In the latest of our Two Americas series, we take a look at addiction and examine misconceptions.
“It's definitely been difficult, but very rewarding,” said Drew Nelson, a recovering addict.
Nelson has been clean for two years; he was addicted to methamphetamine and heroin for 20 years. He says after trying to get clean several times, awareness is what finally got him to the other side.
“Understanding my ability to kind of control—not control my environment—but manifest my own reality, my decisions, my actions, my intentions, my attitude, and my perspective makes a huge difference on what my life is,” said Nelson.
A misconception from those on the outside looking in: addicts chose to live the way they do. But Nelson says, he didn’t.
“I didn’t choose that, you know? I think that’s part of the problem, people don’t understand, no one as a little kid says, ‘Oh, you know what? I want to grow up and be a junky.’ No one wants to do that. It’s not like they’re excited about it, they’re stuck,” said Nelson.
Like many addicts, Nelson had two other sustained periods of time where he was clean but he says, he never felt like he was ready to be done. But now, he feels like he is.
“It is definitely an ongoing thing. For me I know I always have to remain aware of my old behavioral patterns and how they could easily come back into play. It’s going to be hard to kind of change those things and it’s going to be a process,” said Nelson.
On the other side, Nelson says recovery has given him freedom, financial stability, and he’s connected with friends and family.
“I have a two-year-old daughter who’s just amazing. I’m able to enjoy her and spend time with her and be the father that she needs, whereas if I were still in my addiction that wouldn’t happen,” said Nelson.
Everything’s changed for the better. Though he says there are still times of struggle, now he uses the support system around him and resources, such as CODAC. The center offers help with behavior disorders, substance use and trauma.
“I think for a long time I was too prideful. Too prideful to ask for help or to accept it. So humility has been a big part of this path for me,” said Nelson. Also a part of his path: changing the way society views and handles opioid addiction.
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