My name is Tatiana and I am person in long-term recovery.
My sobriety date is April 19th 2011.
What does it mean to be an addict? Some people may shrug with a look of disgust on their face when you ask this question. Those who actually understand are riveted with compassion and love for the addict. Its funny how a complete misconception can create such a divide amongst people.
Many people still believe that addiction is a behavioral issue and that addicts are just “bad” people with a weak will. Although it may appear this way to the naked eye, this is so far from the truth.
Let me explain. Addicts are sick people. Being an addict, I have been ridiculed with names of junkie or crack-head. Yes, these names hurt me tremendously, but not as much as being imprisoned by my addiction and not knowing how to break free. I couldn’t just stop on my own!
The amount of mental sickness and self-hatred I experienced was heart breaking. I was not able to deal with my emotions or life based on past experiences and I wanted to die. I used drugs and alcohol to alleviate this pain and emptiness that never left me. It was with me everywhere I went since I was 13 years old. This feeling of emptiness is a common symptom of addiction.
My friends and family would wait by the phone wondering when they would get that phone call. The phone call that would reveal I was dead. It wouldn’t be a surprise after three drug overdoses and nearly dying in two year’s time.
I share this because I must let the world know the truth about addiction. It is not a behavioral or moral issue. However, reality for each person is perception. This is why it is extremely important for us to transform the negative perception of the people that simply just don’t understand addiction.
My recovery is a miracle. The only way I was able to recover was to admit to myself that I was in fact an addict, despite what anyone said about it. During the first 30 days of recovery for me, I remember screaming so loud toward the ocean of the rehab I was at because of how painful it was to initially break free.
I soon discovered that I had a disease of the mind, body, and soul. For me, I needed a spiritual experience to recover. I did have a spiritual experience. When I first began this process three years ago someone said to me that my recovery would move from my head to my heart eventually. I did not understand what they meant. Now, I understand exactly what that person meant, as tears of joy fill my eyes from time to time in gratitude of my life today.
My life is full of wonder, joy, and beauty. The greatest gifts given to me through my journey in recovery would be the sense of freedom and courage that fills my being. By being vulnerable, sharing myself and my story I am able to make a difference in the life of another person who has had a similar experience whether it be related to drugs or not.
To maintain my recovery, I am dedicated to a life of service through various recovery based social support networks. I often speak at schools and various addiction awareness events to educate people and promote recovery. I am no longer afraid to be who I am.
My life purpose is to use the triumph over the effects that drugs, alcohol and mental illness had on my life, as a force to inspire others to positively transform their lives. That is exactly why I am and will continue to be a part of this recovery movement. The more we share, the more people we carry this message to.