July 3, 2019
July 4, 2010 was the least freeing Independence Day I have ever experienced. Like most days, I focused on one thing: how to avoid the withdrawal sickness I was feeling. I was addicted to heroin and cocaine, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to stop. I watched the fireworks on TV, listened to the marching bands playing patriotic songs while feeling handcuffed to my addiction. I lived in a country that afforded me the freedom to thrive, but was absolutely trapped in a cycle of addiction. I reflected on the many Independence Days of the recent past – while they were often in different geographic locations, they all had the same dismal theme.
Thankfully, that was the last Independence Day I spent trapped; 14 days later I knew I couldn’t live that way anymore. I had experienced homelessness, lost my nursing license, and encountered traumatic situations, but the absolute vacancy and feelings that I felt inside were what led me to change. Instead of fearing death as a result of my drug and alcohol use, I feared living this way forever. The early days were tough, as they are for most recovering individuals, but as I stayed committed I started to experience what true freedom was. I have been able to CHOOSE my path. Sobriety allowed me to make decisions about friendships, living situations, education and more.
This story is not unique; millions of Americans with addictive issues will feel their own loss of independence this year as we celebrate freedom. Active substance use disorders limit all aspects of one’s life and also makes subconscious choices for individuals: where they go, their routine, jobs they hold or lose, the company they keep. It is powerful, limiting, and defeating.
Many individuals begin using alcohol and drugs to experience freedom from pain, freedom from reality, freedom from sadness and more. However, over time, what had been their source of liberation now becomes the ball and chain that controls their lives. When treating clients with the In Home Addiction Treatment model, we are able to take an active role in supporting their transformations towards living an independent life. This process takes place in their homes, which may have felt it was closing in on them in many ways. However, in sobriety,we are able to help these individuals to slowly gain confidence in their ability to navigate their friends, family and community–with the goal to connect with their true selves as they enjoy freedom from addiction.
By Sarah Allen Benton, LMHC, LPC and Sara Kaiser, MS Ed, LPN