Name: Darby Gwynn Kurtz
From: Frederick, Maryland
Cunning, baffling, and powerful
Darby Kurtz 2/13/2021
Cunning, Baffling, and Powerful.
The addiction crisis is a problem Americans have been dealing with for years. In 2017 The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that 19.7 million American adults have battled a substance abuse disorder. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for men and women under the age of 50, and has more than tripled since 1990. We know that addiction ends in one of three ways: jails, institutions, and death. But where does it start? In this essay I explain the stigma around addicts and how I myself have struggled with this disease.
The disease of addiction is a chronic mental disorder causing an individual to repeat an unhealthy use of substances, even though they have harmful consequences. The addiction alters the frontal lobe which controls the brain’s reward system, causing an individual’s motivations to be altered and replaced with compulsive, negative behaviors. We cannot control our desire to use. But with treatment and therapy we can begin to institute changes in our daily lives.
In less than 365 days I went from a stay at home mother, living in a beautiful townhouse in a safe neighborhood, to a sick and suffering individual living in my car without custody of my son. I am a chronic opioid user, and my disease had started at 12 years old when I realized that a few extra Benadryl made me a little woozy. Over the years it escalated, as this disease does, to a toxic and dependant habit which affected every aspect of my life and those around me.
I am blessed with a beautiful and healthy 2 year old son whom I had custody of every other week. One week I am super mom, the next I have open availability to get into any kind of trouble possible. When the pills were not enough, I was introduced to heroin. And at that point my week of freedom fell closer and closer to my time with my son. I entertained behaviors I never thought I would. Eventually I became so sick I could not take care of my son to the best of my ability. In July of 2020 I confessed to his father that I was struggling with addiction and I could no longer take care of my son as I had been. On my son’s second birthday, July 27th 2020, I gave him to his father and have not spent a single night with him since.
My addiction didn’t care. It doesn’t matter if I am a mother. It doesn’t care if I don’t want to use. My disease has no regard for my finances, my family, my goals and future. All it cares about is that next high. The next time I can feel nothing and everything all at once. It took me 3 months after losing my son to hit my lowest. Laying in a Super 8 motel after living in my car for a week, watching Dr. Phil and Coyote Ugly on repeat, I broke down and gave in. My mother had been begging me to go to treatment for months as she watched me fall. And at 5am October 13th 2020, 10 hours since my last high, I called my mother and asked her to pick me up before I made any more detrimental decisions. Since that day I have been in four treatment centers back to back.
The first rehabilitation center I entered got me off the drugs, which was a painful and terrorizing experience, and taught me things about myself I never realized before. How my drug use is a temporary bandaid for my mental health issues I’ve been dealing with for years. I learned how my dysfunctional childhood caused trauma that I had not confronted. I understood what codependency means, not only with mind altering substances but with relationships as well. It was the first step into my recovery but I had much more to learn.
By my fourth treatment center I fully grasped the concept of powerlessness. I spent 28 days on a beautiful property tucked into the South Mountains of Frederick County Maryland. I had understood my disease to be progressive and fatal, but what I hadn’t come to understand till then was what my first year in recovery will look like. There will be times I want to give up. Moments where my emotions are all over the room and I have to utilize my healthy coping skills rather than running towards the easy way out. I learned that patience, and persistence is what will keep me alive. At this point in my recovery I was ready to accept the process.
I am currently staying in a sober home for mothers and children working hard to regain access to my child and continue my journey in recovery. This is just my story. My experience, strength and hope. Addiction has a widespread effect on our health, families, and the economy around us. Drug addiction currently costs the American society over $740 billion in lost productivity in the workplace, health care expenses, and crime related costs. It cost me everything I ever loved, even my own child. I am one out of every eight Americans who struggle with this disease. My goal this first year of my recovery is to go back to school for Substance Abuse and Addiction counseling. As it says in the NA basic text, “for the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel”.
I aim to achieve my degree and help those who are suffering know that there is a better way of life. I believe we need more resources for the younger generation. The DARE program tells us drugs are bad, but it doesn’t explain that addict behaviors can start way before the first drug. One day I hope to institute a program for high school students that outlines the true face of addiction and its consequences.
The sixth edition of the Narcotics Anonymous basic text pg 16