Posts Tagged ‘Perseverance’

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Lets first define the word disease. According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary the word disease is defined as: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.

OK. Then the dictionary gives types, examples and origins of diseases. You can look up other resources and other dictionary sites but overall the definition is pretty much the same.

I decided to write about this topic as it seems many people do think that drug addiction and alcoholism is a disease and there are others that do not. Most of society, yes the place where substances such as alcohol, Oxycontin (Oxycodone) and where most mind altering chemicals are produced, believes it’s a disease. Which is understandable. The blind leading the blind. Again, the same pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs also have an alternative drug to help get off the initial one. For example, Suboxone, Methadone, Naloxone and Narcan for opiate users. Like walking into a store. You see cigarettes. Next to those cigarettes are an alternative vapor cigarette with a pamphlet on how to stop smoking. Makes sense right?

I could do some crazy research and find the Greek origin of the word disease and I can go into a concordance and look up the word disease, which will come up hundreds of times, and I could really get into a study of biblical proportions. But that’s another place and another time. Lets keep this simple.

There are hereditary diseases. There are viral diseases. There are bacterial diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases. Mental diseases. According to the dictionary a disease is a condition. There are hundreds of conditions a human can have. As a matter of fact, we, as humans, are coming up with new conditions every day. Almost like excuses. Reasons for why we act and do what we do. Yes, there are diseases that are legitimate. Actual diseases and conditions which are out of our control. Physical diseases. Immune deficiency. Infections, illnesses, diseases that are obvious and diseases which are contagious.

I am going to speak from experience. Experience from being an addict for 10 years and also experience from being around other addicts. I was in a rehabilitation center for a total of 10 months. I saw a lot and heard many stories, I have been to many NA and AA meetings and I have spoken to many counselors and therapists alike.

And I’m not talking about just a pill here and there. I’m talking 1000 mg of Oxycontin, an 8 ball of cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, some benzos and God only knows what else, all in one days’ time. I’m not bragging, I’m just giving you an idea of where I was at, during my destructive path. I still attend meetings to this day. I say all this to paint a picture for you; so you understand that my ‘experience’ is sufficient enough to make judgment on this topic.

So plain and simply, do I think addiction is a disease? No, I do not. It may feel like one because there is a point where all self control is lost, but it is not a disease.

Here’s my explanation:

Addiction is not in the air. You can not catch it. It is not contagious. It is not a bacteria. It is not hereditary. It is not in our genes. It is not an inheritance passed down from a family member. Addiction is not in our blood. It is not a virus. It can not be injected into our bodies. Addiction does not leave rashes and boils on the skin. It is not an immune deficiency. There are no pills to become addiction free. There is not an antidote for an addiction.

Now is addiction a condition? It sure is. Is it a state of mind? Yes it is. Is it physical? No, however it does affect the body tremendously. Is addiction a spiritual problem? Yes. It is a three fold problem as the mind, body and soul are affected as a result of being addicted. There are multiple symptoms of an addiction however the drug or whatever you are addicted to is only a symptom of something greater. Our poison is not the main problem, it is a symptom of an underlying issue. Just as guns don’t kill people, we do, we pull the trigger. See ‘Drugs Subsidiary to the Underlying Issue’.

So if addiction is a condition and the word disease means having a condition, then how is it not a disease?

Here’s why. Addiction is the only condition in which we made a voluntary choice to have. It’s the only condition where we expected a euphoric reaction. Yes, we can choose to catch another disease but addiction spawned from an enjoyment. It took us away from pain. It took us away from the past, from stress, from anxiety and daily strife. I don’t think there is any other disease in which one would result in an enjoyment from and would catch it over and over. You may say addiction was not a choice to have yet we made a choice to use, right? We did not know which drug it was going to be. We did not know if it was even going to be a physical substance! Pornography. Lust. Gossip. Fashion. Work. Obsessive compulsive behaviors. Who knew? I smoked weed. I didn’t love it. I drank alcohol, I didn’t love that either. I sniffed a rail of Oxycodone, I fell in love immediately. For many reasons. It was the most euphoric experience I had ever had. Ever. See ‘Is Addiction a Choice?’

Addiction sets in shortly after multiple bad decisions. We find something that makes us feel really good so we continue to do it. Responsibilities and priorities go out the window. Our poison becomes number one and we will do just about anything to get that feeling as often possible. After time we make an attempt to stop and we can’t. It feels like a disease because we are stuck. We feel like we can’t get out. Our hope, our faith and everything we know and learned has been erased, a thing long gone in the past. This is why some may call addiction a disease. Our love for whatever we are addicted to overcomes us. We get into an autopilot mode. The only thing we think about is to feed it.

But there is hope. We do come back. We do fight and we do persevere. We do win. We do overcome. We do conquer. We can learn how to come out of the place we put ourselves in. The chains of addiction can be broken. We can get our self control back. We can renew our minds. Addiction is not a disease. Once and addict NOT always an addict. Once an alcoholic NOT always an alcoholic.

Telling someone that they have a disease because of a series of bad decisions is just dreadful. It destroys all hope for that person. It’s telling them not to take responsibility for the decisions they made. Where is the accountability? Are we just going to let them live this way? Life is unmanageable for this person. So let them continue? This is enabling in a whole new sense. Enabling destruction. We have the power to use and the power to destroy ourselves then we have the power to uplift and the power to help others.

We made a bad decision and we have to deal with the consequence. When we start making good decisions we can deal with the rewards. We reap what we sow. When we surround ourselves with like minded people, productive and strong people, we become like them. God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Set Him as your platform, your foundation, a Rock in which you stand and watch your world change and watch your purpose be revealed. Here’s ‘How to BecomeFree!’

Be Strong, Be Courageous.

Become Free… Become the Difference.

“He who is in Christ is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Believe it!!!

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Does a cloudy, stormy picture like this make us miserable or are we already miserable and this triggers it? I think storms are awesome and beautiful myself…

I’m no doctor. But I can tell you, that through perseverance, dedication and remaining grateful for what I have simply makes me happy. I actually love life and everything it has to offer.

I’ve heard quotes like this one, “The seeds of depression will never take root in a Grateful heart!” How true is this? I sit back often and reflect where I was, where I could be and where I am. Yes, I have days where I am stressed out but it’s temporary. I feel anger, sadness and loads of pressure with the daily struggles of life but I constantly tell myself that I have a God who is greater than any problem I will ever have.

Usually when I’m driving to work first thing in the morning, I daze off a little and remember where my life used to be. I put myself where I was, depressed, tormented and enslaved by addiction then quickly I snap back to reality. I usually say to myself “Thank you Lord for your Grace and where I am today” or “What a sick way to live”… those are my two replies usually.

Then I thank Him for saving me and I reflect on what I am grateful for. I go over every little thing I have and am so thankful because I know that if I were still living in addiction, I would be so miserable and depressed; barely living, just floating around like a zombie, hustling and haunting anyone with money and seeking enablers.

I see people who claim and hold on to bi-polar, anxiety and other excusable issues. I see people who are so stressed out. I see people who are constantly complaining and are just absolutely miserable. I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t experienced what it’s like to lose everything. And I mean everything.
I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t fully surrendered their old nature and allowed a change to take place. I don’t know if they are just so stubborn that being humble, teachable and grateful are nonexistent in their daily vernacular, that they are words they probably do not understand.

I used to be on the quick acting Ativan, Xanax and many other long term anti-depressants as well. I actually still have panic attacks but they are getting so much better. Yes, the hyperventilating, “where did THAT come from”, no warning, “I’m gonna piss myself” panic attacks. They suck. I actually went to a respiratory doctor, had x-rays done and he said, “Everything’s fine, it’s all in your head Mike.” “Oh, great, that’s just wonderful, thanks Doc.” I said to him as I was leaving the hospital with a confused look on my face. Now what am I supposed to do? I think I may have even laughed at myself the whole ride home!

“So not also do I have an addiction problem, I now have a mental issue!? Great.” That’s what I was dealing with. Totally freaking out over everything. This was a time before I got help. Before I tried. Before I put any effort into anything. I was still lost. I didn’t even know how to persevere, I couldn’t, I was so weak. My choices were wrong and my addiction belittled my sense of who I was.

Well, 3 years coming up with one very short relapse after 10 months, after a surgery I was not even close to being prepared for. Glad it happened though. I am stronger from it. I knew what to do, who to talk to and where to go, thanks to time in rehab and thanks to the people who offered time and served as lighthouses in my life, God I am so thankful for them.

It took time, clean, no drugs at all, not even Tylenol or Advil. It took time to persevere and gain a strength that I have never had before. A strength that keeps getting stronger as each day goes by. I persevered by remaining teachable. That I am and will always be a work in progress. That I will always have the ability to learn and grow. That I do have the capability to be humble and close my mouth when I am supposed to. To thank God for a paycheck, for family, for friends. That listening to others speak and understanding that it is not all about me. That accepting others for who they are and where they are in life, without judgment, puts my life into perspective. That I do have something to offer. That I am strong enough to overcome obstacles and achieve my goals. That I do indeed have the power to say no, but not only say no, but to tell someone that they do not have to live this way, and offer advice, plant a seed, and move forward.

Thank you Lord for this gift. As I continue to be humble, remain teachable and stay grateful for what you have given and continue to give me, I am looking forward to a happy life with You and every blessing You are going to offer. The biggest blessing is hoping I touched someone’s life in one way or another.

Become Free! Become the Difference!

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My journey starts way before drugs came into the picture. I was raised in a small suburb of Boston by the name of Chelsea, which was once a rich Jewish communtiy that was over ran by drugs, poverty, and crime. I started my journey with goal, aspirations and dreams but soon realized I didnt feel like I fit in and began to change myself into this persona that was widely accepted by the youth of my community. My Christian upbringing now took a back seat to my “Newly created” person.

At first it felt real good because I began to become accepted by people and didnt have any serious consequences. But as my false character grew this persona engulfed me and I became this “Person” and lost myself, God, and family for a very long time. After a very few years of living this life, drugs now came into the picture. At 15 years of age I was now dealing drugs, sniffing cocaine, taking klonopins, smoking weed and drinking. I walked around like I was a drug king pin and honestly at that time my dream turned to becoming this. Fair to say that never happened, I let the drugs control me to point where I landed in a pysch unit in Belmont, MA for cutting my own face with a blade from a broken razor. I spent roughly around a month and somewhat found a little piece of myself but didnt accept that I was an ADDICT.

After returning back to chelsea I put down the heavy drugs but still lived dirty. I sold and smoked weed, and stayed this way for a few years thinking I found a solution. It wasnt until I had a real shot to the heart, that shocked me out of control once again. My brother in law/Best friend died while drinking and driving. God spared me that night because on any given day we were together. We lived together, worked together, rolled together, that was my ace. That night something stopped me from going. After a long grueling process of pulling the plug and saying goodbyes, I buried my brother and a piece of me with him. I would cry alone and away from people so I wouldn’t show any weakness in my character.

Oxycontin now came into the picture and to bury my pain I used and sold excessively. My whole life became OC’s, I needed them for every aspect of my life. They allowed me to NOT FEEL!! ESCAPE!!

The oxycontin boom to me I thought was a gift from God because I felt good, a doctor made it, and I could nod my pain away. I never considered myself an addict, just a person enjoying life. I felt like I desereved this escape. Soon after though, OC’s led to crime and this led to heroin. I never thought I would be a heroin addict, but somehow I rationlized it to that, I wasn’t that bad I only snort. This person I created was so deep into me I couldnt face myself in the mirror.

Heroin ran my life, I stole from everyone and anyone. I didnt care about anyone or anything. I wanted what you had and I would do whatever I had to do to get it.

Through my toils of being a heroin addict, I had a beautiful baby girl named Gianna. I thought that because of her I would change my life, but I merely lied to the mother of my daughter and continued my heroin use in secret. Soon enough my drug use and decietful ways led to the break up of my daughters mother and I and my heroin use spiraled so far, I began using needles. I found myself exiled from my family, homeless, sleeping down Chelsea High Stadium and content because I had dope in my veins.

Around the time of my daughters birth my father had passed away. He also suffered from the disease of addiction. I was so far into my own addiction that it seems like I was absent during the whole grieving period. I wasnt there for my younger brother, my sister, or my mom. My life was consumed by money and drugs; I had no room for anything else. A year after my fathers passing, I attempted on getting clean by the methodone clinic. It got me off of heroin for a little but opened up an area for other drugs.

During my stint on the methodone clinic, I had the most tragic experience of my life. A week before my younger brothers 18th birthday, my brother and I woke up early one morning to find our mother lifeless on the couch. She had passed away around 5 am that morning due to heart failure. I stared into my brothers eyes as he begged me to do something and was crying frantically so I proceeded to due cpr although I could tell she had already passed on. This feeling inside me was a monster, it was overwhelming and I didnt know how to deal with it.

I put a front on to attempt to be the rock in my family but without God my foundation was on sand and just crumbled. I built a resentment towards God and proceeded to using Heroin extensively to the point of overdosing 3 times and homeless numerous times.

These behaviors finally landed me in my very first attempt of getting clean. I had no where to go, no money and was so dope sick that suicide seemed like my only option. I went to the old tewksbury detox, a post detox in Weymouth which finally landed me at The Salvation Army, Saugus, MA. My life began to turn around and I began to accept Jesus. I say it like this because at this point I didnt want to fully accept Christ, I still wanted to do things my way. After four months of wishy washy recovery I was discharged due to the use of Nuerotin/Johnnies because I listened to my addiction and because they were NON-NARCOTIC it was ok. This behavior led me to living in a rooming house known as the Hotel Stanely in Chelsea, working just for my heroin addiction and rent. This cycle continued for 2 years until it cost me my job and eventually my living situation.

They say God works in mysterious ways and that is so true. During my run, I was down Chelsea Square and I seen the Major from The Salvation Army Saugus and he spoke to me and said he was willing to accept me back into the program. Just the fact that he remembered me out of all the addicts that pass through there was a sign to me. It gave me hope. My run continued for a few more weeks but that moment with the Major never left my mind. One night I just prayed my heart out asking God for help, and that I was so tired of just existing in this numb life I had created. The next day things began to turn around. I got a bed in detox and was readmitted to the Salvation Army program in Saugus.

This time around I surrounded myself with positive people, asked for help and opened my entire heart to Jesus Christ. I began to peel my layers off and tell my story at meetings, I’d pray every day and night asking God for guidance and thank him when I made it through. I had counseling for addiction but I also had a spiritual counselor, who to this day I’m very good friends with and I believe she really is an Angel. For once in my life I was knocking my barriers with God and dealing with emotions I buried for so long.

I am now 18 months clean, I have a sponsor, I surround myself with positive sober people, I go to meetings and continue to ask for help because some days are harder than others. The biggest thing for me is helping another addict and never forgetting where I was. Today I can say I make my mother proud!!! And I can help others by being an example. If I can do it, anyone can, you just have to put the work in…

Paul S MacDonald

“Who says a kid from the ghetto can’t change his stripes”

RIP Mom, Dad, my brother Quentin, Christina S., Russell B., My cousin Todd C., and all those that have lost their life to this disease.

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What is Faith? Is it a verb or is it just this word we use to advocate a ‘good feeling’ of hoping something is going to happen?

Faith. People say “I got faith in that.” and “I got faith in this.”. This type of faith is almost knowing that something will come through. That we have a belief, a confidence in; that we will keep a positive outlook on someone’s life. That we back someone up with positive reinforcement to ensure they succeed. “I got Faith that he’s going to make it.”

“I got faith that the Red Sox are going to win!”. Ok, that’s good… what happens when they lose? What happens to that faith which once was? Do we get discouraged? Do we give up? Some of us may, but some of us continue believing that they will one day win.

So having faith in someone or something is hoping for the best. A feeling of a positive outcome. We encourage people when we have faith in them. We say “You can do it.” or “You are going to get through this.” We believe that people will succeed in one way or another. That something will happen if we keep praying and thinking about it. If we continually dwell on a certain problem or a certain obstacle, if we remain confident, that an assured outcome will arise.

This faith is common and often used. And I have had this type of faith rendered unto me during my addiction. It feels good. Who doesn’t love encouragement? It helps too! Hearing that someone has faith in you gives you strength to move forward.

But what about faith when it’s used as an action. A physical action. Not used just as a mental or verbal hope or encouragement. What happens when we just get up and DO?

When I need a gallon of milk, I don’t sit on my couch, hope and pray about it and it spontaneously combusts into existence in my refrigerator! I get up and go to the store and I get it. I have faith, knowing where it is and I get it. No questions asked. Just like when I was deep into my addiction. I knew where the drugs were, I went and I got them. Just like that. When I drive somewhere, I don’t ask God to get me to where I have to go, although some of us do… we drive knowing that we will arrive at our destination. We get up, get in the car and go.

There are so many things we do that require faith but we bypass it, things we KNOW and things we are used to. Like brushing our teeth, going to the bathroom, eating, sleeping. “It doesn’t take faith to do that stuff!” It doesn’t? If you JUST learned how to do these things, you would think differently. We are so used to doing them, it’s part of our daily routine. If I told you to stop brushing your teeth, what would you say? You’d say no way! Because it’s something you have to do in order to keep your teeth! You want to have energy and feel good tomorrow, you sleep. You’re hungry, you eat.

So this faith of the obvious. This faith of knowing. This blind faith of action which we all use on a daily basis. This same faith is needed on our road to recovery. Need help? Don’t just sit on your couch and hope things will get better. Don’t sit there and pray about it and do NOTHING about it. If I am on fire and burning up in flames, am I going to hope and pray it off me? No. I am going to get up and do something about it. I am also going to get a nurse’s full and undivided attention!

If you need help, ask. If you are struggling and REALLY want a better life, seek and find. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”- Matthew 7:7 These are all verbs. Action. Get up and go get it. There are resources all around us. Have that faith that will get you right to where you want to be.

As we persevere in our recovery, we know what helps us. We know what benefits us and what keeps us safe. The faith it once took to go to a meeting or ask someone for help starts to not be as obvious. It’s called wisdom. We become wise, knowing what benefits us and having the answers to what we need. Just like the daily things we do every day. Our recovery must become the same way in order for us to maintain a healthy, safe and drug free life.

In Matthew 17:20, God tells us that faith of a mustard seed can move mountains. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Will your addiction be conquered? It all depends on your faith. A small amount of faith will make things happen. And do not think for a second that it was God’s will for you to be the way you are! Is it God’s will for a mountain to be where it is? Well yes… but He tells us that faith, as small as a mustard seed, which is pretty small, can move that mountain. That faith can change the place God intended it to be.

Now imagine huge faith, faith of being able to conquer all your obstacles! Faith which is not needed because you have Wisdom. And Wisdom which will not be needed because you will know what to do. It will be so simple. It will be like you knew it all along. You will have overcome that addiction. You will have overcome forgiving someone. Letting go of your past. And you have the Holy Spirit to thank. Wisdom only comes from the hand of God. It takes faith and continually living in obedience to God’s Word. The bible tells us everything we need to know and how to conquer sin.

I wonder how much faith it will take for you to go get a bible and start learning? 😉

You can do it, it’s in you to be more than a conqueror! Become Free! Become the Difference!

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We all know sliding down a slide is easy. All we have to do is lay there and enjoy the ride.

Sledding, Skiing down a hill. Riding on a roller coaster. Jumping out of an airplane; I haven’t tried that yet and I probably never will, takes no effort. I mean, it takes guts, a lot of guts! But the fall is just gravity pulling you down to your destination. There is no effort in falling. And most of the time it’s fun going down. Usually anything that takes no or little effort is fun.

And it is fun using and getting high. It’s fun feeling good and laughing about absolutely useless things when our minds are altered. However, as high as we think we are, we are slowly going down. We think we are having a good time but we are getting pulled down every time we use. Pulled down to a destination of depression. A destination of addiction. A destination unknown.

Using drugs may be a one time event. It may be a phase you’re going through. It may be the life changing catastrophe you and your family were not expecting. Some of us try it and move on. Some of us get hooked. Some of us overdose and never come back from it.

Are you looking to see what happens? Just want to ‘test the waters’ and see which way your life goes? See if you can have ‘some fun’ for a little while and return back with no consequences? It’s an extremely dangerous road. Talk about playing with fire. It may seem fun but it is a downward spiral to death.

So why all this common sense talk? Well, everyone knows all this. Everyone knows that drugs are fun. That drugs are potentially dangerous. We all know going down takes little to no effort.

When we are living in addiction, we put so much effort into scheming and getting our fix we don’t even realize it. The amount of time and thought that goes into planning and pleasing our hunger for our fix is crazy. It’s a constant, vicious cycle no one would ever dream of being involved in. But it does happen. Very often too.

Coming out of addiction takes a lot of effort, but not as much as you would think. If we used HALF of the effort we used in our addictive state; hustling, scheming, stealing… that “what ever it takes” attitude, we would come to a productive conclusion very quickly. The question is do you want to. Whether or not you want to, you know you have to. Especially when you’re messing around with drugs that can kill you.

Climbing a ladder takes effort. Going up stairs takes effort. Mountain climbing takes effort. Going up, against gravity, takes work. It takes strength, power and perseverance. Perseverance as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the ‘continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition’.

Is persevering easy? Not really. Is climbing easy? Is fighting pressure, peer pressure, gravity and the weight of opposition easy? Ever put 50 lbs. on your back and try to climb a ladder? You may be able to do it but my point is every step you take will be an important one. Every step up will be a persevering step.

Going down is simple and easy. Coming back up takes perseverance and strength. It takes time. Thinking. Involvement. Surround yourself with meetings, people and places that will help make your climb a little easier. Persevere. It takes CONTINUED EFFORT and may be DIFFICULT but you can get through it. Doing it with people that have a common bond of growing in their recovery will make you stronger!

Rise up against the flow. Get away from your so called ‘friends’ that are using. If your friends are lost too, find some friends who are found! Find strong friends that will hold you accountable and will be there for you when times get tough. Friends that will talk with you and not judge you. A true friend will give you constructive advice and will be a good example. Grow in Wisdom and start making the right decisions today!

Persevere. Become the Difference!