Other Stories of Addiction/Recovery

Discovery and Dialogue about Helping Others

I am very fortunate to not have ever struggled with addiction myself. I experimented with many drugs, being able to stop and start as I wanted. This ended up shaping my early views of addiction because I didn’t yet realize that everyone isn’t like that and isn’t able to use drugs casually. I (while slightly ashamed of this now) assumed that people who got addicted “wanted” to. They needed that crunch of addiction to sooth the other negative aspects in their life. The people I knew that struggled with addiction had some terrible situations going on at home, or in their lives and I “understood” why they would turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping method. I was definitely empathetic, but obviously a little clueless.

As I started having relationships with people who were struggling with addiction, I saw it as an opportunity to help, or “fix” the negative aspects of their life, thinking that they would be able to stop using because everything is better. Again, obviously that’s not the way it works, but it didn’t stop me from taking it very personal and becoming very upset and angry with myself for not being able to fix the problem, while also retaining some of that anger and frustration for the other person that they didn’t want to change. As I advanced in my career working with at risk teenagers, I learned more and more about addiction and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t being fair (to myself or the other people). I am still working on my reactions and not placing blame on both others and myself for something that is not in my control.

Hearing Josh talk about his story has been incredibly helpful. The things that Josh says he said/did in active addiction are very similar to things people have said to me in the past while in their addiction. It helps reinforce the idea that it’s not my job to fix it for someone, and I shouldn’t hold myself responsible for that. It also has helped open a dialog in my household so that I can learn more and understand more about other people’s feelings.

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