Changing Our Conversation And Mindset Around Addiction

Changing Our Conversation And Mindset Around Addiction

That is one of the greatest fears of those in recovery - "a paralytic mixture of embarrassment and fear." The word "Again?" when you admit that you messed up another time feels like the end of the world.


On February 8, 2014, Emmett Rensin published a piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books titled "The End of Quitting" following the overdose and death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Six days prior to the publishing of the article, Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment with a needle in his arm. A former heroin addict, Hoffman had been in a rehabilitation facility less than a year earlier, and died, like many former addicts, relapsing.

The article opens up with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower about his cigarette smoking: "I can't tell you if I'll start back up...But I'll tell you this: I sure as hell ain't quitting again."

It's a common and well-known fact, to anyone who's ever been addicted to anything, that quitting a habit is exponentially more difficult than starting it. After Hoffman passed, "embarrassment seem[ed] to be a major theme. Shame. It's a shame he had to go this way." But Rensin makes sure to follow up this point with a fundamental point: "we should remember that nobody would be more ashamed than Hoffman to see his own body, cold on a bathroom floor."

Rensin made sure, in this article, to note that this article wasn't an obituary about Hoffman's death - but rather a comment on the reaction and national conversation that happened, "about this old story we tell whenever someone dies this way." Himself a former heroin addict, all he can say is "I don't know why Phillip Seymour Hoffman was an addict. I don't know what demons might be to blame, but...I do know that the demons hardly matter."

As to why people start up opioids and heroin, Rensin says that it's not something that's very dramatic for most people, "it's just something to's just the mundane." He follows up this point to comment why people keep doing it after the first time: "Usually, it's just that heroin is the best you'll ever feel, and nobody feels that way once...You use. Then it becomes part of who you are." This is a major reason why the majority of heroin addicts relapse within the first six months of treatment, and most people in Twelve Step programs drop out during the first year. "Sure, meetings help. So does therapy. But those things cannot shake the memory, not really."

For Emmett Rensin himself, he admits vulnerability in still having a moment every season where a part of him just wants to get high, despite being clean for seven years. And he can't particularly put a label or term to what that feeling is: "There aren't words for the stubborn fits of that desire. Compulsion doesn't quite capture it. Addict does, but only in an obvious, unsatisfying way."

Following Hoffman's death, many well-intentioned people, who were never addicts in their lives, expressed a sentiment that we needed to "make sense of what happened [and focus on] what we should 'learn' from this." To Rensin, these well-intentioned outcries were far more frustrating than harsh ones. There is a whole brilliantly written paragraph detailing how ill-fated suggestions warning people not to take heroin because "it's bad for you" and "people will be sad" are.

"As if the thing that stands between an addict and sobriety is the intellectual revelation of the consequences, as if heroin users are operating under the misapprehension that it's good for them...What do these friends imagine? That somebody was about to do heroin for the first time, but a quick check of their Facebook feed prevented it?"

Although he doesn't want to invalidate the feelings of these people, Rensin claims that this mindset "contribute[s] to the very culture that kills men like Phillip Seymour Hoffman,' and only adds to the shame the addicts and former addicts feel. He finds the adage that "addiction is a disease" to be insufficient - what is more accurate is that "addiction is a fundamental trait of personality...Think of it as a nasty temper: you can learn to control the rage, but sometimes you can't help seeing red."

It's important to note that people in the middle of heroin addictions rarely overdose. But those that relapse, however, do. And people who relapse, like Hoffman, know the consequences, know it's not worth it, know that you're supposed to recover one day at a time. Rensin sees this culture negatively, in that it "drives so many - even those who sought help in the past - to die in the shadows. It's just too embarrassing to admit you did it anyway. Again."

Rensin drives the point home that all of us, no matter how well-intentioned, have limits to our empathy. Empathy always has a price, one we're not always willing to pay all the way. Although we love stories of recovery and addiction, "there's a limit to the repetition we'll allow. How many do-overs is too many do-overs?...Is it five? Ten? Twelve? When does that moment come when even those who know better write off a former friend as a screw-up, consigned to a bed of their own making?"

That is one of the greatest fears of those in recovery - "a paralytic mixture of embarrassment and fear." The word "Again?" when you admit that you messed up another time feels like the end of the world. Rensin, himself, five years clean, resorted to snorting painkillers one that fall because he felt it was the "only thing preventing a full relapse." And he, just a regular person, can't imagine what it would have been like to be someone like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "who knows full well that another stint in rehab would curry a whole world asking why he doesn't know better by now."

Who knows whether things will be different in the future, whether our cure or panacea for addiction is truly coming, whether soon "overcoming heroin will be as simple as beating back strep.". But the main point Rensin wants us to learn is that our national conversation is not helping. Most of us reading this are the loved ones, the spectators, the people whose instincts are to ask "Again?" when people relapse. If we really believed that "addiction is a disease," and wanted to live and stay true to those words, we would follow these closing remarks from Rensin:

"Until then, it's little different from cancer, and you wouldn't tell friends locked in the grip of stage-four death to remember that 'it isn't worth it.' Remission doesn't work like that."

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I Ghosted My Old Self For 5 Months In An Effort To Reevaluate My Life

My life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.


BREAKING (not fake) NEWS: It's true, you have to hit your lowest before hitting your highest.

I want to share my lowest with you, and I'm almost ashamed to say it had nothing to do with the loss of both of my parents. I like to think I handled that like a warrior.

Turns out I didn't, and the hurt I've been burying from that hit me all at once, the same moment my life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

My life flipped upside down overnight back in August. I had my heart broken shattered, lost two very important friendships that I thought were with me until the end, lost my 9-5 job, my health took a hit stronger than a boulder, and I was absolutely lost. For the first time, ever, I let go of the reigns on my own life. I had no idea how to handle myself, how to make anyone around me happy, how to get out of bed or how to even begin the process of trying to process what the f*ck just happened. I was terrified.

Coming from the girl who never encountered a dilemma she couldn't fix instantaneously, on her own, with no emotional burden. I was checked out from making my life better. So I didn't try. I didn't even think about thinking about trying.

The only relatively understandable way I could think to deal with anything was to not deal with anything. And that's exactly what I did. And it was f*cking amazing.

I went into hiding for a week, then went on a week getaway with my family, regained that feeling of being loved unconditionally, and realized that's all I need. They are all I need. Friends? Nah. Family. Only. Always.

On that vacation, I got a call from the school district that they wanted me in for an interview the day I come home. It was for a position that entailed every single class, combined, that I took in my college career. It was a career that I had just gotten my degree for three months before.

I came home and saw my doctor and got a health plan in order. I was immediately thrown into the month-long hiring process for work. I made it a point to make sunset every single night, alone, to make sure I was mentally caught up and in-check at the same exact speed that my life was turning. I was not about to lose my control again. Not ever.

Since August, I have spent more time with family than ever. I've read over 10 new books, I've discovered so much new music, I went on some of my best, the worst and funniest first dates, I made true, loyal friends that cause me zero stress while completely drowning me in overwhelming amounts of love and support, I got back into yoga, and I started that job and damn near fell more in love with it than I ever was for the guy I lost over the summer.

But most importantly, I changed my mindset. I promised myself to not say a single sentence that has a negative tone to it. I promised myself to think three times before engaging in any type of personal conversation. I promised myself to wake up in a good mood every damn day because I'm alive and that is the only factor I should need to be happy.

Take it from a girl who knew her words were weapons and used them frequently before deciding to turn every aspect of her life into positivity — even in the midst of losing one of my closest family members. I have been told multiple times, by people so dear to me that I'm "glowing." You know what I said back? F*ck yes I am, and I deserve to.

I am so happy with myself and it has nothing to do with the things around me. It's so much deeper than that, and I'm beaming with pride. Of myself. For myself.

I want to leave you with these thoughts that those people who have hurt me, left me, and loved me through these last couple of months have taught me

Growth is sometimes a lonely process.
Some things go too deep to ever be forgotten.
You need to give yourself the permission to be happy right now.
You outgrow people you thought you couldn't live without, and you're not the one to blame for that. You're growing.
Sometimes it takes your break down to reach your breakthrough.

Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

My god, it's so f*cking good.

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10 Struggles Of Having A Best Friend Of The Opposite Gender

If you've got a best friend of the opposite gender, then welcome to the best place to reminisce over these hardships your relationship has endured.


I have many friendships. But one of the ones I cherish the most is my friendship with my guy best friend. There isn't much to our friendship, just the occasional name-calling and our mutual love for the McDonald's drive-thru, but that's what makes it so special: the simplicity of it all.

If you're like me, a girl with a guy best friend, then you know the constant struggles that arise with keeping these friendships. Honestly, it almost isn't worth the hassle - just kidding, sort of. Here I am today to address all of these issues, letting you know that you aren't alone, there are others out there just like you who have to explain to the waiter that he's gonna need to split that check because we are NOT together.

1. Everyone thinks you are dating

just friends

This is the most prominent issue for all male/female friendships, so let's just cut to the chase: we aren't.

2. Your significant others get very jealous


Every friendship has gone through this - whether it is a platonic male/female friendship or a friendship between those of the same gender. Simply put, being in a situation where your friend's significant other doesn't like or trust you, sucks. It happens, and usually, in the end, one relationship gets the split.

3. They don't understand girl code

harry potter

My guy best friend will never know how astounding it was when Jessica got stingy about who could use her makeup or why it isn't okay for Madison to talk to Claire's ex.

4. We don't eat the same amounts of food


I can't hang out with you for more than two days at a time, because a when a guy eats five meals a day (two of those meals being McDonald's) he loses 3 pounds and when I do it I go up a dress size.

5. Shopping is probably out


I can't seem to figure out why he doesn't like spending hours walking around the mall and bouncing ideas back and forth about what colors make my eyes pop the most. Men are so confusing.

6. Sleepovers are a big no (in high school, at least)


Now that we're in college, sometimes I fall asleep at his dorm or vice versa and it's no big deal. However, back in high school, we weren't exactly having slumber parties and braiding each other's hair.

7. When we're together in public, potential suitors think I'm taken


Since I never get hit on in public, I assume it has to be because I'm always with my male best friend and guys think that we are an item. This has to be why. Case closed.

8. No wardrobe swapping


I buy my sweatshirts in XL and only in grey and black so he actually has worn those before, but that is the exception, not the rule.

9. He doesn't understand why I have to put on makeup


What if my ex is at Target? That's reason enough.

10.  Splitting checks at restaurants is a hassle


We eat out. A lot. And most servers automatically assume that we're on one check. That's fine, really. But we're both paying with a card and my Venmo balance is at zero so now we are at an awkward impasse where I have to explain to you that he's not buying me breakfast. I know, I know, chivalry is dead.

Next to come, all the reasons why having a best friend of the opposite gender is a great experience. If I can manage to come up with more than two reasons...

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