Is addiction a fate worse than unremitting, agonizing pain? To many people, the answer is absolutely not—particularly if the sufferer is close to death. But that’s not how our policymakers—and even many people affected by addiction—seem to view the issue.
While use of prescription opioids for cancer and other end-of-life pain is increasingly accepted, if you are going to suffer in agony for years, rather than months, mercy is harder to find. Indeed, it seems a given by the media that because addicts sometimes fake pain to get drugs, doctors should treat all patients as likely liars—and if a physician is conned by an addict, the doctor has only herself to blame.
I came as close to using drugs last night as I have in over 20 years. My experience — totally unexpected — draws a line under the reasons that we have to keep our heads in the right place, have supports available, and the several other things involved in maintaining our sobriety.
It’s easy for alcoholics and other addicts to find excuses to use. We come from a society where we take pills or other medication for every little thing — one that spends billions of dollars telling us that it is not OK to feel not OK. Those are words that resonate subconsciously with all addicts. We not only think that it’s not OK to feel less than wonderful, but that even when we feel good we need to try to feel better. There’s a saying to the effect that “I drank because the dog ran away, then I drank because it came back.” Most people in recovery can relate to that.