I had my first group counseling session last night. It was interesting. There were six or seven other young women, and every one of them was so sweet and compassionate. Their hearts are so enormous, but they’ve developed some heavily serrated edges to keep the world at bay. These women would no doubt be tough scrappers if encountered outside the group setting, but inside, there was no limit to their empathy for each other. It was great to witness.
I think I was the only one not court-ordered to be there. I wondered if it might seem odd to them, like they would think, “Why the fuck is she here voluntarily?”…but no such judgment was passed. Although it lasted an hour and a half, it seems like very little talking was actually accomplished. I mostly just said who I was and what I do. I said more than some of the girls. The time flew. We were supposed to illustrate our lives (literally…with colored pencils; I would have picked crayons, but alas). We briefly explained our artistic masterpieces, then everyone was standing up and hugging (something I’ll have to get used to) and out the door in a flash.
Group therapy is a new but fascinating realm for me. Some of the women had no misgivings about baring every bit of their souls for the group, while others were more guarded. I was categorically guarded. It seems a bit foolhardy to entrust people with such individual and delicate knowledge if they’re mere blips on the radar of each other’s lives. It’s a 12-week program. No one is on the same schedule, so you start any time and “graduate” 12 weeks later. People are constantly cycling in and out. What is the value in spilling the contents of my personal life for everyone to see, pick through, and discard as they please? That requires more trust than I’m ready for. I’ve spent most of my life building a defensive stronghold brick by brick, and it’s not going to come down overnight because the girl next to me is comfortable taking a chance on the group.
The intake paperwork asked a lot of personal questions. I wasn’t expecting it. What do first sexual encounters and family history have to do with getting clean? Granted I’m familiar with all the psychological assessment bullshit that probation and parole use because I see it all the time at work, and it’s not actually bullshit…it has a lot of value in a certain context. Certainly, I’m the first to admit that my drug use started as a means to cope. But I’m just looking to get clean, not stir up feelings or come to terms with my past. Part of me is chastising myself as I write this, because I know my attitude is completely unreasonable and faulty. The same memories that steered me toward drugs will be waiting for me when I’m sober. During the two years I’ve numbed my brain, I’ve merely stalled myself in dealing with the inevitable. I thought I had actually found a solution, but I just heaped a bigger problem on the pile, which appeared to make everything underneath it go away. I’m scared of lifting that off and encountering what I’ve been neglecting for so long. My biggest hope is that it won’t be so bad, that maybe drugs did serve a purpose in giving me a sense of detachment and distance.
Filed under Drugs, My Life
Yesterday I went to a counseling session. It felt so good to do something positive for myself. It lends a new perspective to have things evaluated through the eyes of another person, especially someone who is so clear-headed and objective. It was quite sobering, and I left feeling both relieved and scared. We worked on a plan to start moving toward sobriety, although our goals are different…I want to get back to where I’m in control of my using again; he wants me completely clean. I know I’m deceiving myself if I think I can contain my habit, but the idea of living a chemical-free life for more than a week is alien and nerve-racking. I have zero capacity for controlled use.
He talked about enabling. He defined it as people who allow me to use without imposing any negative consequences. When I think about it in those terms, I guess I know a lot of enablers. He talked about building a support system of about four people to be a safety net when I’m feeling tempted to use. I couldn’t give him four names. We came up with two, but it was a stretch. My habit has given me the courage and motive to burn bridges, sabotage healthy relationships, and withdraw from the world. Two years ago I would have been able to name a host of people that I felt close enough to trust and reach out to for help. Addiction is most efficient when it is safeguarded by isolation. Over the last couple of years, I’ve consistently chosen addiction over relationships with family and friends.
He talked about methadone. I’m not sure what to think. I asked about potential for abuse, and he said there is potential, but distribution is regulated. I didn’t ask what happens if you crush it up and shoot it with smack, because if it is another way to get fucked up, then I’m all for it. I will have to learn more about it. Therein lies my vice…I tend to abuse anything I can get my hands on. I thought of asking about buprenorphine, since it supposedly has a lower potential for abuse, but I stopped myself because why on earth would I choose a treatment that can’t be milked for another high over one that can? He did say it’s dangerous to be on heroin and methadone at the same time.
I don’t know whether it’s wise to voluntarily consent to a government drug test (I assume it would be accessible to the government if it’s through a clinic) and have it become a part of my permanent medical history. The thought of having my name next to a positive check is profoundly disconcerting. It may never make a difference, but once I commit, I can’t undo it. I would hate to clean up, put my life back together, try to get a job in the courts someday, and be denied because the information surfaces. Maybe I should stick to short-term goals and worry more about surviving now than about the far-off future, but I don’t want to dig a hole for myself that I can’t undo.
From HBO’s deeply insightful series Addiction comes this list on myths of addiction (adapted from Myths of Addiction by Carlton K. Erickson, Ph.D.):
- Addicts are bad, crazy, or stupid.
- Addiction is a willpower problem. (Addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is not under conscious control.)
- Addicts should be punished, not treated, for using drugs.
- People addicted to one drug are addicted to all drugs.
- Addicts cannot be treated with medications.
- Addiction is treated behaviorally, so it must be a behavioral problem. (Addiction is a brain disorder that is treated by changing brain function through several types of treatments, like medicine and/or psychotherapy.)
- Alcoholics can stop drinking simply by attending AA, meetings, so they can’t have a brain disease.
And the two biggest myths…addicts must reach rock bottom before they can recover, and addicts must desire treatment to recover. In fact, the longer an addict waits to seek treatment, the more difficult treatment becomes; and even addicts who are forced into treatment can recover fully.
Filed under Drinking, Drugs