Things I Learned From Drug Addicts

To know someone in their twenties who has never once experimented with drugs is about as common as seeing a shark run down the beach on flamingo legs to catch its prey (my goodness, could you imagine if sharks could walk? I’d never be able to sleep soundly.) As weird as it may be, here I am. Never smoked anything other than a cigar, never stuck a needle in my arm apart from a blood draw. In today’s culture that’s bizarre, but at the same time it suits me because never have I ever been a conventional woman. I’m not advertising my ‘super sober’ status to pat myself on the back, just because I’ve avoided crack doesn’t mean I’ve never had an addiction, that beast comes in all shapes and sizes.

Although I personally haven’t been addicted to a particular substance, addiction has played a significant role in my life for quite some time; and I pray it always does. Currently, I’m involved in a Christ-based recovery program for those with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. It’s basically Celebrate Recovery for teens, it’s a place for any young person struggling with anything to come and let go of stress hardcore addictions aren’t required to get in the door. Also, it’s completely anonymous. Check out Freedom Haus on Facebook. Battle scars fascinate me, it’s usually those who’ve been through some serious you-know-what that are the most honest. In ministry and life in general I’ve learned some remarkable lessons from those who’ve been addicted, from being taught how to drive by an ex-con gangbanger to not taking life too seriously, here are just a few amazing things drug addicts have taught me.

Top 5 Things I learned from drug addicts

1) Never let fear hold you back.
2) Be in the moment by submerging in experiences.
3) Plans never go as planned, learn to roll with the punches.
4) Scars are meant to be shown as proof that God heals.
5) Recovery is not a joke and it is always possible.

To elaborate…

1) Impulse.

It’s true that when impulsivity is swirled together with addiction it goes nowhere good because the motive is selfish and the actions are destructive. However, impulse in itself is not bad at all, it can actually be quite fantastic. I’ve seen a completely different side to impulsiveness via several different addicts that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Yes, it’s selfish and a savage form of cowardice in attempt to bury hurt, but the truth I’ve extrapolated is that impulsivity is not afraid. It can be so very rewarding to go after things in life with unbridled passion. Usually those with an impulsive streak are easy going, they’re more relaxed than those who plan everything or think about everything (that’s me) because they know plans hardly ever go as planned. A certain amount of spontaneity is good for the soul.

2) Time.

Seeing time through the eyes of an addict was honestly a game-changer for me. It’s still something I try to adapt to my own life. I’ve always been looking ahead or staring in the rearview, addicts are not like that. They are wherever they are at that moment. They live in the now. Pretty much because the world of drugs is centered on intense and immediate satisfaction, the motive is depressing and damaging but the lesson-the bigger picture-is divine. Life should be about rolling with the punches, being present, not just involved with experiences but totally submerged in them. Engulfed in the now. Carpe diem used to frustrate me maliciously but the frustration ended when I saw people in my life doing it. Living in the now suddenly became very appealing. Time as I’ve learned it through those who were addicted is about moments. Moments matter. Be in the moment. For a day dreamer/night thinker like me this is a nearly impossible concept to grasp. It almost hurts. I like to process the past and plan the future, which is the opposite of being present. You know what happens when you’re like that? You miss out. In the words of Johnny Cash ‘my sweetest friend’ said to me I’m sure more than once; “I wish I could just give you some of my carelessness!” It makes sense that she yelled it because in order for me to listen to the critical things, they often need to be shouted point blank. I’m certainly glad she did because it’s something I’ll always keep with me. I can’t say I’ll be careless because wisdom prevents that I will however, strive to be carefree.

3) Healing.

War wounds. My goodness I love them. Grey’s Anatomy is a show I watch way too much, it makes me want to be a surgeon just so I could help and heal. Or at least work in the ER to stitch up nasty cuts. “Scars are hot. Scars are badass. Scars are poetic.” While I agree with Dr. Torres you know what’s not so badass? How the scars appear in the first place. Every single one of us is fighting a hard battle. Every person at one time or another has been marred beyond recognition. Scars are not specific to one soul everybody has them, some on the inside others on the outside. Secrets, stacks of stories, enough skeletons to burst open a closet and fill a graveyard, those are the things I’ve seen both up close and not so personal that cause the scars. The injuries in others have offered me perspective on my own bumps and bruises. It’s comforting to know that all the broken hearts in the world still beat. Recovery is a diamond I’ve unearthed through the dirt that is addiction. Just like scars, healing is no respecter of persons anybody can do it. Anybody can bounce back from anything. “Don’t worry that I’m going to meetings,” James Dean said to me once as I inquired about the twelve steps, “worry when I’m not.” Of course that’s not his real name but the alias fits and someone has to protect the guilty. There is no pit too deep that God’s hand cannot pull you out of. It starts with hope and hope starts with Christ.

In summary, this article in no way condones addictions of any kind. All of them, substance or not, will destroy the soul if allowed. To anyone struggling in this area I want to say first that you are not you are not alone and that seeking godly counsel, Christ-based recovery (such as Freedom Haus the local ministry mentioned above) is not the only way to heal but it is the best as far as making a full recovery. Thankfully, rehab programs are available across the country to help people get better and realize, of course they matter and they have so much to offer. Seek help because you matter and you are loved. We are all addicted to something that takes the pain away. In my experience with the addicts I’ve known and loved, I’ve found more often than not, a crude but thin layer is the only thing covering a fierce heart.

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