Addiction, Recovery & Taking Back Control of Our Lives

In the Showtime series, Dexter we understand that our rogue hero has a “dark passenger” that demands he act upon overwhelming and destructive compulsions. We watch Dexter fight to maintain a balance in which he can retain a sense of self control while also satisfying his urges. Dexter’s battle is a clear parallel to a drug addict who gradually loses all sense of self to the Disease of Addiction.

The key distinction is that Dexter only kills bad people.

“Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.” – One Republic “Counting Stars”

Addiction progressively strips us of our identity. It takes over slowly, insidiously, and undetected. It chips away at the entirety of who we are. It is unique in that our “dark passenger” insists that we are free and unencumbered. As the lines between ourselves and the disease become blurred, we are filled with self loathing. It is not our true selves that we hate. It is the debilitating transformation we experience in serving a cruel master.

As so many in Recovery have said, “I used to become something (outgoing, happy, free of pain…). Then I used because of what I’d become.” The ultimately perverse seduction is complete. The shame of an active drug addict is like none other.

….it’s been awhile
since I could hold my head up high…
…it’s been awhile
since I could stand
on my own two feet again….
The consequences that I’ve rendered…I’ve gone and f@cked things up again just like I always do
… it’s been awhile
since I can say
that I wasn’t addicted – Staind – “It’s Been a While”

We draw lines and promise ourselves we won’t cross them. Only on the weekends. No drugs ‘til after dark. No using before work. No heroin. No needles. The line keeps moving. We start saying things like, “Well at least I’m not…”

She’s got one line left. She hasn’t traded sex for drugs. The idea of it sickens her, enrages her. It’s been asked and offered by men who severely underestimate her. They’re the small timers.

On the other hand, being respected by serious drug dealers is a dubious thing indeed. She gets lines of credit because she always pays. What she’s seeing lately is just how much she’s paid. She tells me:

“It takes away everything I want to be.”

I tell her she can take it back – all of it – but that her success hinges on her willingness. The seduction of drugs is that they’re quick and painless. The bitch of Recovery is that it’s a hell of a lot of hard work, it sucks, it’s scary and it hurts. It’s also totally worth is and it’s the only way we become free.

Sometimes it’s like throwing a life line to someone who’s drowning and convincing them to let go of the extra weight they’re holding on to so they can grab it. She wants others to come with her. She wants to leave the door open just a crack. She’s willing to do the work but afraid to face the fear. I tell her she never has to be alone again.

 

She needs to sever every connection to the drug community. There are quick fixes – get a new phone number, stay out of the neighborhoods you know, warn your old “friends” to stay clear of you now that you’re a DEA informant. Whatever the f@ck it takes.

 

There’s an amazing Recovery center just down the street from my office. We’re standing outside smoking cigarettes and I tell her the answers are quite literally at the end of this road. If she can connect to those amazing men and women she can have what they have.

 She has money in her pocket (trigger). She’s two weeks clean (foundation for sanity).

It’s a great start.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.