Addiction, Recovery, and Recovering from Recovery

I had an opiate habit for many years, but I have been addiction free for near as long.

I started drinking and using pills of various sorts when I was eleven years old, and began injecting drugs four years later.

Over the following fifteen years I roller coasted through good, and increasingly more frequently, horrific times.

My thirtieth year saw me homeless, beaten up and unconscious, and being hospital stretchered into a detox unit in Dartford, Kent.

After my detox I spent seven months in a women’s only treatment facility; then another five months in a secondary unit. I then spent another year and a half living in what is known as a ‘dry house’.

Thus far it is a relatively normal, contextually speaking, tale of addiction albeit a privileged one as the laws of the land at that time meant that there were government funded treatment centres and related recovery facilities available, to coax me into a semblance of mainstream normal living.

Eventually I achieved the laurels of a flat and a job, and could be considered to be a clean and sober, contributing member of society.

Perhaps I was, as I knew how to perform according a regime I had been indoctrinated to work within. I was institutionalised and completely fear ridden about taking risks and pushing beyond the parameters of the rules that had been laid down for me, about how a non addicted member of society must operate.

My first six months in my own home, I lived in one room as I couldn’t cope with the concept of having a living room and a bedroom; let alone a key and freedom of movement.

I drew up lists of how each day should be run, worked hard, did courses, went to N.A meetings and tried to gently push my boundaries outwards.

I also had long depressions and anxiety attacks and stayed in situations which were abusive because I was frightened of taking risks and spiralling back to the horror of my years as a homeless street addict.

I had attended daily one to one and group counselling sessions and meetings for nearly three years that constantly reiterated I should not mix with certain people, do certain things or live in a certain way; if I did, those terrible things (and worse) would happen to me again.

I realise that many of my drug using peers died, and perhaps my addiction was such that I did need such intense conditioning and indoctrination. God knows I was lucky that I was able to receive such comprehensive help; but now seventeen years on (I have been clean almost the same amount of time as I was an active addict) I feel as if I am recovering from another, albeit more subtle form of entrapment, recovery.

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About charlottejane2002

Author of 'P is for Prostitution', 'The Bloody Sacrifice' and co-editor of 'A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead' which are all published by Mandrake of Oxford. Italian publisher Roberto Migliussi has recently released 'The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling', a book of Charlotte's collected essays printed alongside images of his own art work. Charlotte is also an artist who creates spiritually directed art works from road kill and found objects. She has had her written work printed in anthologies and various magazines and on line publications and has given presentations at many events and institutions including Edinburgh University and Brooklyn's 'Museum of Morbid Anatomy'. Her art work has been exhibited widely including at London's Chelsea Gallery and The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, and is soon to be shown in New York.
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