Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired
It is a common statement within the recovery community. The supposed “point of surrender”, where an addict’s life has reached such great levels of unmanageability that continuing to live in active addiction was no longer effective or possible. Many find that they reach this point when they have reached the threshold tolerance of pain, discomfort, and / or cognitive dissonance. This can happen in one or more of these five areas: Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social. Every addict’s threshold for tolerating the damage their addiction is doing to their faculties is different, but the contributing factors themselves are often quite similar.
When an addict has reached their threshold tolerance of unmanageability within the physical realm, they are quite literally sick and tired of being sick and tired. Common culprits when dealing with the physical aspects of addiction are alcohol and methamphetamine, two very toxic and damaging drugs when used chronically. Despite being culturally accepted across the world, alcohol is still one of the most physically damaging drugs to the human body, shutting down liver function, causing damage to the stomach lining, and greatly increasing the risk of developing cancer later in life. Many classic alcoholics find their turning point when their doctor tells them that they will be dead very soon if they continue to drink. Methamphetamine is another substance that is highly toxic, and chronic abuse can bring about severe health issues, even with short-term use. Many chronic meth addicts will have infected sores from compulsive picking, sometimes even feeling bugs underneath their skin as a side-effect from meth abuse. Physical unmanageability is often the most obvious type, both to the addict themselves and others around them. Health issues that arise from drug abuse should not be taken likely, and are always a good indicator that it is time for a change.
Mental unmanageability deals directly with cognitive processing and brain functionality. There are many drugs that can be damaging to these areas. Chronic alcoholics and abusers of benzodiazepines often find themselves struggling with both short and long-term memory retention. Severe cases of alcoholism often accompany what is colloquially known as “wet brain”, a condition of permanent brain damage from alcohol. The official name for this condition is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, and is brought about by a prolonged deprivation of B vitamins to the brain. Along with memory loss, those with wet brain will also experience lack of muscle coordination, dulled senses, poor vision and hallucinations. Sometimes these symptoms are reversible or treatable, but in extreme cases, they can only be mitigated. Recent studies have found that chronic cocaine abuse actually causes brain cells to cannibalize themselves, leading to a lack of cognitive function and generalized mental impairment. MDMA can throw neurotransmitters into chaos, greatly increasing the user’s risk of seizure; and meth can greatly impair the brain’s microglia, the cells that are responsible for defending the brain against infections. Chronic abuse of most drugs can cause damage to mental health over time, but the risk of a potentially life-threatening event such as a stroke or aneurysm increase with prolonged use.
Emotional unmanageability can be incredibly damaging to the subsequent recovery process if left untreated. Almost all drugs can lead to the occurrence or exacerbation of mood and behavioral disorders. It is not uncommon for those in the depths of a meth or cocaine binge to start having paranoid thoughts outside of the realm of reality. Opiate addicts often find themselves experiencing crippling and chronic depression when they are unable to get high. Drugs artificially alter the brain’s pleasure and reward centers of the brain, which often leaves them in a chaotic state of ups and downs. This is why many drug addicts are initially diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but often will find their bipolar tendencies start to disappear once they have a significant amount of clean time. These emotional imbalances can quickly and quietly set the stage for suicide, which is an unfortunate and common occurrence with addicts.
Spiritual unmanageability manifests itself as a disease of the soul. Many addicts who turn to crime, sex work or other unsavory acts in order to feed their addiction will start feeling themselves drifting further and further away from any previously instilled morals and values that may have formerly defined them as a person. This rift is characterized by an addict’s self-imposed alienation from society. Any drug can cause this, and while it is one of the least tangible types of unmanageability, it can be very heavy and damaging to an addict who may no longer see any point in pursuing sobriety.
Social unmanageability is often when interventions are orchestrated. Those who can no longer drink socially, or have been unable to be present in social situations without their drug of choice can become a growing cause for concern for those close to them. Despite the suggestions and requests of their friends and family that they take steps toward recovering from their drug abuse, many will further isolate by pushing friends and family away. Many stimulant drugs such as amphetamines or cocaine can foster psychotic and paranoid thoughts, which further isolate and antagonize those close to them in their perspective. Some can be so confused from their constant drug use that they fail to see how their self-destructive tendencies are hurting those close to them as well.
Being sick and tired of being sick and tired can mean a combination of different things, but the end result is the same. Those who previously pursued substances to medicate themselves have reached a point in their addiction where continuing down the same path is no longer an option. While these moments are often punctuated with terror and hopelessness, those in recovery will often look back on those memories with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, because they can truly be seen as a moment of clarity.