Name: Phillip Hanson
From: Chicago, IL
Don’t Scream When No One Is Looking
I am an addict. I am a human. I feel shame and excitement happiness and sadness. Since the recent pandemic and the mandate to wear mask in public I finally feel on somewhat equal grounds with the rest of the world. This is addiction. You are contagious and it gets insanely hot wearing your daily facade. I abused crystal meth for over 10 years. I found help and I am grateful. There are days I fall back into my lot in life and push a massive boulder up a hill only to have it roll back as I near the top.
I only blame myself, but some events play rolls in our lives. I lost my little sister to addiction in October of 2010 during the opioid epidemic. I was living in Chicago alone at the time and it was a nightmare. After her burial I returned home and cried for days. Addicts seem to lack the skill of processing intense emotional traumas and I was no different (but wasn’t I?). A month later I was using crystal meth daily and stealing Oxycontin from a friend. I suffered with severe bulimia because of the rush that came from vomiting a cheese puff. I was not raised in no such manner, but addiction is only concerned with the present anyway.
I am certain many people are familiar with the documentaries and news stories that very explicitly show every inch of “THE FACES OF METH”. These depictions are not even close to what an addict looks like, not a good one at least. I, for instance, am constantly smiling primarily because it is my default go-to in social situations. I have every single one of my teeth, no pick marks on my face or body sores, no bulging bloodshot eyes, or a frame that could easily catch wind in a Chicago gust. It is so much harder to get help when you don’t look the part or is it?
I want people to fully understand the chemical firings that are happening every time an addict uses or drinks or finds comfort in abysmal places. You cannot just offer compassion and kind words to an addict. That can quickly be converted to manipulation. I have only been clean for a few months and after relapse and relapse I have been screaming at the top of my metaphorical pillar of lies, HELP!!! I wanted out of the daily need the hunger to use but all I ever seemed to get was sympathy with the causal congratulations and “ONE DAY AT A TIME”. I am not anti-NA or AA meetings and they are greatly beneficial but I that trite remark gets me every time. I cannot help but think but what one day in Hell and “ONE DAY AT A TIME”, have in common. Hell would solve my issues in far less steps.
After selling for 2 years in Chicago, I ran out of my suppliers and was forced into sobriety. I took a job out in California where I relapsed, and I finally went to rehab for over a year and that is when I knew I wanted to be clean. I was 35 and had nothing to show but a ruble and ash from all the bridges I have burned and guilt that eats at me even now. For an addict, at least for me, I never understood emotions. My rehab therapist opened me up. I studied people for fun and I master manipulation long before I knew what it was. I knew that my ironically low self-esteem made it easy for people to trust me. I’m white, handsome, and charming to an alarming extent. All addicts have a toolbox and our resourcefulness could solve world problems. I knew that when something sad happens, you cry or when something miraculous happens you rejoice. However, I did not know the amazing, daunting, and excitement of emotions.
I found my help not by screaming when no one is looking but by telling everyone I know……I am an addict. I am human.