Addiction was not a term that I had heard or used until well into my adulthood despite that I was surrounded by it as a child. I have nothing to weigh in about whether it can be the fault of your family or anything like that, but I do know recovering addicts who came from both addicted and non-addicted families. In my case, my uncle was one way when he was on heroin and another when he was on crack. On heroin, he was my best friend and nice and relaxed and on crack, he was scary, beat my mother up and threatened us with knives. I remembered knowing that there was always an outside solution to a feeling and my personal view on feelings was that they were almost all untenable even “positive” emotions. I was drinking small amounts almost daily for periods as early as 10 years old and began using solvents by 12 or 13. I felt that there was a drug for everything that was wrong with me.

My father represented the success of living to me and the opposite of a dependent and weak person which was how I felt, I was hopeless if I was not high.

As a 14/15 year old my behaviour around alcohol and weed looked far more intense than recreational and my behaviour was erratic, unpleasant and often dangerous, I was disturbing to be around.

My father had started a new family and although I was most likely very wrong, I did not feel like I either fitted in or was wanted in the new family, their friends would say things like “Oh who’s friend, are you?” Or express that they had no idea that my father had other children – this was no one’s fault but I was so sensitive I took everything negative or sad that I ever heard from anyone, even random people I did not know, and used it to further self-loathe and self-destruct. By 15 I had gotten into cocaine and crack use, 16 “speed” and 17 my “drug of choice” which is/are strong opiates. The first time I did this I vomited, cried and felt what I could later identify as something like love, and that was because it was the first time, I had really felt safe. The burning unstoppable desire I felt when I needed a drug that I did not have in hand, I often felt it about other things, men and their love or attention, sex, physical self-harm, gambling, stealing, shopping, and the pursuit of these and drugs had me living a dangerous and depressing life. I hurt every single person that loved me and anyone that knew me was at risk of being negatively affected by my disease and abject compulsion to use drugs on a daily basis.

Again, these were not the sort of things that I discussed.

I was sent to a rehabilitation facility at the age of 19 when my father saw my self harm burn wounds.

This was the first time I met clean people, but who had been just like me, fiends for drugs and daily users with no sanity in their lives. I started to meet people who were totally abstinent and learning to live their lives without drugs and super destructive behaviours with the help of 12 step programs. Einstein is credited as defining insanity “as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” this, to me, typified what I had been doing my whole life, so I decided to try something different. Just as I had trusted drug addicts to tell me where to get drugs, I began to trust clean addicts to tell me how they stayed clean. As a child there was no promise for me, no sanity, no life other than the sad destruction of the life of a druggie, as a recovering addict practicing total abstinence and being willing to change, I have a life worth more to me than the other life. Sometimes emotional honesty and intimacy with others is so unnatural and painful for me it seems so tempting to use, and the recovering path is harder, but I would choose the harder path every time, for me and for my son.