My Addiction Was Fueled by Arrogance & Selfishness
We are all clearly individuals, but as human beings, we like to tie certain individuals together that share similar characteristics and behaviors. The one in my life that has been particularly common is the idea that because I was a heroin addict, I must have suffered from a wide array of mental and emotional issues and instability. I must have used heroin and meth to the point of death because I was abused as a child. More common still maybe it was because I had a chemical imbalance that caused me to be helplessly depressed and anxious, which forced me to self-medicate. Now, please hear me loud and clear when I say I am well aware that abuse, neglect, trauma, and mental illness can all lead to addiction. All I am saying is that this is not always the case, and assuming it is true for all because it is true for many can be detrimental to the recovery of someone battling addiction.
So for me, I can confidently say that I had a great upbringing, not perfect but pretty damn good none the less. I was heavily involved with church, grew up in a loving home, did well in school, and excelled in athletics. Life was good. No major childhood trauma and no wondering where I would sleep or where my next meal would come from. I was not depressed, I was not anxious, I didn’t struggle socially or academically. Why then, being so blessed and being relatively stable, did heroin become a daily routine and the belief that death was better than sobriety take such a stronghold over me? After seven years of sobriety and reflection, I have found one very simple explanation. I was arrogant and I was entitled.
Now, this was not your normal sense of entitlement shared by most American youth, oh no. I didn’t want to have fun and feel good—I felt I deserved to have fun and feel good. I was not on this earth to serve others and help my fellow man I was on this earth to have my desires served and all of my wants and needs met. So when marijuana was offered to me for the first time my arrogance took control. “I’m not an addict,” I told myself “I’ll never have a problem.” I lied to myself over and over again. That first hit nothing happened, by the tenth, however, I was in love. Here is something that must have been put on this planet just for me, to make me feel good, and I deserve to always feel this good. Next came my selfishness “this drug is for me and something I must have at all times” arrogance, “I’m not addicted, I have simply found what I need.” My life continued like this for the next year. All the while, I still did well enough in school and sports for no one to notice. This caused my arrogance to grow as the drugs fueled my selfishness.
Sister: “Want to come to your niece’s birthday party”
Me: “I’m sorry I’m not feeling very well and need to stay at home and rest.”
Selfish thoughts: “I have three grams of pot at home and five Percocet I can’t go to a little kid’s party.”
My life continued like this for several more years. Every time a new drug was offered, my arrogance told me I could take it and that I would be fine “ I'm not an addict,” I reminded myself. All the while, my selfishness was confirming that I didn’t want this drug, this high, this feeling. I deserved it. Eventually, heroin came into the mix, and one might think I had an internal battle about whether or not to put a needle in my arm that first time. Truth is, I didn’t think twice. Remember, I had been heading down this path for over three years now my arrogance and selfishness fueling my decisions every step of the way. The late great C.S Lewis put it best when he said: “The safest road to hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” This is how I came to putting a needle in my arm it was simply the natural next step on my slow and very gradual downward spiral.
For those of you who have never tried drugs, here is an example I have told families who have a loved one struggling with addiction. This is the example I bring up when they beat themselves up for not noticing the signs and symptoms sooner. A massive shift in one’s weight, whether it be weight gain or weight loss, will seldom be noticed right away by the people you see every day. But when your cousins you haven’t seen in over eight months come into town, they are astonished at the changes you have made. This was my addiction. The most oblivious person to all of my changes in attitude, health, appearance, and sense of morality was me.
So the answer is still no, anxiety and depression did not cause my addiction. Heroin, methamphetamine, and a long laundry list of other drugs caused my anxiety, my depression and my utter disregard for what a gift life truly is.
Arrogance and selfishness fueled my addiction. Humility and honesty saved me. Being seven years sober, I am still blown away at how arrogant and selfish I was, and I am humbled and brought to my knees with gratitude at the second chance I have been given at life. I am not who I was, nor will I ever be that young man again. I accept my weakness and am proud of my strengths. I have accepted that drugs and alcohol, no matter how well I am doing in life, can never be a part of my life and am humble enough to know that I still have a lot to learn.