Overcoming Past Substance Abuse – When You Want Your Addiction Back
It’s been years since I’ve had a relapse back into my addiction, but there are still days I wonder when something will happen that will put me back in that place. If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I crave the excuse. If substance abuse was all bad, we’d never use. It’s hard to explain to those who have never struggled with it why we miss it. However, it’s a deep dark secret for many addicts in recovery that there are times that we want the addiction back.
For me, those feelings are all a culmination of my history of use. It’s about understanding why I was an addict in the first place and what my triggers are. It’s about understanding that my path to recovery is not the same as someone else’s, but that I can lean on others in that community for help.
Understanding Why it Started
Addiction is like being in an abusive relationship. Everyone tells you to leave, but when things are good, things are really good. There are so many promises. However, it’s all about understanding why addiction tricks you into convincing you to come back time and time again.
Each person’s story about “why” is different. For some, there is a predisposition to developing a substance abuse problem through their family history. For others, it has more to do with their surroundings. For some it’s a mixture of both.
My family history definitely isn’t squeaky clean, though my specific drug of choice isn’t common in my family. When I was younger, I welcomed substance abuse as a way to cope. My peers helped to lead me down that path, though I’ve always thought I would have used regardless of who I was around.
When I start to miss it, I start to really question what it is I’m trying to cope with, because I now understand some of why it started.
When is it that I miss it the most? What caused me to feel this way? If my addiction was an ex, I would have been late-night-texting them by now. Identifying my own triggers has been really helpful in understanding why I’m craving it, and how to stop that feeling in its tracks.
My triggers tend to be hardship and sadness. Dealing with grief has pushed me towards relapse in the past, and when that time of year rolls around again where I’m reminded of the grief; I start to miss it. Identifying those triggers helps me to be prepared when they happen.
Instead of being surprised by the little voice in my head telling me that it’s okay to submit to my addiction, I am prepared for it and better able to ignore it and remedy the triggers.
Designing Your Own Path to Recovery
Recovery is not the same for everyone, and it’s important to keep that in mind when you start feeling guilty about craving your addiction. It’s about understanding that missing it is not just missing the substance, but the entire world that addiction lives in.
Sometimes it’s a lot easier to submit than it is to fight, so it’s natural to have thoughts about going back to that place and how much easier it would be. It’s a common thought.
You just have to keep reminding yourself that the fight to climb back out of the hole is 100 times harder than falling into it.
My journey involved a few relapses in the past due to consistent forks in the road offering me a shortcut to go back – shortcuts that I always have to walk past. My path didn’t include a lot of meetings in AA or NA, it didn’t involve rehab, and it didn’t involve a lot of people in my life knowing about it. All of those things are okay, because my path works for me. Missing the addiction is just a bump in the road that I have to manoeuvre around.
Taking Comfort in Your Community
As a community, addicts can learn from each other. No matter what your addiction is, the skeleton of the problem is similar for many of us.
One thing that many of us can relate to is the link between substance abuse and mental health. About 18 percent of the population struggles with anxiety, which can be a major link in substance abuse, as many people with mental health struggles try to self-medicate before or even after diagnosis.
Not only can it be comforting to see that others with substance abuse problems share some of the same storyline, but it can also be comforting to see that – despite those similarities – it’s possible to get through them.
If you live with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, it’s no wonder you may want your addiction back. That feeling is natural, and many in our community can relate. It’s a sign that we may need to talk to someone about our mental health when we start feeling that way.
It was nice having my addiction around. Expectations were low, I didn’t have to face the hard things, I was wrapped in an inviting blanket of avoidance. When things were hard, it was there for me. For these reasons, it makes sense why I would have moments where I want it back.
BUT. Those memories and feelings are manipulations for the horror that addiction really was.
When I start to feel a longing for those times, I remember why I have an issue with substance abuse in the first place and what my triggers are.
I realize my path to recovery is designed in a way that fits me, and that I have a community of people that understand me. Together we can fight those feelings without feeling judged.
I may have times when I want to go back to my addiction, but that doesn’t mean that I will.