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Ask an Addict: "I write this column because of my shame"

Welcome to Ask an Addict, a column penned by a Kamloops scholar with expertise in addiction issues and someone who is also an addict.
ASK AN ADDICT

Welcome to Ask an Addict, a column penned by a Kamloops scholar with expertise in addiction issues and someone who is also an addict.

The column is meant to inform and help, which is particularly important as we remain mired in an opioid crisis that continues to claim thousands of lives each year.

If you have a question you would like answered, email it to editor@kamloopsthisweek.com.

Anonymity is guaranteed.

My name is Ann.

I am an academic/scholar with eight years of post-secondary education and two advanced degrees in mental health and addictions.

In my 30-plus years of professional experience, I have conducted research, been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented my work at international drug forums. I am well respected, often promoted and consistently receive excellent performance reviews.

I am also an alcoholic and a drug-using addict.

My dad was an alcoholic. I was genetically pre-determined to become an addict, but believed it was my fault. For decades, I searched for answers, but always by myself. I embarked on graduate studies and frequently moved.

I tried new jobs, new friends, new relationships and new towns. Nothing I tried ever stopped me from using. I believed I was defective and my willpower weak.

I had no idea I was physically and biologically unwell (the World Health Organization deems addiction a disease). As a health-care professional, I knew medical ailments require assistance, but somehow did not see this applying to me. Today, I see how absurd I had been in trying to treat an illness — addiction — by myself.

It has now been more than 25 years since my last drink.

I write this column because of my shame. I almost died alone in my bathroom of fentanyl poisoning. I preferred death over discovery and facing my truth.

I have been angry at the opioid crisis plaguing us and I need to do something, no matter how small.

This column is my personal attempt. It is fashioned upon the Dear Ann Landers advice columns. Ann is not my real name, as stigma is real. One day I plan to reveal who I am, but for now I hope to humanize my illness and take stigma away.

Readers may ask all questions relating to addiction — be it gambling, sex , love, alcohol, opiates, pornography or food. If I don’t have the answer, I know someone who will as my network is extensive.

Questions asked of me include: What does it feel like to be high? Why didn’t you just stop? When and why did you start? Were you ever psychotic? What’s the worst thing you did?

Send your questions to editor@kamloopsthisweek.com. Anonymity is guaranteed.