In America we are fighting everyday with some kind of addiction. Main addictions are retail, food, porn, prescription medicine, illegal drugs and alcohol. Statistics show that 1 out of 8 Americans are suffering from some kind of addiction. More times than not that person doesn’t even realize they are suffering from an addiction, in their life it just seems normal.
I received the best blessing of being able to chat with a close friend about our addictions. This is Raquel Diehm’s story of her journey with addiction.
How did your journey with addiction start?
Raquel: It actually didn’t start out as an addiction. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was fourteen. I grew up in a very healthy household and my family believed in all natural medicine. However, even with the support of my loving family and all natural remedies, I still had an incredible difficult time holding attention in school. With great reservation, I was put on Adderall to help me in school, because nothing else was working.
At first, I hated it. It made my personality different. I didn’t feel like me. I never thought of it as a “drug”, only my focus medication. I noticed it was a “drug”, when I heard other kids talking about it in school to study. I thought, “why are you taking ADHD medication?” I thought that was super weird. I took it only for school during the week, and took off on the weekends.
After years of taking it, I only took it when it was important. As I grew up, EVERYTHING was turning into being important.
It HIT me one day when I said to myself, “I have to go to the grocery store, let me take my medication! Wait a second, I don’t need Adderall to go to the grocery store, yet I feel like I have to.”
This is when I believe it crossed the line from taking my “medication”, to a real dependency or an addiction.
Addiction never starts out as an addiction. It solves a problem at first, but then the solution starts to own you.That’s when you know you have crossed the line. It is no longer serving you, but now you are serving it.
When did you figure out you had an addiction?
Raquel: I realized I might be addicted to my ADHD medication when I accidentally left my pill bottle at home on a trip. I freaked out with anxiety. I had the driver turn around and go back home to pick it up. I knew I didn’t just need it to focus at that point, but I needed it to function.
This is a hard topic for people to become aware of within themselves, what signs of addiction did you see in yourself?
Raquel: I noticed I might have an addiction when I didn’t need the drug to just solve a problem, but I needed it for me to function. The thought of me going even a day without it was very scary. Having this thought made me realize that I was no longer the master, but the drug now had power over me. I needed it.
What made you decide to change?
Raquel: I went to the doctors office for a refill and a check up! I told the doctor, ” You know what, I would really like to get off my medication as some point!”
She shook her head and told me, “Oh no honey, you are going to be on this for the rest of your life.” And then proceeded to tell me about other drugs I could take.
That did NOT sit well with me. I decided then and there that if she wasn’t going to help me, I would someone that could. I wanted to feel like myself again and I knew that there must be a way for me to be better without this drug.
What is some advice you can give to someone who is at the changing point of their journey with addiction?
- KNOWLEDGE. Find out all the positive things you are getting in exchange for making this change in your life. Also, find out all the negative things that will happen if you continue with your addiction. Think of your family, friends and about yourself.
- DECIDE. Then, you have to make the decision that you actually WANT this.
- REPLACE. Put something in its place that you also enjoy. That way you feel like you are positively giving to yourself, instead of taking away. GIVE, do not take away.
- SUPPORT. You need people around you who know what you are going through, can guide you through your weak moments, and are living in a positive lifestyle. Sometimes we can feel like we can do it alone, especially if we were hiding our addiction. That’s never the case though, you will always need someone who is willing to support your decision and will keep you accountable. Do not underestimate the need for support. This is very powerful.
- SELF CHECK-INS. Track your progress! Do daily, weekly, or monthly check-ins with yourself! How are you feeling? How can you feel better? What makes you want to hit the continue button? Seeing how far you have come and reminding yourself the reason why you are doing this will inspire you to continue!
What did you do to redirect your journey with addiction?
Raquel: The first thing I did was I decided I did not want to live a life that was ruled by a drug. I wanted to be in control of my own life!
Second, I decided not to put any pressure on myself. I just stopped taking it one day, “just to see!” I came from a curious mindset and not a forceful one. I used this mindset everyday, and only looked at one day at a time. Little chucks made it easy to chew.
Third, I kept myself very busy on productive things! This put me in a mindset of giving to myself instead of taking away. Meditation was also a huge practice for me. I just sat & noticed my thoughts. I let my thoughts of anxiety and loss just pass, and I expanded on the ones of growth & freedom! This made the process feel GOOD!
There are things you CAN do to release from addiction and it is 100% possible! I am here to tell you there is a way out and you are not alone! You got this. You can do this.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.