A river cutting through rock: My story of recovery and education

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Jennifer Leonard
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Speaking on the argument regarding whether addiction is a choice or a biological issue, I believe both are culprits in creating addiction. Addiction has been historically coined as a “disease of the feelings.” I believe this to be true as I look back on my childhood. I didn’t feel like other kids. I spent much of my time alone, and quite noticeably my family wasn’t like other families. I began to engage in actions that I knew were against the rules. I would wander unattended to places far from my home, often dangerous places; like the creek behind our house. I would allow other kids in my house when my dad wasn’t home, and eventually discovered his liquor cabinet. At first I would drink with other kids, but eventually I started drinking alone. This progressed to using marijuana at 13 and shortly thereafter followed cocaine. More substances were added to my laundry list, and more often.

It wasn’t until later in life that I understood why I started drinking. I drank because I wanted a break from reality; from my feelings; from myself. At first feeling high was fun. I giggled, felt carefree, and was able to exude social confidence. Eventually I met others like me who drank and used as frequently. My grades, attendance, and morals were no longer of importance; only escape. Using was no longer fun; it was more routine, a habitual activity that forsook everything of importance. I began to fight with my parents, the police, and anyone else who stood in the way of getting high. At this point, I believe chemically, psychologically, and mentally my brain had been hijacked by substances. Using was no longer a choice; it became a necessity.

Still human

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