be mentioned: Yes, I am gay. Yes, I was addicted to opiates for 7 years. And no, I am not ashamed of either.
Now in no way am I saying addiction is a good thing, or something to be proud of, but I am now clean so it is just something that is now in my past. It is something that I am dealing with but we definitely all have our own problems. Besides, our experiences make us who we are.
Anyway. I am currently trying to get my life back on track. Finally put myself back in school…but I definitely have A LOT of making up to do. It shouldn’t be that stressful this time around though because for some reason I have come to love learning. Yeah haha Im a nerd I guess. 
Alright lets see….. well I have been clean now for about a year, I love the beach, I am definitely a night owl, have always loved writing, I have a dog that I am way too attached to. I have too many dance parties by myself when doing laundry, and I sing way too loud in my car…the list just goes on.
I guess I am just a regular guy trying to live my life the best way I know how. And yes, there is a lot of random stuff going through my mind at all times…so just warning you now. 
Your newest member of the community,