Let’s face it, even with all the progress we as a society have made, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding addiction and the people who struggle with it. There is still a lot of shame cast on addicts, like we chose this life for ourselves.
In a way, I can see how people can start to feel that way. It’s a fact that if I had never made the decision to try drugs in the first place that I never would have become addicted to drugs. It’s just common sense. But seriously, we are all human and all make our own fair share of mistakes in different forms. Unless you want someone digging through your life to examine all the mistakes and poor decisions you’ve made, I suggest dropping the attitude of judgement and showing a little compassion.
Not to mention, lots of people become addicted to medications they were initially prescribed by a doctor. I’m not even including those people or commenting on the massive problem we have with doctors overprescribing unnecessary medications for the sake of this discussion, or rant rather...
Anyway, when a person has a heart attack, do we shame them and say, “Well they should have known better! They did it to themselves!” No, we absolutely do not. We send flowers and cards, we pay them visits, we give them time off work and encourage them to take all the time they need to restore back to full health so that they can get back to living a normal and healthy life.
However, one can make the argument that in many cases, the person did make a series of poor choices that led to them having a heart attack. A very poor diet, little exercise, and a lack of lifestyle changes after warnings from a doctor all can be major factors in contributing to a heart attack. I’m just saying. Why is there such a huge difference in the way we view these situations?
Stigma, stereotypes, and preconceived notions about addiction all collectively cloud our pecreption and our judgement. I believe that the first step to changing the way we think about addiction is to become aware of and acknowledge the ways we are currently viewing it. Then we can realize how wrong and outdated it is. Then hopefully we can start to consider more practical viewpoints that offer compassion and pave the way for healing.
I saw a video where someone argued that the antidote for addiction was connection to others and to society. (You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg) It really is a radical way to consider this issue, and while it may not solve all of our problems, I believe that we as a society would make HUGE steps in progress if we adopted some of the philosophies explained in the video. Instead of casting addicts away with shame, what if we invited them in, loved on them, and showed them compassion? What if we helped them through their situation and made their lives easier, instead of harder, until they could get back on their feet and back to living a healthy life?
Of course, a lot of this success would depend on the person dealing with addiction putting in work on their end. But I believe we should help people who are trying to help themselves. We are all human, and we are imperfect. But expecting a broken person to fix themselves while jumping through various hoops and hurdles that we as a society set in their way doesn’t help the problem.
So after spending all that time ranting about the problem, I’d like to finish by offering some practical ways that you can help be a part of the solution. First and foremost, if you know someone who is struggling with addiction, I encourage you to reach out to them. Tell them you love them and you care about them. Be authentic and genuine. Don’t allow them to feel like they have been forgotten or that they are broken.
If you are an employer, I encourage you to hire people in recovery. Most people have no idea the struggle that many people in recovery face when it comes to finding solid employment, often because of past mistakes that occurred during their addiction that are not reflective of the person they are today. If you see someone put down on an application that they have a criminal record, within reason, maybe take the time to talk to that person and let them explain. You may find a diamond in the rough who is a great employee, someone who made some bad choices in the past but is not actually a bad person. Don’t just dismiss someone right off the start because they were honest on an application.
If you are still reading, I just want to say thanks for taking an interest in krēd and in recovery. As a token of our appreciation, we are offering 25% off all orders from our website when you use the promo code “endthestigma” at checkout, one order per customer email. It would really mean a lot to us to have your support. If you would like to connect and learn more, don’t hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wow. The last 14hrs have been crazy in the best way possible. Last night, Corey and I had dinner with Officer Rob Nease. 3.5 years ago he busted us for some stuff that could've landed us in prison for 8-12 years. In that moment I thought my life was over. The thought that I was invincible was finally crushed. I remember looking across the driveway at Corey, both of us in handcuffs, wishing I were dead. But just like always, I blamed everyone else but myself. "It was Rob's fault. Screw the police!" - I said.
Rob said that he felt like he should give me a chance. He said he believed in me. I did not receive a felony that day and for that I am eternally grateful. In his 30 years of working Narcotics he's seen addicts recovering. He's also seen addicts die. He believed that I could be on a path of recovery one day and boy was he right. Today I owe a major part of being where I am today to that man.
This was another one of those spiritual awakenings I talk about. My life flashed before my eyes and I could see the big picture. He says that his ultimate goal in his work is to help the addict and watch them help the next addict who's struggling to find their way. I sat there in disbelief listening to the same officer who arrested me now telling me that he is proud of what we are doing to help others and how he wants to help us in any way that he can. I gave him a hug and walked out of the restaurant almost in tears, overwhelmed with gratitude. I could have sat there and talked to him all night!
This morning I went to make coffee and realized I didn't have any left. I'm the type of person that needs coffee to get my day going and I can become frustrated really quickly if not. I pulled up to the window at Starbucks and the cashier told me the lady before me had paid for my coffee. That frustration subsided and once again I became overwhelmed with gratitude. PEOPLE ARE GOOD! I paid it forward and gave what my order would've cost to the lady in line behind me.
My life has come around full circle. I was full of hate for so many years and never would've thought I would be grateful for these types of things. I love this process. I want to give it to as many people as I can. To all those that have believed in me, thank you. I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
We can always use your help in continuing what we do. Support krēd and help support recovery. Please checkout our online store where even buying one shirt helps make a difference. Share with your friends and help us spread the message!
Complacency, that moment when you think you got it. This sounds all too familiar to me. Just a couple of weeks ago I was consumed by complacency and self centered thoughts. My ego and disease had taken over and I was on my way to a drug relapse. See what I'm saying? Because I was already in relapse mode. Relapse always starts before the drugs come into play, at least for me this is how it works. So my life was unmanageable because I was consuming myself with work and school. All I was doing was working and going to school; I was not doing anything for myself. I had no self love, in that moment in time I couldn't even tell my girlfriend what one thing was that I did for myself to show myself love. All I had on my mind day and night was “how can I get more”, more money, more fulfillment, more of this feeling that made me feel better about myself.
My girlfriend sat me down and had a long talk with me about her concerns of my behavior and what I was doing to myself and it wasn't until that moment that I even knew that I was being complacent or that my behavior had changed. This is how this disease works it's magic on me. It doesn't need drugs to make my life unmanageable. If I put down drugs, it will use my work. If stop working, it will use school. And if I stop going to school it will use something else. This disease won't stop until I'm dead, it wants my life.
After I finally acknowledged how bad of a place I was in and how unmanageable my life really was, I had to do something different. I started praying for help because I knew I could not do it alone. I began to go to more meetings and started sharing and telling people where I was at and how I felt. I started calling my sponsor and I started little by little to love myself again. I had to put some action behind this so that I could make a change because I can talk about getting up off the couch all day. But if I don't stand up, I'm still sitting on the couch. Actions are loud and words are quiet. At the end of the day what really matters, what I did or what I talked about doing?
I'm still working to find the right balance between being a father, being a good partner, being a student, being an addict in recovery, and basically working two jobs. Let's be honest, none of this is really about being complacent for me. It is about balance. If I find balance it will be much harder for my disease to creep back into my life. I'm writing this for the hope that my experience may help someone else. Maybe they are going through something similar and maybe this will help. Today, I'm going to trust that God has the power to help me and the knowledge to guide me. PLEASE help us in helping another addict in need. We need your help to help others. Buying one shirt could help us save one life. One shirt for one life. Until next time. This is Corey signing out.
I will never forget the first night I sat in detox during my first trip to rehab nearly 3 years ago. I was beaten down, I was broken, and I felt like my life was over. I was convinced that I would never have fun again and that the party was over. How was I ever going to have fun if I couldn’t drink alcohol or use drugs anymore? After all, drinking and drugging had been the entire focus of my social life for 10 years. I distinctly remember telling another patient, “I just can’t accept the fact that I’ll never get high again.”
A month later, I remember sitting in a lecture in the same rehab facility listening to a counselor talk about “avoiding your old playgrounds.” He said that we had to change EVERYTHING about ourselves if we were going to stay clean. New friends, new activities, and new environments were an absolute must. He even said that it was dangerous to go into old environments without using drugs because it was counter-productive to the recovery process and he used one of my favorite bands as an example, Widespread Panic. He recounted a story about a group of guys in recovery who went to a Panic show and even though they didn’t use, “scientific studies” showed that it negatively impacted centers in their brains that were attempting to repair themselves.
Thank God, I’ve found that not to be true in my own recovery.
I definitely see the point the counselor was trying to make. It definitely isn’t smart to continue hanging out with old friends who are still using drugs. That’s just common sense. It also isn’t smart to go into an environment where drug use and drinking are rampant without accountability because it’s much easier for others to drag us down than we want to believe sometimes. However, when we surround ourselves with positive influences, other people in recovery who are committed to staying clean and sober, anything is possible.
This weekend I had one of the best weekends of my life at the 15th annual Bonnaroo music festival. I have quite the history with Bonnaroo. In 2009, I went to Bonnaroo for the first time and I got waaaaay to messed up. I did copious amounts of drugs, I barely slept, I didn’t take care of myself, and I created a huge mess that caused major issues between me and my family for a long time. (To this day, my parents still cringe when they hear the word Bonnaroo.) Rumors went around that I had “lost my mind,” and in a lot of ways those “rumors” were true. I was completely out of control.
Fast forward 7 years later and I got to attend the same festival with some of my best friends in recovery, and we did things the right way. The smart way. Thankfully, I have met some awesome people in my journey who have shown me that I can still do the things I love while in recovery, as long as I do them the right way. To me, that means having accountability and support. I got to experience the Soberoo group, which is a non-profit organization that has a booth inside the festival providing clean and sober support around the clock should anyone feel shaky. They held guided meditations every morning and had 4 meetings a day right there amidst the craziness going on all around. Not once was I tempted to seek out a drink or a drug, and that is truly a miracle.
Sunday night during the Dead & Company show, I felt an immense feeling of gratitude at where life is at today. Once again, I had the realization that I don’t need drugs or alcohol to get by and have fun, and that those substances literally offer nothing positive to my life except the potential to destroy everything. It’s not worth it to jeopardize my family, my friends, my job, and so much more. It’s such an awesome feeling to know that I can still do the things that I love and that I don’t have to live my life in fear while trying to hide away from drugs and alcohol.
Everyday I was there, I called my parents to check in with them, just because I know that Bonnaroo is a tender subject for them. I knew it was important to them, and it’s important to me today to be conscious of my family after the way I caused them so much worry in the past. I sent my dad videos of the different shows we saw, and by the end of it, he was telling me that he was jealous and that maybe he wanted to go next year. That’s such a far cry from the way things were 7 years ago. I’m gonna hold you to it, Dad!
I share to give hope to the person out there who may feel the same way I did, that life in recovery can't be fun. That's part of our mission at krēd, living life and giving back. We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to recovery, but we do believe in changing the way we as a society talk about it. We are also committed to giving back and helping others. Early on, we tried to assign a numerical value to how we wanted to give back and we said "10% of all our merchandise sales will be given back to recovery." But in reality, it's been much more than that so we abandoned those arbitrary numerical values. Basically, when a need comes across our path, if we have the means to help out then we do it, even if it means coming out of our own pockets. Recently we looked at the numbers, and we have given away just as much money as we have done in sales. krēd has never been about the money, and I can assure you that we haven't made a dime of "profit." If you want to help support us in our mission, you can make a purchase from our online store. Every little bit helps, and we thank you for your support!
Also, we are very excited to be partnering with some other local organizations for a new charity event. The Jackson Terminal Acoustic Concert Series will bring some of the hottest names in country music to downtown Knoxville for special acoustic performances taking place on Sunday evenings this summer and fall. The first event is Sunday, June 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM. All proceeds benefit krēd and veteran's services at The Helen Ross McNabb Center. You can purchase tickets at the link below and we hope to see you there.
Anything Is Possible-
This past weekend I traveled to Illinois for Summer Camp Music Festival with some of my best friends. For those of you that know me, you know I love seeing live music more than anything else in the world. It always seems to rearrange my perspective on life and the things I may be struggling with at the time. Before I traveled, I was in a spot where I was getting annoyed with the tireless routine of daily life. It's easy to become ungrateful for all of the things I asked for when i first got clean. The job, house, relationships, responsibilities and even the bills.
One afternoon I spent some time by myself, away from the controlled chaos of seeing band after band. I found myself in a spot of meditation and had what I would consider a spiritual awakening. For a long time I used drugs to escape reality. My reality was not an enjoyable place to be. The false escape stopped working and I was miserable day in and day out, using drugs to not feel physically ill. The stress of life, even after staying clean for awhile, was giving me some of the same feelings of needing to escape. I realized that my reality these days is a wonderful place to be. There I was. Sitting in a field with people using drugs all around me, experiencing an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the ability to do what I love without the fear or desire to get high.
Recovery is everywhere. Even "in the strangest of places if you look at it right." Concerts aren't exactly a conducive environment for recovery. But through reaching out to people that have gone before me, I tapped into a source of strong recovery and a network of people that share a passion for music. I've been to 100's of shows since i've been clean and the best part is leaving at the end of the night knowing i didn't get high.
We want to lend a hand to the addicts still struggling because they don't think they can enjoy life after drugs. I know what that feels like because I have been there. Please reach out to us, support us and buy a shirt. Let us know how we can work together and reduce the stigma of addiction and recovery.
If you are reading this, you have probably been touched by the cold grips of addiction in some form or another: you are addicted, your family member is addicted, or perhaps your spouse or good friend has fallen into the endless cycle of addiction. Most of us probably know or love someone whose life has been been sucked into the black hole of addiction at one point. But the good news is not all of us cross the event horizon, the point of no return... there is a way to come back to the light.
We at krēd wish to carry the message of recovery to the world, to end the stigma associated with addiction, to bring hope to those who are lost. We are not a twelve step program; we are simply those who have wandered, been lost and have found our way again. We share our strength, experience and hope in hopes that we may guide another addict to recovery. Our families share their support and hope with other families affected by this dark disease. We can and do recover. Our brand of recovery at krēd is one that focuses on the balance of the mental, physical and spiritual.
The first thing you must know about addiction is that it IS a disease. Many of us have the belief that addiction is nothing more than a moral disorder: a lack of will power, a lack of ethics and caring. While selfishness and self-centeredness are at the heart of this disease, we must all understand that addiction is MUCH more than a lack of control caused by immorality. It is truly a disease of the mind.
Most, if not all of us, fall into addiction not knowing the peril that lies ahead. It simply starts out as a good time here and there - an escape from the stress of everyday life. Perhaps when we tried our first drug, we realized that we could get through our day a little easier or maybe we found we could fall asleep without the worries of the past and future racing through our heads as we lay in tumult in a bed that just never felt comfortable. Maybe we were running from something much darker and this drug offered a much needed break from the chaos within. We never knew that this temporary feeling would be our downfall.
First we used a few days out of the week. Then the days began to run together. We thought, "why not feel like this all the time?" Soon we were using throughout the day and into the night. We only began to realize something was not right when we ran out of our drugs. But even then, the desire to find more provided endless justification for why we should keep using. "You'll just get through tomorrow," or "you just need to make it through this week" were the words being whispered in our heads from an all too familiar voice. Or perhaps it came from the darker places, "this will numb the pain; this is how you survive." Whatever the endless reasons we found for using, use we did.
Then one day, we found we couldn’t score. It's happened before but this time something is wrong. Really wrong. The utterly torturous feeling of desperation begins to creep up inside ourselves. That gentle whisper gets louder and louder and LOUDER. Soon the only thing we can hear is that voice screaming, "MORE! MORE!" Our bodies become indescribably sick and we shake because we're so helplessly hooked that we literally need that substance just to exist. The thought of not having any more is not an option. We will do literally anything to get more. We will steal, rob, lie, cheat and sell ourselves just to get one more. One more.... one more. One more.
Once we finally get our fix, the screaming stops. In one pristine moment, everything is good again. But before we know it, that voice is back. We know we have a problem but that voice keeps telling us what we want to hear. It tells us, "you'll quit next week," or "you can stop, you just have to get through this little bump in life." We know these are lies but you see, our brains have been altered.
What makes us human, what makes us who we are as people: our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, our ability to think is all governed by neurotransmitters. The progressively more frequent use and increased doses had been slowly changing the way our brain functioned. We had been artificially adding the neurotransmitters that affect everything about us: our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, our ability to think. Soon, our brain could only function with the artificially induced neurotransmitters meaning we had literally, on a physiological level, become different people. We had truly become addicts. We could not think, feel or function without drugs. We had no choice. As breathing is necessary to every human's existence, so had drugs become necessary to our existence. We literally NEEDED drugs to survive. We did awful things to get what we needed. EVERY addict has or does carry shame and guilt about what their selfish, self-centered obsession wrought in their lives and the lives of those around them.
But, there is hope. There is a way to overcome this horrible disease we call addiction. There is recovery. One of the hardest parts for any family must be watching their loved ones go through this and not knowing what the outcome will be. Sadly, no one knows. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for why some people recover and others don't.
I sometimes wonder what made me want to quit and yet I still can't quite put my finger on it. At one point I had just had enough. I had relapsed in rehab and gotten discharged. I had nowhere to go and no hope... I was desperate. But as they sometimes say, desperation can be a gift because sometimes it takes us being desperate to finally choose life. I went to a halfway house and got plugged into a fellowship of recovering addicts. There are different forms and approaches to recovery and I took a Twelve Step approach, and it has worked wonders for me.
If you'd like to hear and see more about recovery and the truth about addiction, check our very own Chad Gibson’s story on WBIR.com here: Heroin Hits Home
We hope this short blog will have given you a little perspective on the addict and addiction itself. Always keep with you this one little thought: there is hope, people do recover.