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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:00 pm 
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Hey everyone, times like these make me so glad you guys are here because without others that understand I don't know what I would do. Tonight I somehow got into a conversation with my girlfriend about opiate addiction and she mentioned that she did not believe it was a disease or even close to being like any other psychological disorders. I'm shocked mainly because she's been very supportive of me taking Suboxone. She's never asked how long I intend to keep taking it and she's just never made me feel bad about the choices I've made in my recovery.

Tonight as I mentioned though we somehow ended up in a fairly deep conversation about opiate addiction and I was completely shocked to find out that to her opiate dependance is not a disease. She even went as far to say that the only reason I've been clean for a little while is that I'm not like "other" , "real" opiate addicts. I was just completely taken off guard. I know I shouldn't have assumed that she would understand the true nature of the disease or that it is in fact a disease but based on how she's handled me being on Suboxone I guess I just thought she was more enlightened. I just find myself feeling really bad about myself now. I guess I'm just depressed to find out that she really does seem to think that my opiate use was the result of bad decisions and that it had nothing to do with diseased or abnormal thinking or beliefs. I tried to explain to her that given how "normal" or whole the first time I used opiates made me feel that I did not think it was irrational at all for me to continue to pursue the same feeling. She didn't buy any of it though and after I tried to help her see that just as it would be futile to blame a depressed person for not thinking positive enough as it would be for someone to blame an opiate addict for continuing to use in spite of all the negative consequences. I know very well that I was incapable of making rational decisions when I was using but she apparently thinks that I was just continuing to knowingly and willingly hurt others instead of quitting.

I guess I just felt like venting a bit. Maybe she'll eventually see that opiate addiction really is a disease and not just the result of people intentionally making the same ignorant choices to hurt others and themselves again and again. Anywho I hope everyone has had a nice evening and once again I'm just so thankful for you all :) I'm glad that there is at least one place that I can go where others understand who and what I am and still will not judge me.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:34 am 
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It can be really hard for people to grasp the desease concept when they don't have it. It's a debate that IMO is not worth entertaining. I have family members (not my wife thank god) that feel the same way as your girlfriend and it does hurt for some reason. I used to get really upset and argue with these people till I was blue in the face. It's not worth it. I'm sure your girlfriend is a great girl and obviously she stuck by you through this so atleast she is supporting you. It's very difficult to change how someone thinks or feels about certain things. I have friends that are die hard republicans and others that are democrats, I listen to them argue and debate all the time and know one ever changes thier opinions. Try to see it from an outsiders view point. When people can take a pill or a
drink and then stop it's hard for them to understand people who can't. Even after all I've been through with addiction, when I see someone losing everything to gambling in the back of my head I'm thinking "just stop", because I don't have a problem with that. I have a distant cousin who battles anorexia and has almost died a few times and it's a knee jerk reaction for me to think "just eat something", I can't grasp the fact that at 80lbs she feels fat. It's insanity to me, I don't get it because I don't have that problem. It's the same thing with parts of my family and your girlfriend. Be greatful for her supporting you through this and maybe, eventually, she will start to understand where your coming from. Good luck with all that and try not to let it bother you.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:40 am 
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Matt2,
I really feal for you because my wife of 10 years has no clue either.She thinks I'm trading a drug for a drug.One of the reasons we live in different countries right now:(


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:44 am 
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Hey Matt,

It sounds like your girlfriend really disappointed you. I'm sorry for that. But like Smoothy said, she HAS stood by you, regardless of how she feels. And that means A LOT! And because she did stick by you, I don't think it's unusual that you assumed that she saw addiction in the same way you do, thus you were surprised when you found out she doesn't.

I hope sharing this with us helped you to express some of what you're feeling. Expressing our feelings goes a long way in helping us to deal with them. Isn't it great to have this forum with these people to turn to? I know I'm as grateful for everyone here as you are.

Maybe little bits of education along that way might help her to understand. Nothing overt or too terribly obvious, just little tidbits here and there. Just a thought. I say focus on her actions and how well she has treated you and maybe less on what she says about addiction.

Hang in there and I'm so happy to be here for you. You've always been so supportive to everyone here, it's good to see you turning to us and thereby taking care of yourself.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:40 am 
Hi Matt - I'm pretty much in the same boat. My husband has abused all of the same drugs I have, but then he just stops, so he can't understand why I can't "just stop". But on the other hand, like your girlfriend, he has stood by me through many things, so I can't judge the entire relationship on how he views addiction. Like everyone else here, I wish other people could understand, but like Smoothy said, I do the same thing, too. I see an anorexic and I'm like, why don't you eat something? Even though not eating to them is like taking drugs to us. So I guess we can only truly relate, as far as our addiction goes, to each other. So I'm glad you posted here. I hope it gives you some comfort that we "get it".
Lilly


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:15 pm 
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Matt you are definitely not alone! My story is a but different. My husband knows I am an addict and will always be. But he does NOT support me being on Subs and I have gone through a lot since July to get down to 2 mg. He also said I was trading a drug for another drug and said he woulld leave me if I did not get sober. I think after seeing how hard it has been on me though he had a change of heart and he has now told me to stay on a lower dose and stablize. You know I think it is just so hard for our loved ones. They may not know what to do with their feelings and may even say things they don't even mean sometimes. Have you encouraged her to attend any meetings to help her get some education? Hang in there!
:)
L


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:57 pm 
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That's a good point. My wife attended alanon for a few months and it helped her out alot. Ask your girlfriend if she would consider a meeting or two. Sometimes there are AA meetings and Alanon meetings in the same location. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:26 pm 
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I think this is why addiction specialists say that this is a family problem. I think that all of us have gone through this on some level and to some degree. I have some family members and friends who claim to understand all about addiction but then make comments to me that make it clear that they do not. When it comes to significant others and very close family, my personal belief is they don't have to agree. However, what I think they do owe to us is to get some education on this issue. Indeed addiction really is a family disease or problem. If we had cancer or some other fatal disease would they not want to educate themselves and find out as much as they could about it and how they could best help us and understand what we are up against? Is this not the same thing? If after attending some classes, meetings, seminars, reading books, watching videos, whatever, they still do not agree, well at least they are making somewhat more of an informed decision. Without that education, they are making up their minds based on hearsay or basically on just what they seem to think is the case.

I don't know if you can get your girlfriend to obtain some additional information but I have heard of many people changing their tunes once they come to really understand addiction. Again, they may still not agree with us, but if they truly did love us they would at least seek out the truth and at least make an informed decision.

That's just how I see it. Then again, perhaps that's why I'm divorced. LOL


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:00 am 
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Matt,

I'm sorry to hear your girlfriend doesn't understand and that you are disappointed. I can certainly relate. My husband's initial instinct is to blame the addict for the behavior as though there are choices. We watch Intervention every monday and we watch the family members accuse the addict and blame them for being an addict. Every once in a while a very judgmental comment will slip out and he gets "the look" :-) I think he still thinks of it like the addict made the choice to take the drug to begin with and therefore, it isn't a disease and it is their fault. At some point, they could have stopped. He just doesn't realize that like you said, it makes you feel normal and who wouldn't continue pursuit of that feeling? Then it is difficult to see that very fine line when addiction begins. I think that is because for addicts, addiction started the first time you took the drug and for non-addicts, addiction is never there. Addicts don't see the line because it was crossed the moment the drug was taken to begin with. For most of us, we took the drug first legally for some medical problem. We weren't seeking out a nightmare or being irresponsible. Non-addicts don't enjoy the way these drugs make them feel. For us these drugs stabilize and for non-addicts they destabilize (is that a word?).

I find it interesting that your girlfriend doesn't include you in the addict category. My husband often doesn't either. He will say "but you aren't like the people on intervention". I always wonder why he thinks that because I totally relate to the people on intervention.

I also think it is odd that my husband totally thinks being gay is genetic and that it isn't a choice. If I apply his logic of addiction to people who are gay, then he should be saying that they have a choice to enter a relationship with either a man or a woman and if they choose the same sex it is a choice and they don't have to be that way. But instead, he seems to understand that although a person who is gay could choose to be with someone of the opposite sex, they would be unhappy and dissatisfied, and it wouldn't work.......so what kind of choice is that? I could have chosen not to continue taking opiates I suppose but it was so unnatural for me to be sober that to me, it really wasn't a choice. I chose to feel whole which is how the opiates made me feel until they stopped working. For me, taking suboxone makes me feel whole. I don't think that is because I want to be high (seeing as it doesn't do that) but because there is some kind of imbalance inside me and for whatever reason, opiates balance me out even when they don't get me high. I find that absolutely fascinating to be honest.

Sorry for the tangent. I totally understand where you are at. Keep working with her when you have the energy and patience. I do think you can eventually get through to her or help her think of things differently. I am a democrat, but I have engaged in debates with many republicans and at times they do convince me that they have a point on some issues. Not often, but sometimes.

Cherie

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:24 am 
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I think the problem most people have with us addicts is our behavior while using. I agree with donh comparison to cancer or any other fatal condition. The problem is that people with cancer don't lie, cheat, and steal while they are sick. That is where the comparison goes out the window. That is where, to most people, it becomes a moral issue not a medical issue. Personally I think "the doctors opinion" in the AA book sums it up best. The first drink or drug is a choice, after that it is out of our hands, it is impossible to stop once that first one is in our system. In a perfect world our loved ones would educate themselves about addiction and would treat us as being sick, not bad. I am responsable for my recovery and cleaning up the wreckage of my past. I am not responsible for educating everyone about addiction. Like lots have already said, she is still with you and supporting you so she probably grasps the idea of addiction being a disease more than you think. Best of luck.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:12 am 
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"The problem is that people with cancer don't lie, cheat, and steal while they are sick. That is where the comparison goes out the window."

Wow, that is a very good point. Certainly not some huge revelation, yet I really didn't stop to consider it when I made that comparison.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:28 pm 
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Your comparison is dead on IMO. I've used the same comparisons many times when talking with people who don't understand addiction. My point was it can be easy for people to view our problem as moral and not medical when our condition comes with all the other bad behavior. That is why the wife or mother of an addict will resist the disease concept initially. It would be like finding out my wife slept with 50 guys last year and me having to accept she is a sex addict. (just an example, that never happend, atleast I don't think it has, jk). We've hurt these people over the years and to one day explain to them we are sick, not bad dosn't always go over to well. We have to give them time to heal as well. Most family members usually come around we just can't force the issue. This is a compicated topic and like I've said my wife has always been on board with my recovery and has always realized that addiction is a disease. I'm very greatful for that and I really hope all your family and significant others get where she's at some day. Be patient.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:31 pm 
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There have been some great points and analogies about this. My parents know I am an alcoholic and an addict and they just seem to not talk about it. My ex wife of course knows and I don't share with people I work with but I get alot of flack from some that say "You don't drink......ever?"....of course some follow up with "Did you ever drink?" and of course my alcoholic mind says they are asking becasue they know.....not sure I care what they think.

I recently began dating a very beautiful person and she has a lot to offer. We get along well and our relationship is growing....I do however have a huge fear of telling her who I really am........she is a cardiac nurse and I cringe sometimes when she calls because I worry she is going to say....I checked you out today at the hospital and........you know the story....I really like her and worry that I am misleading her by waiting till she has true feelings and then spring it on her.....I had a relationship with somone in AA and it was terrible and I vowed never again.......can I be with someone that isn't an addict or an alcoholic in recovery? She has an occassional wine with dinner and has made the comment before I have a whole bottle of percs in my medicine cabinet but I can't take pain medicine it knocks me out........I refuse to use that bathroom. I know what I need to do......if this disease was contagious I would definitely tell her....ha.

Matt.....that surprises me about your girlfriend but I have to admire her brutal honesty with you....I am glad she has supported your suboxone use and I am not clear if she knew you in active addiction and can see the changes you have made. I know plenty of people that do not believe this is a disease and even I was skeptical when first told about the disease concept in rehab.......but I do belive the genetic analogy.....as both my real parents and grandparents were serious alcoholics and all but one are dead due to alcoholism...I choose to not worry if someone thinks I have a disease or that I just make poor choices. All I do know is I am not that same person today that I used to be......disease or not...I would take me as I am today over any of my past.

Jim


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:28 am 
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It might be a disease, but I don't personally like to view it as a disease. Makes it too easy to absolve myself of responsibility for my life.

Say one day I'm driving down the street and BAM I'm hit by a massive craving. Oh well, I have a disease after all. A disease I'm powerless over. So I have no choice. I'm hardwired to use. F*ck it, might as well use.

Then when people ask why I used? Because I'm powerless and I have a disease! I didn't have a choice...

Doesn't leave much hope for my recovery hey.

So while it may be a disease, constantly reminding myself that it's a disease IMHO doesn't help my recovery.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 5:11 am 
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Tearjerker,
I totally see your point. This is why "the doctors opinion" is so important to read and reread until we understand. Took me awhile because of the 1940's vocabulary and I'm also a little thick. This doctor was way ahead of his time IMO. If you are a 12 stepper or not, those 7 or 8 pages in the begining of the AA book should be read by all of us addicts. His theory is that the first one is a choice. If your driving down the road and decide you want to get high and you go and score, it is absolutely your choice, you have the power at that point. After the first one is in our system it is no longer a choice. That is when the disease kicks in and we are no longer in control. We develope a craving that is beyond our control. Our disease comes out of remission and becomes active once that first drink or drug hits our brain. Think about how many times you had say 20 pills or 20 bags of dope and your intentions were to make them last through the weekend, then before you know it you are all out 12 hours later. That's because our disease kecked in once our brain got a taste. I think I'm starting to repeat myself, everyone please read the "doctors opinion", it helped me understand this thing a little better.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:03 pm 
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It's funny how people are always fixated on "who's fault it is", drugs or not - not realizing that whoever was to blame, it does not matter now - you cannot go back and change your past actions. All you can do is some damage control in the present and maybe learn a few lessons for the future, but whatever you did in the past is completely out of your control.

Now, disease or not - personal responsibility issues are the same, IMO, for the most of it. A diabetic that doesn't watch his glucose and binges on Rocky Road will end up in a hospital, or dead. An overweight person who has a heart condition eats McDonalds every day and does not exercise - same thing. And yeah, how many people end up in wheelchairs or on life support because they got behind a wheel under the influence?

Putting a blame won't resolve anything. I personally don't even go there. Some people have genetic predisposition to addiction, some just make bad choices repeatedly. It does not matter. Maybe it's a disease - but not because it "just happens" to you, like cancer, but because like any other disease, it has its symptoms, that follow in the same sequence, progresses in the same way and eventually will either kill you or you decide to get better and get help. Like with any other disease, anyone regardless of his social status, intelligence, race, religion or whatever can be afflicted by addiction. So yes, in a sense it is a disease, - but personal responsibility is a whole other issue, they should not be connected in any way.

At least that's my humble opinion.

Best of luck to all.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:02 pm 
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Good point mathan. Trying to figure out why we are they way we are isn't the big question IMO. It's what do we do now that we are here? It's like the democrats and republicans debating over what caused global warming. Who cares, let's deal with the issue at hand and point the fingers later. Good comment, gave me something to think about.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:48 am 
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Good point smoothy, we must live in the present. Yesturday is history and tomorrow is a mystery.

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