I’m wondering if there are words I can write that can, in this moment, truly reach into the heart and mind of someone who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, and persuade them to get the help they need? Better yet, let me get very conversational here and speak personally, not objectively, namely to you.  I first want to explain the obvious title’s twist on the famous play and movie, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Tennessee Williams. Maybe you have jumped aboard this vehicle named for ‘desire’ because you think it is a means of entering into a world of longing and craving, and, finally - gratification. While not wanting to admit the truth to yourself, you have actually leapt aboard a dangerous streetcar leading you to a world of endless despair, filled with pain, self-abuse, and treachery. 

I’m not trying to be cute or minimally creative here. I want so much to reach out to you – now. Somehow, I want to discover the language, that can penetrate through the barriers you may be trying to erect – self-imposed walls that keep you removed from the truth of the menacing actions you are engaged in through your perpetual use of drugs and alcohol.  I’m not sure if I can do this. Often what happens when anyone tries to persuade another caught in the midst of addiction, to stop using, such attempts easily fall upon indifferent or even hostile ears. And, the truth be told, it is so easy for someone, like myself here, to unwittingly sound preachy or superior – like, look at me – I’m no longer addicted, I did it, why can’t you? Or, I’m just an outsider, writing a recovery blog, not a part of your current social or inner circle, or even among your own peers. Why should you afford me, my words, a single second of consideration? Anyway, if you are using now, or getting ready to venture out to a party or sitting alone somewhere anxiously awaiting your next dose of something - a bottle, pill, pipe or needle close by – why would you allow anything to alter your next, obvious move?

The use of language and words are a primary means of communication between people. Yet, although you may fully comprehend and understand a given language and the inference of meaning behind the use of words in sentences – spoken by you or to you – we are never assured that the full meaning of these sentences have any effect upon us. We all carry with us a host of ‘filters’ in our minds that can either regard or disregard comments – this is necessary at times and a part of self-protection and our right to accept or not accept words presented to us at a given moment. Granted, we are surrounded by so many forms of electronic communications in each given day, we must have some ‘filters’ to what we are exposed to and afford ourselves some limits on reacting to each and everything we hear.

So, when is it that you do allow yourself to stop and listen to something being said?  When do you relinquish the filters, just enough, to permit your inner being to not just hear but to listen? Moreover, after consenting to really listen, when do you decide to ‘act’ upon such promptings. And, is your action one that will be good for you or result in negative consequences – healthy or unhealthy – humane or inhumane – forward movement or backwards movement? People have choices and make decisions every day – for better – for worse. And, this especially holds true for someone coping with addiction. I can be talking to you, trying to persuade you to stop using or drinking – yet, you choose to continue to harm yourself. You may even agree with what I am saying – but, you choose to capitulate to the urges you feel and dismiss, even for now, the advice being offered. Words are so often useless and ineffective.

But, look around you. Even with all of the expected rejection of helpful advice from others, people are in fact entering into recovery every day and ultimately succeeding. I’ve seen people in AA meetings who were drunk during the meeting. We’ve all seen others at NA meetings who were high on something. And, to a casual observer, this may appear quite incongruous. But, seeds are being planted all the time. You never know when one of those seeds finally sprouts and shines that important ray of hope through all the pain and turmoil you may be presently experiencing. Those of us participating within the recovery community want to help. And, guess what? The help that is out there is plentiful, honest and sincere, true and capable of reaching into your heart.

But, if today is not that day for you, I understand. I get it – I really get it. I was you – I was that person who believed I was beyond reach. I would have shut out any ‘preachy’ words or advice from others. Just a few short years ago, I was in your condition – horribly addicted to alcohol, despite growing health problems, shaky hands and unending nausea and vomiting – every day. And, the sickening thing was, the only way my mind thought it could get through another hour or two, each day, was through consuming more alcohol to stop the shaky hands and decrease the intense nausea. Better yet, so much of my daily behavior was a futile attempt to appear ‘normal’ or ‘fine’ – making sure that no one knew about ‘my condition,’ my real condition. My perpetual use of my drug of choice – alcohol – was not making me feel good anymore – quite the opposite. I was now so deeply submerged into my abuse, that my drug consumption only allowed me to fragilely appear functional. I was playing a deadly game of hide and seek – then hide, hide more – until there was no more hiding. I could not see through the prison walls, not even for a moment. Rational, pragmatic, logical thinking or advice was beyond me and my behavior. The thought of stopping drinking did not even enter my mind – because I quite frankly, did not want to stop or knew how to stop.  Finally, I alienated my closest relationships, the people I loved, my family, personal friends, business relationships, everyone. Could I see this or comprehend what I was really doing? Or, was I completely helpless except for that slight ray of light that only sporadically surfaced, offering a hint that help could in fact be found and was closer than I imagined. And, I suppose this ‘flicker of light’ is all that I would like these words to be – for someone, for you. I refuse to get preachy or use a type of approach that ‘demands’ that you must change your life now. Such tactics, I find, do not work too well – except for satisfying something in me more than offering something to you.

However, I will propose the following to you. You can change your life. You can decide this day to seek help, because, believe me, great help is there for you. You must first be bold and courageous though to take that first step, and admit to your inner self that you have become imprisoned by your addiction and before you can rationalize yourself into not getting help. You must become truthful to the actuality that you are on a streetcar of despair that has no intentions of letting you off. Your streetcar named ‘desire’ has lead you to a realm of utter despair. It is so painful to see you, anyone, in this state of pain and confusion, not knowing what to do next.  

I recently read the news reports about the awful overdoses in Louisville, Kentucky – at last count, over 150 of them. What was even more disturbing is how few individuals, after experiencing their near-death encounter, actually sought recovery help afterwards. People were either afraid of legal ramifications, or being found-out, or worse – they simply did not want to stop using. Doesn’t this shake you? Are you horrified by the accounts from Louisville? I certainly am. But, any of us who have ever been addicted to alcohol or drugs, we know the truth – we just do not want to stop or know how to stop. And, tragically, the very help we need is so close by to us – a phone call, a knock on a door, reaching out to a friend – help is sometimes right in the same room with us.

You, your life is so important and you simply may not be able to see this truth right now. But, believe me, all those feelings and thoughts you have inside are all about you. If the outside world and those around you have treated you with little compassion, nurturance or love – I feel for you. You deserve more than that. You also deserve to live free and not shackled by your addiction. At best you are embarked on that streetcar again, imbibing in your drug of choice – and for what? – a moment’s sense of escape or relief – a tinge of a ‘good’ feeling – a temporary respite from facing yourself – settling for a twig of pleasure while denying yourself everything that there is within you? You have a right, a gift from the Creator, to live your life healthy and free from endless despair – the streetcar named despair – a life immersed in drugs and alcohol – keeping you from yourself while at the same time divorced from the outside world. Your life is worth so much more than this. You deserve so much more and it is in reach – only if you decide to take that first step towards recovery. There is love in the world around you – believe me – I know there is. There is caring help right in your own community, just waiting for you to open that door. There is love within you, despite whatever abuse you have succumbed to through your use of drugs and alcohol. There is so much more to life for you to experience than simply trying to survive another day on that treacherous ‘streetcar named despair’ – that destructive vehicle that seemingly will not stop to let you off. But, you can get off – you can exit anytime you decide that you are ready to stand up and account for yourself – give to yourself a real gift of life – a loving gift – the gift you deserve – embarking upon those first steps of your journey of recovery. Until next time, contemplate living your life with peace, serenity, compassion and love . . . One Day at a Time.



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