Addiction – just the word still sends shivers down my spine and sends my blood pumping hot through my extremities. There is a saying that once you are an addict, you are always an addict. That would make me a recovering addict, though I haven’t used in over seven years. People that have had severe physical addictions understand the bleakness of it. My life revolved around crystal meth for two years. In fact, after I quit, there were many painful days and nights spent struggling through the physical withdrawals, and the mental withdrawals will haunt me for years.
“The word addiction carries a negative connotation,” states J. Margolis and E. Langer, in the journal article in Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors. They say, “We, in the United States, have decided that to be an addict, (whatever the addiction) is undesirable.” There is a stigma associated with being addicted to a substance, be it something as benign as chocolate or as deadly as narcotics. The person is considered weak and mindless to allow anything to take over their life. An addict “habituate[s] or abandon[s] (oneself) to something compulsively or obsessively” (Dictionary).
On my 19th birthday, my fiancé and I, and a couple of our friends, all got together to party. I wanted something spectacular and new, so my friend introduced us to meth. As long as I live, I will never be able to forget the feeling of the first rail I snorted. Remembering makes my heart speed up and my palms get clammy. It was horrid and fantastic all rolled into one long night; a night that sentenced me to a lifetime of nightmares.
Junkie, tweaker, pillhead, pothead, chocoholic, alcoholic, nymphomaniac, ludomaniac; these are only some of the names that we associate with addicts. The Latin origin was addictionem, which means “awarding or devoting.” In the 1600’s when the word was first recorded, it referred to having an inclination or penchant for something, and was “less severe” than the way the word is used now. In 1906, it was used for people who were hooked on opiates (Etymonline). Thus, the word’s current implications began to form.
The infatuation started the night of my birthday, and the next two years of my life were a blur of pain, darkness and hopeless desperation. There was never more than five days that went by that my fiancé and I weren’t high. We were considered “functional” addicts, because we continued to work and pay our bills, putting on the façade (for ourselves mainly) that we had control over this twisted desire. Denial plays an important role in addiction. We both snorted at our workplaces, and called in many days “sick”. We stopped hanging out with any friends that weren’t using. The habit consumed us and turned into an obsession. Every weekend literally consisted of staying up from Thursday until Monday night. I spiraled into a major depression.
Even after I was hospitalized from a serious injury that was related to “tweaking”, (the slang for being high on amphetamines), and I was forced to get professional help for rehabilitation, we still continued to use for another full year. Quitting seemed futile, the need to feel that next high was all consuming. There is no way to convey the utter sorrow that plagued my heart and soul, the private embarrassment of not being strong enough to say no, even as I watched in horror as my life crumbled around me.
The Encarta World English Dictionary defines an addict as “somebody dependent on [a] drug: somebody who is physiologically or psychologically dependent on a potentially harmful drug”; or “[an] enthusiast: somebody who is very interested in a particular thing and devotes a lot of time to it”. There are lists and lists of substances, items, and even actions that are considered addicting. Institutions and programs are in place everywhere to help support and guide addicts (of any kind) to a life without their vice.
Addiction is a powerful word that carries varying significance to different people. I still carry physical, emotional and mental scars from those wretched two years. No longer am I ashamed of my physical scars or the fact that I was an addict. Those scars serve as a reminder of the consequences of my actions and how they affect my loved ones as well. To overcome the vicious cycle of a physical or mental dependence, the strength has to come from within.
Dictionary.com. 2010. Web.
“Drug Addict.” Photograph. DrugFreeHomes. Web. 5 Oct 2010.
Encarta World English Dictionary. North America. Microsoft Corporation, 2009. Web.
Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary. 2001 – 2010. Web.
Margolis, Jonathon, and Ellen Langer. “An analysis of addictions from a mindful/mindless perspective.” Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors (1990): 107 – 115. Web. 5 Oct 2010.
by Anna Maldzhiev
At 17, I dropped out of high school and ran away with the man who would later become my husband and the father of my children. We moved to Portland Oregon and lived there for five years, away from everything we knew and all of our family. That is the period of my life that is discussed in this essay. In 2004 (one year of being clean and sober) we got married and moved back to Florida, and had our first daughter in 2006. In 2009 we had our second daughter. After realizing that I wanted more for my family than my husband did, we separated and got divorced when our youngest was only 9 months old.
This is my second semester of college, and at times has been a challenge after ten years of being out of school. I have two little girls that are healthy, sweet, adorable and intelligent. They are my whole world and help keep me motivated in going back to school. My desire is to model the strong independent woman that I want them both to become.