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The Realities of Addiction

The Realities of Addiction

 

Waking up in the hospital bed, barely able to move, I felt a lucidity I hadn’t felt in ages. 

 

For the first time, I wasn’t running anymore. 

 

The first faces I saw through my blurred vision were the worried countenances of my mother and father. 

 

The shame set in half a second later. 

 

I’d fallen so far. 

 

There was no word more inadequate than “sorry”, and yet I had nothing else to say.

 

Most people think there is some kind of special formula in life that guarantees success. 

 

“If I just have X+Y 

I will find happiness

I will find fulfillment

I will be content.” 

 

As families go, I’ve been blessed with what most people would envy; all the makings of a “perfect life”.

 

Growing up, I was born the eldest of two sons, to a loving pair of parents who have been nothing but supportive all my life. 

 

Looking back, I wonder what a fine sight we must have been - picture perfect family of four who kept their noses clean and out of trouble. 

 

I got decent grades in primary school, and I was a quiet, relatively unproblematic child. 

 

From a young age, both my parents, people of great faith, brought me to church.

 

As such, I grew up surrounded by Sunday school, bible study, and praise and worship. 

 

Constantly surrounded by perfect people living perfect lives, excelling at just about every facet of life imaginable.

 

I don’t remember when exactly, but at some point, I came to the silent, unexciting realisation that I did not believe the words I heard up on that pulpit, nor the ones falling out of my own open mouth every Sunday. 

 

I distinctly remember thinking “This faith is not my own.”

 

All at once, everything seemed strange and unfamiliar. 

 

I began to feel constricted, fully aware of my own frustration at this simple realisation, and recognising the impossible standard I was to live up to, the pressure of being a perfect son. 

 

From then on, everything lost its meaning. 

 

There was no point in trying in school, or even life itself.

 

Life slowed to a crawl, and I spent every day hiding within myself, sitting on my pain, pushing it deep, deep down, and deeper still,  watching each day roll past

 

I was in poly when I first smoked my first cigarette. 

 

Sure, many parents have given their children “the talk”, usually entailing a hypothetical bad friend who offers just about every kind of illegal substance to them. 

 

It’s almost as old as parenting itself.  SAY NO

 

But I didn’t the first time. 

 

Or the next. 

 

My parents’ beliefs didn’t matter anymore, all that mattered was that I pushed the pain deeper down, and deeper still. 

 

It wasn’t long after that I turned 18, and alcohol was quick to follow as another vice I picked up,  just another tool to numb the pain.

 

At each turn, I turned to harder and harder substances. Smoking. Drinking. Drugs. 

Numb, numb, numb. 

 

I’d just about checked off the entire checklist of a parent’s nightmare. 

 

And sooner rather than later, I overdosed.

 

As I laid on the hospital bed, I looked into my parent’s eyes.

 

Love is an incredible, powerful thing. 

 

And looking up at my parents that day, I experienced love looking into their faces, into eyes that held no blame, but only forgiveness. 

 

I experienced love in my friends who visited me in the hospital, who took time out to make sure I was okay, before proceeding to give me lecture after lecture. I experienced love, in realising that all these were the things that make life worth living.

 

The truth is addiction isn’t attached to any single substance, not a moral failing nor a choice — it’s a condition of the mind. 

 

Even as I type this, 3 years clean, and 2 days into my first ever corporate job, that day still sits fresh in my mind. 

 

Just like many other addicts, the cravings still come and go, sometimes at the oddest hours, sometimes triggered by the most random things. 

 

But Love has made all the difference, and I never would be where I am today if not for it. 
 

Published on 05/05/2021

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