Will You Be an Addict Next Year?

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With the New Year comes new hope, reflected in our resolutions that this year we will be a better person than last.

For those caught in addiction, there’s one burning desire that rises above all others: Can I quit this year?

Addiction doesn’t start from zero

As much as the media would sometimes have us believe, no one becomes an addict with the first dose. It takes time and training – real effort. For most, it’s a gradual process, a flow from casual user to regular user to addict.

Somewhere in the process, we ask ourselves, “Will I become an addict?” And the answer that usually comes back, the most dangerous answer, is “not me.” Why is this the most dangerous? Because it’s a lie telling us that we need to keep doing what we are doing, the essential denial that keeps us from really seeing what’s going on. Others see it, but we manage to ignore the signs. “Not me,” we say.

But somewhere inside the question still comes up, and at some level we know if we stay the course it’s a certainty. As much as we believe we will never become “that guy,” it’s a gnawing suspicion that next year we might be that person we hate.

Already hooked

For those who already realize they are bound to a drug as firmly as any slave to his master, the question of being an addict next year is about recovery. They want to know if it is even possible because it certainly doesn’t seem so. Every attempt to stop leads to a revisiting of the same routine: get and use.

But here, too, there is hope. Start now and you could very well be months into recovery by next year. Just as you once thought it unlikely that you would be so deep into your drug, you now can’t see yourself out of the hole. But look around; there are those who were once just as stuck who are now free.

A story from the trenches

You may not know who Jael Strauss is. Six years ago, at 22, she was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. “Stunning” was a good description. She made the finals.

Sometime between then and now, the question came up for Jael. “Will I be an addict next year?” Unfortunately, the answer was yes. She is addicted to methamphetamine.

How do we know? She appeared on the Dr. Phil show to describe her addiction. The pictures are striking, as terrible as any of the before and after meth shots. At 28 now, she looks 40 or 50. Her face is blemished and pocked. Worse, she claimed on the show she didn’t want help. For her, the initial answer was: “Yes, there is no hope. I will be an addict next year.”

Thankfully, she eventually came back and agreed to go into treatment. That was in September. There have been no reports since then, so we can assume she’s changed her answer to the question and will still be in recovery next year. But meth is hard to kick. Her beauty now gone, Jael will have to make a new life for herself.

In the final analysis, each of us has to answer the question for ourselves. “Will you be an addict next year?” I pray not, but I know the answer will be yes for too many.

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