Ben Emerling is a content writer who works in the Metro Detroit area. Creative writer by day and avid adventurist by night. He dedicates his life to helping people achieve sobriety. Ben previously interned for 12up and currently works for Monarch Shores.
If you can say you have never been affected by addiction you are extremely lucky. Most people are impacted by the actions of an addict whether it be a family member, friend or acquaintance. The most common stigma behind addiction is what we see on TV. Some guy or girl behind a dumpster with a needle in their arm right?
Certainly, this person is most likely an addict but addiction is more common than you may think. Addiction is a disease that doesn’t care what race, ethnicity, religion, age or economic background you are. It can affect anyone. All we ever hear is the negative effects of addiction but what if I told you addiction affected me in the most positive way imaginable.
I started abusing drugs and drinking when I was a teenager. The first time I got high was (what I thought) the greatest feeling on the planet. All my worries, fears and pain went away after that first joint. Everything that day was better. Food tasted amazing, I could vibrantly feel the music, my body was relaxed and my mind was at ease. I never wanted this feeling to fade away and instantly had a new passion. I was 13 the first time I smoked pot and before you know it, it was regular habit.
I discovered alcohol shortly after. My first drinking experience was awful but for some reason I loved that feeling of being 100% out of control. I drank enough to be fully drunk and ended up throwing up by the end of the night. Most people would have thought it was an awful experience but I thought just the opposite. Drinking became a weekend favorite of mine along with smoking weed.
In high school, all of the “cool” kids were doing drugs and partying on the weekends. To fit in with the crowds and become popular, my drug use increased ten fold. Smoking weed every day, occasionally popping prescription pills during the day and always hammered on the weekends was the norm for me. My high school career was a page out of the movie Dazed and Confused for those of you who have seen that movie.
By Junior year of high school, I started noticing negative consequences. My friend group completely changed, my family stopped trusting me and I found myself getting in trouble. My grades plummeted and I quit all after school activities to get high. Of course I needed money to support my habit so I ended up selling drugs.
And whose drugs? My families. My mother, brother, sister and I were prescribed to Adderall for ADHD but it did not take long for me to realize that the rich private school will pay anything for these. I sold all of the pills in the house. I eventually got caught by my mom and was forced to go to outpatient drug rehab for the first time.
Fast forward, to my first year of college. This was the moment I was waiting for my entire life. College was supposed to be a time to further your education, grow up and figure out what you want to do in life right? For some that was the case, but for me, I’ll stick to partying.
Finally a time of a complete freedom. Instead of only having parties to go to on the weekends college was a time where it is acceptable to party every day of the week with no occasion necessary. It was a dream come true in the beginning but that only lasted a week until my life went crashing down the drain.
By the second month of college, I fully stopped going to class. I ran out of money, had no friends, family disconnected from me and I was outright miserable. I couldn’t stop using, I lacked sleep and I was malnutritioned. My diet consistent of drugs and alcohol with a cheese burger here or there. I disconnected from my friends because I thought they judged me and it wasn’t long before I overdosed on Adderall.
The excessive amount of Adderall I took would have killed most people and to be honest I have no idea how I didn’t die. I hadn’t slept for four days and was living in a false reality known as drug induced psychosis. In a manic state, I ended up in the hospitals psychiatric unit. After my stint in the psych ward I ended up in a luxury rehab. After learning about everything sobriety has to offer I was finally broken down and willing enough to give it a try.
After my nine month stay in rehab, I made the decision to keep drugs and alcohol out of my life. When I quit doing drugs and drinking, I thought my life was over. However, it was the start to a new one. At 19, I truly think I was born again. I immersed myself into recovery and joined a maintenance program. I followed through the 12-steps of the program and received unthinkable results.
This program saved my life. When I started going to meetings all I wanted to do is to stay sober. I did not realize I was going to receive happiness, contentment and freedom. I am no longer a slave to this disease and it is all because of the work I have done. I do not regret anything I did in the past because it made me who I am today. I live with gratitude and anything I put my mind too I can accomplish it. Every day I wake up and understand that I am an addict who simply does not use anymore.
I have been sober since April 21st of 2010 and in the six years of sobriety I have accomplished more than I ever thought was possible. I have the closest bong with my family which I never thought was possible, all of my friends are sober and I have goals in my life today. I walk around with my smile on my face 80% of the time. People rely on me to be sober and there for them today which was never the case while I was using.
So too answer the above question, how has addiction affected you? Addiction turned me into a better human being as long as I stay sober.
[ by Ben Emerling. Check out more of Ben’s stuff here. ]