Marie’s Discussion of Addiction

“Even when I took the drugs I realized that this just wasn’t fun anymore. The drugs had become a part of my routine. Something to wake me up. Something to help me sleep. Something to calm my nerves. There was a time when I was able to wake up, go to sleep, and have fun without a pill or a line to help me function. These days it felt like I might have a nervous breakdown if I didn’t have them.”
– Cherie Currie

I have never been addicted to a drug such as cocaine or heroin, however I do have addictions. I am addicted to nicotine, but even more so to the act and ritual of smoking. I can not compare the need for crystal meth to my need of nicotine as I don’t know how it feels to need meth. I can not compare trying to quit smoking to what it takes to quit drinking as I have never been an alcoholic. So I’m not going to talk about those things.

What I do know is what it is like to grow up loving an alcoholic. How much your intoxicated loved one’s actions can impact another’s life. How their words can slice like a blade or their actions can endanger the lives of everyone around them. How their addiction is not only their issue but the whole families. How useless you feel watching your loved one lose themselves in their addiction, in their need to feel normal. The fear you have when they go out, taking their car keys and disappearing; the fear not only for their wellbeing, but for everyone else who’s out and about: people you don’t even know. The uncertainty of whether they will be home tonight, or if they will get in trouble with the law. Or the nightmare of getting that phone call in the middle of the night telling you that they will never walk through the front door again.

My uncle was an alcoholic and had been for longer than I’ve been alive. My family for the most part has always been a fairly tight-knit group. I would be visiting my grandparents at least two days a week for as long as I could remember, and many times it was closer to four days a week. With my uncle’s health and drinking he was unable to hold a solid job and ended up living with his parents, my grandparents. Despite my uncle’s drinking and ignorant remarks I adored him and wanted to spend endless hours with him as a small child. That was before I really understood why he was like he was and when he would make an effort to control his outbursts in front of me. When all I saw was his humour, playfulness, woodworking skills and his musical talent. I was probably around seven when I started seeing how nasty his addiction made him. I started to hear his racist comments and see his ‘grown-up’ temper tantrums. I would witness how mean, controlling, manipulative and abusive he could be towards my grandparents. It had seemed to me that the only time he could be nice was when he was just playing around. Looking back a couple instances stand out to me, some are good but most are bad and it hurts me to think that these are the memories I have to remember him by.

I remember when I was still a toddler and my uncle was trying to teach me to play the guitar and I was not getting it. I remember how he told me that I have no hope, Im a lost cause and I shouldn’t bother trying to learn a musical instrument, ever. It hurt, but I never consciously dwelled on it until I tried to learn an instrument later on in my childhood.
I remember through out my childhood my uncle and I would laugh and sing along to old rock music while he taught me how to play pool. As a kid this was my favourite thing to do with him, as we never argued over it and became something that even to this day I love doing. In a way I also thank him for my love of math for that reason as he would explain to me how successfully playing pool was nothing more then the use of trigonometry when aiming. Playing pool was when I started realising how smart he really was, as he’d explain why it would work and talk about formulas as though it was something you learned as a small child. Which contradicted the comments about how he was dumb and useless, seeing as he was a high school drop out.

I was eight when he flipped out on my granddad for leaving an empty jar in the cupboard. He was in my granddad’s face yelling, calling him nasty demeaning names and had grabbed him. I remember crying and yelling at my uncle, telling him that his behaviour was unacceptable and that he should learn some respect. I remember calling him a monster and thinking that I didn’t recognise him anymore, that I couldn’t love someone like that.

I remember growing up I used to beg him constantly to bring his guitar out and play something for us. How he’d refuse a couple times telling me he had nothing new to play before he would agree and bring his guitar down to the living room and play a couple songs.

I remember when I first found out my uncle was really sick. How drunk and upset he was when he turned around and told me not to get used to him being around. How my granddad would out live him even if my granddad passed away in a couple years time.

I remember when I was in grade seven band and was trying to learn the clarinet and all the hours we spent practicing. How when I would get something right we’d play it, me on my clarinet and him on his guitar. That same year him trying to help me understand how to play the guitar when I was taking lessons. Teaching me how to tune my guitar, all of which would dwindle to me watching him play and sing something due to my insistence.

During Christmas or any holiday dinner I remember the debates our family would get in. Or the comments made that would hurt my uncle. I remember the hurt in his eyes. I remember how clumsy he is (I’m just as clumsy, sober) and would sometimes spill his wine. If anything embarrassed him or didn’t go his way he would hastily excuse himself and hide in his room for a couple hours. I learnt earlier this year that all he wanted was my granddad’s approval, for his dad to be proud of him. How he never saw it, because he saw himself as failure.

I remember when I was sixteen and we had my grandma’s wake at the house. How my uncle made himself scarce after he greeted everyone. How later on he came back downstairs, drunk and crying, carrying his guitar. How he sat down beside my granddad and started playing his guitar, how sad his voice was while he sung hallelujah. How he started crying, successfully bringing us all to tears, when he started to play the song he wrote for his mom. How his voice cracked when he hit the chorus. How he blushed and apologized for screwing the songs up and excused himself. How I wanted to run after him but I couldn’t.
How he took to taking care of my granddad after my grandma’s passing, how hard it was on him. How sick he looked, how drained he was. How he had to get a friend to help manage the day to day tasks. To help answer my granddad, who at this point had a bad case of Alzheimer’s, when he asked where my grandma was. I remember how broken he looked.

​I remember how when I was eighteen he secluded himself when my grandad passed away. How mad he was that he outlived his father, that that wasn’t supposed to be the order it went, my grandad was healthy and he wasn’t. How lonely he was when he was on his own for the first time in decades.

I remember when I was nineteen and he was diagnosed with lung cancer. How he tried to quit smoking and drinking, but couldn’t. I remember when he admitted he had a problem shortly afterwards.

Then shortly after having undergone surgery to remove his lung cancer he started to feel weak, dizzy and disorientated. How he tried to drive to the hospital, but ended up hitting a pole by a bridge. How he’d been sober that day and a week later ended up in a coma. How dehydrated he was, how big of a toll his sickness had taken on his body. How up and down his vitals were before he passed away.

I can’t count how many different stories I have heard about my uncle driving under the influence and the accidents he’s been in, thankfully no one got hurt in any (besides him once or twice.)

​It’s heartbreaking to think only one of these memories he was sober for, and it’s also the saddest. How many years I had thought I had detested him, that he was a monster. How what made him a monster in my eyes was his escape from the monster he thought he was. How many years he lived believing he was worthless and didn’t want to live that reality. How this ‘monster’ was really just a boy who was lost and broken in a mans body.

I don’t think there was anything I could have done for my uncle, by the point I was born. I don’t think there was much any of us could do, he had it cemented in his head that he was a failure n everyone’s eyes regardless of their words or actions. Nor did he want the help, or accept anything we say.

​An addict can’t be helped unless they want to change. That’s not to say they won’t ever want to change or you can’t help them see why change is good and possible. Everyone, even addicts, need love and validation. Sometimes love and validation that they are worth something, that there is something better for them besides their addiction. Sometimes it takes seeing that to get it through to them sometimes they need to see what it’s like without it to help make the change. But there is always hope for everyone and help available, it may take a couple tries for recovery to successful though. Addiction is a life long struggle and is not easy to beat. A recovering addict shouldn’t be alone, they need the support and love of their sober loved ones, whether it’s their first attempt at sobriety or twentieth.

Stay Loud. Stay Proud. Stay Sober Lovies,
Marie Olsson

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Howie talks addiction

Hey blog readers, I’m Howie Defranco and today’s topic is all about that wonderful little thing called addiction. Ok wonderful is pushing it quite a bit because it’s actually not in the slightest. Now I myself have a fairly addictive personality but thankfully stayed away from most types of substance related addictions with the exception of alcohol. Thankfully alcohol is not an addiction for me either, partly because I can only stomach so much and partly because I realize when I need to stop. For me though and I acknowledge it wholeheartedly behavioural addictions are my vices. Today I’m going to talk about the ones that affect me more often than I care to think about.

The first of which will be gambling, which is something I have fairly under control assuming I don’t enter a casino. The first time I entered one was with my mom she took to see a show at the Hard Rock out in Coquitlam it was Whose Live Anyway? It was fun and after the show she gave me some money and told me to play on her dime for a bit, she gave me 20$ I turned it into 90$ lucky right? Over the course of about 3 weeks I went to a casino on 15 separate occasions each time taking a limited amount of money and either winning or losing it. It was all for the fun, and then I started playing to win money, I’d take 60$ and walk out having lost 100, 200, 250$. I skipped classes to go play, I ditched friends to go play and that is why if I go to a casino now I never go alone and only bring cash. A gambling addiction can ruin a persons life, I’m just lucky I noticed and learned to control mine.

Then there’s both pornography and sex, yes both are addictions. Since I was 9 years old I’ve watched pornography at l least once every day, I do it when I’m stressed, to help me sleep, to make me feel better, to feel pleasure. I don’t remember exactly how I started watching it, I think I just saw something online one day and felt a need to well take care of myself. I used to do it all the time, if I was at home and because I didn’t have much going on outside of school when I was little it was all the time. That addiction I think lead to an addiction involving sex, that you could probably figure out and that I don’t want to go into detail about. What I will say is it started a year and a half ago just after when I hit one of my lowest points and it lead to me making that same mistake to feel better about myself 15 times over the next year whenever I had the money. I’ve stopped doing it, but even today I still think about doing it, how much better it feels then just watching porn. Every time though that I feel alone, or sad, or butt, or stressed I think about doing it again and sadly it’s more often then I like admitting.

On to easier topics, did you know that food/eating is considered a behavioural addiction. Neither did I but for someone that eats as much as I do it makes sense, I eat 3 meals a day yeah sure, plus snacks, and whenever I’m hungry. I eat a lot of food is the jist of that, I eat whenever and I eat more than most people, mostly cause I enjoy food a lot. I eat when I feel stressed and I eat when I am happy, I use whatever excuse there is to eat, lately I feel I’ve been able to keep it more under control, especially with my family at home going on a diet and having healthier food.

Lastly and probably the most serious addiction I have is an addiction to forms of entertainment, television, video games, movies. I spend hours at home watching stuff or playing video games and I mean unhealthy amounts of them. Literally if I’m at home I’m watching or playing something on the tv in my room, I’ve watched 100 different tv shows through and through, 700 movies and played video games for 24+ straight before.

I know in this blog I didn’t touch on substance abuse because it’s not something I personally have experienced or have witnessed. For those of you who have or are going through it right now please, please seek help. Find someone to talk to about it, at the very least the addictions I have are extremely less likely to cost me my life. So please be careful out there because in this day and age, with so many substance whether illegal or not, it’s incredibly dangerous.

Brian’s Views on Addiction

Addiction is one common thing that can go two major ways in life, one it will break your family and friends apart and two it will end up with you being six feet deep, harsh I know but its true. I have seen a lot of my close family and friends go through addiction and trust me its not a pretty seen when you have to see your own blood smoke crack right in front of you. I have had my own share of addiction from drugs and alcohol, I have lost a lot of family and friends because they got fed up seeing me struggle with it, my mom walked away, my best friends everyone I ever cared about walked away, and I thought I would never see them again. I don’t know which was worse though at the time losing them or loving the addiction…? I know we all make mistakes in life not one of us is perfect but addictions kill us slowly.
How would you feel seeing your loved one walk away from you? Or seeing you kids get hurt by not having their mom or dad around, because they would rather party and drink or go do drugs…? Its the worse feeling ever putting someone you love in that position, I hated the fact I put everyone I love in the position seeing them walk away and leave me, I had to chose between liquor or family and sadly I chose liquor over them for a year, until I hated myself because I was lonely and hurt for not having anyone. But to be honest, after everyone walked away from me and after couple months of thinking I stopped because family and friends means more to me than liquor. I can say yes there are days where I can have a couple drinks and stop but there nights where I’ll go a couple days drinking then stop, I have gotten better after realizing what is more important in your life addiction or family?
We all have our addictions rather that is drugs or alcohol but we can all get better one day. It takes time for some of us to quit completely and for some of us we can quit cold turkey, either way we can quit on our own or quit with someone’s help. Don’t try to do something by yourself if you are unsure if its the right thing to do, talk to someone about the addiction, attend addiction seminars or meetings, find something that you can get help from, check into a rehab or treatment center. Once you get the help you need don’t think that its punishment think of it as a brand new start and a brand new beginning to a new you, life gets better when you have the love and support from your family and friends, sure it maybe tough but the reward at the end of it is worth all the stress. Believe in yourself and think positive and if your going through any addictions right now i believe in you that you can get better and you will.
Much love,
Brian O’Connor

Ivybelle Opinion Piece on Self Harm

Self-Harm is a very touchy subject to a lot of people. It has been around for years and yet people don’t really understand why people do it or don’t really understand that there is more than one type of self-harm. There’s mutilation, burning, too much food or not enough, there’s drugs/alcohol, there’s lack of sleep or too much, and many more. A person doesn’t always realize what they do to themselves. People who starve themselves or have lack of sleep don’t realize that they are harming themselves because they think it’s a normal thing and that it doesn’t hurt their body.

The first thing people thing a person will think when mentioning “Self-Harm” is cutting or burning themselves. Self-Harm can not only be caused by a mental issue but also from bullying, harassment, Abuse, etc.. It can really push someone into harming themselves. Self-Harm is something that I know very well. I myself have struggled with it for years, mine was a combined of different harms including; mutilation, lack of sleep, lack of food and at some point I wanted to turn to burning myself. Not a lot of people knew because I didn’t want anyone to know. I was scared that they would tell my mom or they would make fun of me or send me into a hospital.

The first time I ever tried self-harm I was 10. When I was 10 years old, I got bullied really badly. I got called every name in the book, physically abused, people made fun of me because my mom was deaf and a girl started a petition of who wanted me dead. Eventually I started starving myself. Not only because I was being called ugly and fat, but because my mom was poor and couldn’t always afford to buy food. I stopped eating and I was afraid to tell anyone about the situations I was going through.

In gym class one day I blacked out and the gym teachers didn’t do anything. I thought to myself maybe no one actually cares about me after all. At that moment I didn’t really want to live anymore. With the years I just got the habit of starving myself without realizing that I was actually self-harming myself. I thought it was normal I didn’t think I was harming myself. When I was younger, sleep was not something that I would allow myself at times. The abuse I went through since I was 5 caused me to be paranoid and cause a serious trauma. I would stay awake for weeks and I would start having physical pain. Like cramps, headaches, my eyes would hurt, I was emotionally drained and eventually it didn’t matter anymore because I allowed my body to suffer because of my fear. With time, I didn’t have to force myself to stay up anymore and I wouldn’t get any physical pain because I got used to it. I didn’t realize the damage I was causing to my body.

In high school I was finally told by an old friend told me that cutting was a way for her to release pain and it felt good. I tried it and that’s what I turned to… I did it for many reasons. One of them was to focus my pain physically and forget the pain emotionally. I hated the feeling of pain. So instead I would focus on the physical pain because it was only temporary. Another reason as well, was because I felt ugly. I was bullied for years and people would always call me ugly, fat, useless, they said that nobody loved me even my mom. Eventually I believe it. Self-Harm was a way for me to express how I felt on the inside to match the outside. Another reason was that I became addicted to the pain. The pain felt good, It made me feel alive again.

When go through a lot of emotional pain and bottle it up, you eventually become numb. It’s like it becomes too much mentally and emotionally and you forget that you are even alive because eventually you don’t feel the pain of cutting or burning or any other type of self-harm. After cutting wasn’t enough for me, I wanted so badly to try burning myself. I came close to doing it until I got caught by a friend and gave me a speech about how self-harm wasn’t the way to deal with situations. At that point, bullying wasn’t the only problem. There was family issues as well. But then I thought to myself maybe I should just stick to cutting along with the other things I was doing to myself. See, even though people tell you to not harm yourself, it’s something that is not easy to stop.

Often you think to yourself that no one understands your pain, that they don’t really care about you, that they say it out of pity or that they would feel responsible if something happened to you. You think that you are alone, that you will never get through your problems that the easiest way to deal with it is self-harm to the point that you kill yourself or even become numb. Sometimes you would like to wear a t-shirt or shorts but you can’t because you don’t want people to judge you on the battle wounds you have or you feel too ugly because of the scars, yet you can’t seem to stop. It’s a way to relief yourself, a “home”, an addiction, your therapy.

A lot of people won’t understand why you do it. And really, it’s not something that’s easy to explain unless you go through it. Often people who self-harm are being called weak, stupid and even “useless”. I’ve heard that one many times,but it’s not. People who self-harm are a lot stronger than people think. They go through a lot and don’t know how to deal with it. It’s so easy to be judged. Not everyone has the courage to take a blade, knife, razor, etc… To their skin without thinking without crying and doing it over and over again.

Often people tells us that we are attention-whores, or we are a sad excuse. Sometimes were are just looking for people to pity us. That would wouldn’t be harming ourselves if we really wanted to end ourselves. However sometimes, people who starve/over eat, use drugs/alcohol, etc… Don’t realize they are harming themselves, so how can they be looking for attention- not everyone has money to get therapy. A lot of doctors would say that you need medication or therapy, but honestly, we don’t need therapy or medication to make us feel crazy. We need someone to give us a hug and tell us we will be okay and that we aren’t crazy. We need a true friend who won’t betray us, and no one wants to be a medication because they just think we are crazy and that medication will make people stop harming themselves.

Self-harm is a very vulnerable thing to admit and to talk about. Schools don’t really talk about it anymore. People choose to close their eyes instead of getting them some help. More and more people are turning to those releases because it’s the only thing that can make them feel free in a way. Today’s society is making us more and more depressed because of the standards or being “beautiful“ or  making us so stressed out that we feel like there is no way out. Today, I still struggling with self-harm. I’ve stopped for a couple years and every day is another day that I am struggling to not get into it again. It’s not easy. When I see a knife, the temptation is there. There’s morning and lunches that I skip eating and there are days that I force myself to stay up. It’s a battle that I keep fighting but I tell myself that I have to stay strong.

So remember people, stay strong. You are beautiful and it does get better. Don’t be afraid to get help. You are not crazy, you are just going through pain that is overwhelming and hard to deal with. You will get through it. Stay strong. Stay Beautiful. – Ivybelle – Xx