A mother describes her prescription addiction and recovery with Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
I thought an addict was a person who was using hard drugs, someone who was on the streets or in jail. My pattern was different—I got my drugs from a doctor or friends. I knew something was wrong yet I tried to do right—at work, in my marriage, and in raising my children. I really tried hard. I would be doing well and then I’d fail. It went on like this and each time it seemed like forever; it seemed like nothing would ever change. I wanted to be a good mother. I wanted to be a good wife. I wanted to be involved in society yet never felt a part of it.
I went through years of telling my children “I’m sorry but this time it will be different.” I went from one doctor to another asking for help. I went for counseling feeling everything will be all right now, but the inside was still saying, “What is wrong?” I was changing jobs, changing doctors, changing drugs, trying different books, religions, and hair colors. I moved from one area to another, changed friends, and moved furniture. I went on vacations and also remained hidden in my home—so many things through the years—constantly feeling, I’m wrong, I’m different, I’m a failure.
When I had my first child I liked it when they knocked me out; I liked the feeling of the drugs they gave me. It was a feeling that whatever is going on around me, I don’t know and I don’t care, really. Through the years the tranquilizers gave me the feeling that nothing is really that important. Toward the end, things became so mixed up I was not sure what was and what was not important. I was shaking inside and out. Drugs would not help.
I was still trying, but very little. I had quit work and was trying to go back but I couldn’t. I would be on the couch afraid of everything. I was 103 pounds and had sores on my lips and in my nose. I had diabetes and shook so that I had a hard time putting a spoon to my mouth. I felt I was out to kill myself and people around me were out to hurt me. Physically and mentally I had a breakdown. I had just become a grandmother and I could not even communicate with a small child. I was almost a vegetable. I wanted to be a part of living but did not know how. Part of me said I’d be better off dead and part of me said there has to be a better way of living.
When I started on the program of NA, there were a lot of people who suggested just everyday things for me to do, like eating, taking a bath, getting dressed, going for a walk, going to meetings. They told me, “Don’t be afraid, we have all gone through this.” I went to a lot of meetings through the years. One thing has stuck with me, one thing they said from the beginning, “Betty, you can stop running and you can be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.”
Since being on the program I have listened and watched many people and have seen them go through many ups and downs. I have used the teachings I felt were best for me. My work area has had to change and I have been going to school. I have had to relearn all the way back to the grammar school level. It has been slow for me but very rewarding.
I also decided that I need to know me better before I can have a meaningful relationship with a man. I am learning to communicate with my daughters. I am trying many things which I wanted to do for years. I am able to remember many things that I had pushed out of my mind. I have found that Betty is not that big pile of nothing but is someone and something that I never really stopped to look at or listen to. April 1 will be my fifth NA birthday. How’s that for April Fool’s Day!
See Narcotics Anonymous website