Ask an Addict is a column penned by Helena Paivinen, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity is guaranteed.
A noose around my neck, pills beside my bed or sitting in my Jeep with garage doors closed airtight.
These are the scenarios I play through my head, usually after using. Benzodiazepines and alcohol were the worst. I did things I could not remember until someone said something to me. There was horrible shame, guilt and despair. I hated me and absolutely wanted to die.
The only reason I didn’t act was family. I couldn’t leave them with such pain. Once, after a terrible relapse, a medical professional advised family to cut all ties with me. Thankfully, my mother and older brother didn’t listen. Their connection kept me alive.
A friend of mine who is in recovery lived with her son. On Halloween, she decided to see how he was doing ,so she walked down the stairs. He was dead from an overdose.
I don’t know the whole story and I cannot imagine the pain.
This is the second mother I know who lost her son to overdose in October. Imagine losing your child. Imagine not knowing they were even using (like my parents never did). Imagine walking down the stairs and finding your daughter, sister, brother or son dead.
Suicide, accidents and overdoses — lethal ways of living when one uses these days.
A friend of mine is transgender and I interviewed her for a story. She was an international recognized painter while living as a man — as a woman, not so much. I didn’t know she was using and learned only after she died by suicide, possibly in an alcohol-related blackout state.
People are dying every day, but I still hang onto hope. For me, it comes in the form of tolerance and love, actions I once did not know.
I am grateful for people like you who support people like me. It’s hard to live in my skin. I am an addict.
I am painting a picture, but it isn’t done. It was perfect a few hours ago, but is now totally ruined. I kept adding more and more paint — I just couldn’t stop — and more is better,until it is not.
I laugh because I find myself thinking that tomorrow will be better. I believe if I just add something more — more colour, more paint, more effort, more strokes — it will make my painting great. But as with addiction, adding more instead only ruins it.
Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — like hitting my thumb with a hammer and expecting no pain.
I am insane. My brain chemistry not there. It will take time to resolve but with constant work, daily practice and people’s love, I will get there.
Thank you for connections and for being there. Your actions and words matter. Truly they do.