Saturday, December 29, 2007

When It's Time to Break Free

My emaciated and malnourished frame weighed less than 90 pounds, and my arms were covered with disgusting open sores and scars from where I had been shooting up. In some places the flesh was so destroyed that I could see all the way to my bones. Even though I was in a hospital, the staff was inattentive and hopelessly naïve when it came to safeguarding against the behavior of an addict.

For all they knew, I was getting better, when in fact I had relapsed into cocaine use. While they were busy trying to save me, I was determined to get my next fix. I managed to contact my dealer and arranged for a few hundred dollars worth of cocaine to come to me in the hospital. In the meantime, I stashed any and every possible supply the nursing staff left within my reach—syringes they'd just used on me, saline bottles, even a spoon from the cafeteria. When it comes to satisfying that urge, nothing, not even the walls of a hospital will stand in the way.

I was so close to death that my family and friends were saying their goodbyes. One of my dearest friends from college was instrumental in getting me into a treatment facility. Even once I was in there I was still stubborn and ignorant of how dire my situation was and thought I’d be fine on my own. I vividly recall one nurse candidly saying “You're dead honey; you'll be dead in 4 days if you don't get your skinny [butt] back in these doors."
  • Decide it's as good a time to change as any.
Realize you are lucky in stopping now as there are medicines available from any reputable physician that completely takes away cravings for narcotics (suboxin), meth amphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and nicotine (though I have not memorized the names of all of them). Just ask for help WITH that crutch. In fact, cold turkey stopping leads to more relapse than anything I know of with all the best of intentions. Those fade when the pain of withdrawals kick in. So don't suffer those pains. Get help because it is there now. Use every tool you can. That's what they're there for. Don't be a hero. Not at this stage anyway.
  • Make a wager with someone you love and trust.
Bet them you will still be clean next New Year's and if you are, he or she can take you to the restaurant of your choice for a lovely meal. Then win that bet. Make the reservation. Your beloved will happily take you to that meal and you might be surprised at all of the folks who show up to celebrate with you; people who have loved you all along but had no idea how to help you.
  • Get a reputable counselor and keep your appointments.
  • Find a church where you can find a small group that will pray with and for you.
Maybe an evangelical church where they will actually lay hands on you as they pray. It feels so good to be touched in this way and you will find the tears running in streams down your face. Be open with them about why you are there and what you need. They will offer to keep praying for you and many will offer you meals, friendship, weekly coffee meetings, etc. Take them up on every invitation and learn the beauty of simply showing up. Something powerful happens when we put ourselves in God's hands by trusting the people who daily communicate with God. Put yourself in their hands. I promise you will not regret this. It doesn't have to be a lifetime commitment. But without this special kind of support and love from strangers who will become like brothers and sisters, you may not have a lifetime.
  • What do you have to lose?

Choose has a 24-hour toll-free helpline to get your started. You can also visit the Choose website where they have listed a number of drug and alcohol rehab treatment facilities for a variety of circumstances. Please stop by their site and see what they have to offer.


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Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation is a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in the food into alcohol.

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