Addiction recovery is an ongoing process.
I was reminded of that recently, as some of the old voices tried to creep back into my soul.
I took hydrocodone for over a dozen years, to help numb my incredible and ongoing back pain. As I’ve reported in the past, I suffer from four different spinal conditions, have had two back surgeries and have pretty much been in constant pain since I was 16 years old.
Thirty-five years and counting.
In 2012 I quit taking hydrocodone, but kept taking Tramadol, since my doctor had told me several years ago it was the “highest dose of non-narcotic pain reliever on the market.”
Once I was good and addicted, however, the medical community changed their tune. They not only listed Tramadol as a narcotic, but said it had a “high risk for addiction and dependence.”
Oh, wonderful. Thanks a lot, doc!
About a year and a half ago I took on the arduous task of quitting Tramadol cold turkey. That was harder than the hydrocodone, and I was really hurting for a few days. Going off hydroco wasn’t as hard, since I still had the Tramadol to fall back on. But now I had NOTHING.
I didn’t share much about this, due to thinking my addiction was nothing compared to those who quit taking harder drugs such as heroin, meth and Oxycontin.
But addiction is addiction.
I managed to get through that, and was finally able to tell people I was “free of pain pills.”
One thing I’ve recently learned from experience, though, is addiction is a sly ole fox. It can be hidden for years, only to slip back into your life undetected. In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus said:
“When an evil spirit comes out of a person, it travels through dry places looking for a place to rest, but it finds none. So it says, ‘I will go back to the home I left.’ When it comes back, it finds that home still empty. It is all neat and clean. Then the evil spirit goes out and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself. They all go and live there, and that person has even more trouble than before. It is the same way with the evil people who live today.”
A month ago I found my old stash of Tramadol. Wow, I thought I’d thrown them away.
About two weeks ago I hurt my back, and have been having a really hard time, honestly. I got a little rush of excitement, though, when I remembered my old pain pills were tucked away in my bedside table.
“This is MY prescription,” I thought, “so no big deal if I take a couple. Perfectly legal, and now I have a handle on things. It’s been over 18 months, and I have everything under control.
“These are from a bottle with my name on them. I’m not buying them from a dealer. I’ve learned my lesson about addiction.”
On and on the excuses went.
So I took a couple of them, and they took the edge off. WONDERFUL! They got me through the day, and I was still free from their power of addiction. Thus, no big deal, right?
“This time is different,” says I to myself. “I’m a new man. I’m just taking them to get me through a difficult time. That’s all.”
But late at night, when everyone else was asleep and the house was dark and quiet, I could almost hear those pills calling my name. Their seduction was ALMOST too strong to resist.
“You’re no addict,” they seemed to whisper. “Things are different now. You have restraint. You have the power to just take a couple here and there. Take the edge off. You’re no addict.
“No big deal. You can handle this.”
I used to almost apologize to those who have conquered addiction of drugs like Xanax and heroin, but no more. I’ve stopped saying, “MY addiction was nothing like YOUR addiction. Mine was doctor-prescribed pain pills due to back pain. Nothing like taking the hard stuff.”
No, addiction is addiction, I’ve learned.
I’m beginning to recognize the voice of the demon’s call, subtle though it may be.
“Please flush all those pills,” I finally told my wife.
“Why?” she asked. “You’ve had that same bottle for years. You haven’t been taking them again, have you?”
“Have you?” she inquired again, a little worried.
“Well, only a couple,” I confessed. “But I can’t handle them. I’m an addict, I see that now. The fact that MINE were prescribed by a doctor while others buy them for five bucks apiece off the street makes no difference whatsoever.”
“I’m an addict,” I said again, staggered by the thought.
I’m not homeless. I have a job and a car. I have a house and bills to pay and everything. “I’m different,” I kept telling myself. “I’m not like those people you see on shows like ‘Intervention.'”
I guess all addicts DON’T look alike, and I thank God for giving me the strength to resist.
“So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)”
Not sure why I’m writing this “online confessional,” but I felt like someone needed it. Somebody needs to know they’ve not been abandoned, and that they CAN resist.
You’re still God’s child, and with His power, you CAN be victorious!
If you are being haunted by the demon of addiction, please know there’s help. Don’t give in! Don’t be deceived by the voices which say you can handle it; that you are fully in control, and “this time will be different.”
It’s a lie. Reach out. Don’t give up!
This blog won’t mean much to some, but it may mean EVERYTHING to others.
You are not alone. We’re all in this fight together.
The battleground is addiction, and the prize is LIFE itself.
Never give up. Never give in. Never surrender!
Prayin’ for ya.