Numerous Mental Health/Substance Abuse Issues
My life is currently a disaster. I understand other people have it worse. Physically, I am blessed. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, transportation, a supportive family, an amazing church, and a helpful therapist (who is both a mental health counselor as well as a drug and alcohol counselor) who truly seems to care. During a very recent hospitalization, I also began utilizing a journal to get my thoughts out in a private manner. I have an incredible support system I rarely utilize. I am struggling with a number of issues. I suck at reaching out before making terrible decisions such as self harm and drug use. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict who attends AA meetings regularly but have yet to pick up my 24-hour chip. I feel as if I’m not ready to surrender and work a program. I am, however, terrified of the consequences of alcoholism/drug use. Another fellowship I was previously a member of states these consequences at the start of every meeting: jails, institutions, and death. I lost one of my best friends in March to addiction. I have also seen many others lose their lives. While heroin is not my DOC, I feel as though any substance I choose to use will inevitably lead to some kind of consequence. I am in such a conundrum. That is the only word I can think of to describe this mess known as my life. Following the worst inpatient experience of my life, I am also struggling with the emotional pain of being on a very small amount of numerous medications. I am on the starting doses of these meds which have not nearly reached a therapeutic level. I feel as though I am mentally and emotionally unstable, as is proven by my recent words and actions towards others. This has caused others pull away, possibly permanently. I owe amends I’m not ready to give. As a member of AA, I believe in the ninth step. That is a step I struggled with a lot, though. There were a lot of repeated amends by mouth, but no changed behavior.
It was unintentional lip service. I was and still am unsure of how to change my behavior. My next issue has to do with the job I just lost on Monday and the rest of the issues I haven’t discussed that were a result of this volcano that has just erupted. A few weeks ago, I put my two weeks notice in at a job I had worked at for three weeks shy of a year. I was burned out on working with the general public, so going back is not an option. I had just been offered a contracted cleaning job. So for my last two weeks of work at my old job, I worked both jobs. This was not a good decision. I was simultaneously feeling suicidal due to just being put on Latuda. I could not get ahold of my psychiatrist, so after just two weeks of working a brand new job, i found it necessary to go inpatient before I made a fatal decision. Following being inpatient, they told me at my new job that while I had been out of work for two weeks, they had to fill my position. I burned bridges, lost my sponsor as a result of using the day they let me go, and cut myself for the first time in two years. I feel too unstable to try to obtain and maintain employment at this time. I will not be able to pass a drug test at the moment. Not having a job leaves me with a ton of time on my hands. I am torn between applying for SSI and SSD and looking for a new job (in a few weeks.) This leaves me with no income. I am blessed to live with a parent who provides for me. I don’t really understand the point of sharing all of this. I am the one who needs to make some changes and decisions.
A. The fact that you have a supportive parent who allows you to live in their home, despite your continued drug use and problematic decision-making, might actually be doing you a disservice. It essentially means that they are giving you a pass when you make mistakes. In other words, it’s a classic case of enabling. Tough love is the antidote to enabling.
They may be serving as a buffer and preventing you from having to face the full range of consequences for your behavior. For example, if you were living paycheck to paycheck, as many people do, I highly doubt you would have quit your job simply because you were “burned out” from working with the public. Many people would quit their jobs if given the option, but they simply can’t do it because quitting is a luxury that they cannot afford. You can afford that luxury.
In reality, you have a large number of luxuries (i.e., roof over your head, food, transportation, etc.) that you acknowledge but may fail to fully appreciate.
I am not suggesting that it would be better for you not to have the aforementioned life benefits but they may be preventing you from doing what is necessary to fix your life. In other words, you haven’t faced serious life-altering consequences yet.
You said that you “suck at reaching out before making terrible decisions such as self-harm and drug use.” Could it be because you don’t want to reach out during those times because you’d rather indulge in those particular behaviors? You could have reached out but you decided not to do so.
It’s important to recognize that, in those instances, you were making a choice. You could have easily made the alternative decision but you chose not to do the right thing. It was not because you didn’t know what the right choice was; you knew but chose not to do the right thing. You made a choice. We all have choices in life and you, at the moments you have described, were choosing. Sometimes you have to do things you do not want to do, even if they are unpleasant and not preferable. That is part of life.
Perhaps, the heart of the problem is that you are not ready to change. You may not be ready to give up drug use. Many people enjoy using drugs. They like to party. Using drugs feels good and they have fun when they are high. Being high means that you don’t have to think about life problems. Drug use is an escape.
In many respects, it’s easier to use drugs than it is to deal with life. Life problems are difficult and often painful. Drugs numb the pain and allow one to put off dealing with the realities of life, for another hour or day. It is easier to use drugs and escape life but it is also immensely destructive. It is easier to simply get high when you feel like it but typically the easier choice is the wrong choice.
In AA, certainly you’ve heard discussion of the concept of hitting “rock bottom.” Perhaps you have not hit “rock bottom.” In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to hit “rock bottom” in order to change. It’s important that you don’t take for granted the many “luxuries” that you currently have in your life. If you do and continue to indulge your urges, then you may be forced to “learn the hard way,” i.e. to hit rock bottom, in order to realize important life lessons. You don’t want to have to “learn the hard way” if you can avoid it. Many drug users do not survive making the wrong choice.
Realize that you already have all of the elements you need for success in your life right now. Utilize them, don’t take them for granted and hopefully this will save you from having to “learn the hard way,” which, as you’re reminded at the beginning of every AA meeting, involves death, jail or institutions.
You might try reading the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. He discusses many of the issues that you have described. Thank you for your question. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Randle, K. (2017). Numerous Mental Health/Substance Abuse Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/12/15/numerous-mental-healthsubstance-abuse-issues/