All too often I'll have someone ask me, "hey Carolyn, what's the difference between being clean and being sober?". A lot, actually. In my dictionary, clean is just abstaining, while sober is a way of life. Let's see, I've been sober in the broad sense since Thursday the 31st of January, 2008, but it's only been in the last two years or so that I have really been sober. All throughout my years of using drugs, I've had my bouts of being clean but I was never sober until I found a new way to live. That way for me is immersing myself in the 12-step program. I live it, breathe it, eat it...WORK it. You know what they say, "It ONLY works if YOU work it". Being sober, for me is always being aware; keeping my side of the street clean and getting ahold of myself when I start to notice that those old personality traits are rearing their heads: lying, manipulating, scheming, not living in the here and now, ad infinitum. It sucks to always be reminded that you are an addict and will be one for the rest of your life. No, there is no cure for this disease. All I have is today. Clean is just going through the motions. Sure, I've been clean lots of times but I never took care of what the real problem was. What it was that I was numbing in the first place. I thought I just liked the feeling of getting high when in fact, it was just a symptom of what was really going on. I was in pain. Emotionally. But, I digress.....
Earlier today while doing some writing I had the television on, and "Dr. Phil" was talking about a young woman named Alexandra who was battling a severe prescription pill problem. Alexandra was me not that long ago: in denial, defensive, "in pain'. She is on a fast track to destructionville as far as my experience can gauge. Alexandra lives in Florida where the notorious "pill mills" are killing people in record numbers. I've watched many a documentary on this very thing: anyone can go in, pay cash and leave with whatever they want. Hell, I've done it many times myself. In Mexico, that is.
Dr. Phil had two professionals look at Alexandra's back injury and both came to the conclusion that the injury she had did not warrant the startling amount of meds she was abusing. She was taking OxyContin, OxyCodone, Soma, and Valium. Anyone remember Heath Ledger? She said she needed them because she was in pain. When she didn't have them, she couldn't function. She said she was dependent, NOT addicted. What's the difference? A lot, actually.
The body can not tell the difference between addiction and dependency. It just wants what it wants. It doesn't care if you get them from the pharmacy or from a guy named "Chico" who lives in a seedy part of town. However, addiction lives in the head while dependence lives in the body. In my experience, addiction led me down avenues I NEVER imagined I'd go down. Took me to places many of you reading this only saw in movies. It was a driving force in my life for many many years. It told me to lie, steal, cheat, manipulate, scam, scheme, etc. just so I could get what I needed to not feel the pain of withdrawal. See, anytime you abuse any type of medication it will turn on you. Even over the counter meds. I know many people who have rebound headaches from taking Ibuprofen on a daily basis. You need to allow your body a chance to let its natural painkilling endorphins to kick in. When we abuse painkillers, opiate or OTC the Central Nervous System becomes suppressed. Hence, Pain KILLER. Take that away and you get the reverse: withdrawal and or pain. Why? Because your CNS is sparking back to life and while the body is waking up, you start to feel the pain in places you didn't know were hurting.
But Alexandra wasn't getting this. Even though she lived in a pay by the week apartment (like I did for awhile), lost all three of her kids, was panhandling for money...she didn't have a problem. Her life wasn't "crappy" because of the pills, she said. Oh, Alexandra..De Nile is not just a river in Egypt, honey. She really touched my heart and I had to say something abut this because I know so many people who are dealing with this very thing.
Here, I can explain in better "in Person"