Whilst watching Channel 5 news today, I felt compelled to write about Russell Brands appearance, during which he confessed that he is still tempted to use Heroin. Russell appeared on the news program to promote his show on Give It Up for Comic Relief which aims to raise awareness for alcohol and drug addiction at Wembley tomorrow.
Russell talked about a recent stressful time that had led him to having the thought of using Heroin to relax. Luckily, he realised the huge social impact and consequences that this would have for him if he gave in to the temptation and the thought was not put into action.
Still tempted after all these years?
Why is it that an addict, who has been clean from drugs for many years, still has thoughts of using? Or an alcoholic, who has acquired substantial time in sobriety, feels it would be okay to have a casual drink? These are questions that baffle the medical profession, addicts and alcoholics and the rest of the population in general!
Is this temporary temptation a real desire to use or drink, or just a superficial thought that can be over powered with reason?
Is Russell in danger of relapse?
I can perhaps best answer this through relating my own experiences in recovery and of working intensively with addicts and alcoholics still seeking recovery. Personally, my experience tells me that Russell is not in danger of relapse, due to the fact that the insane thought of using again was immediately counteracted by a sane and rational thought of the very real consequences involved in taking Heroin. This to me shows a change in his thinking, sufficient to protect his sobriety. Sadly this is not true of every addict and alcoholic that comes in to recovery, and I myself in the past have fallen victim to the belief that I could have just a few drinks. The result was naturally disastrous, but today I feel that I have the tools, should I chose to use them, to combat such destructive thinking.
No Cure for addiction
My experience of addiction, including heroin addiction, is that there is no “cure”; staying sober and clean really is a day at a time and is dependant on what I do on a daily basis to protect my sobriety. My illness of alcoholism and addiction resides in my mind, and at times renders me unable to see the truth. I therefore have to take action on a daily basis to address my thinking and behaviours, thus providing me with a daily reprieve, a day at a time. Before doing what I do now and learning what I have learned, I knew no different. There is no doubt in my mind today that I am an alcoholic and that I will never be able to drink safely. Yet it has not always been that way, before I would manage to stop drinking for a few days, weeks, sometimes even months ( usually after some catastrophic event caused by my drunken behaviour ), only for the thought to come that I could control my drinking and that this time it would be different. I previously had no mental defence against this and would believe my thoughts to be true, a further bender would inevitably follow, much to the utter despair of my family and loved ones. How many times have I heard of others with similar struggles, who, the very same day that they complete their detox, head off to the nearest pub or dealer and enter the cycle of addictive addiction once again? Surely this is complete madness? Many would deem such an individual as completely hopeless and destined for an early grave. For some this is sadly true, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
It is my belief that with the right treatment, no addict or alcoholic is beyond help. I have experienced individuals who previously could not stop for more than a few hours, individuals who relapsed time and time again, those who have lost all except for the clothes on their back, those who have suffered great emotional and physical trauma, who have all but ruined their liver and internal organs; I have witnessed these “hopeless” individuals get sober and clean, and more importantly stay that way.
Recovery is possible for anyone suffering from addiction. I and numerous others are proof of that. However it is usually dependent on getting the right help and treatment. Recovery takes work and commitment, it means living your life differently than before, it involves a huge change in thinking and behaviour, but it is achievable. Hand on heart I can say that the hard work involved is most definitely worth it and I’m sure that Russell feels the same. Russell brands brief experience of temptation was quickly supplanted with rational thought. This is testimony to the work he puts in around his recovery. The fact that he shared his experience on TV news shows true humility and should not be mistaken for weakness.