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Wait, ”gift?” How in the world can something like addiction or alcoholism be a gift? Sure, drug and alcohol treatment qualifies, but the disease itself? How could that possibly be a good thing?

Keep in mind, I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who has been in recovery for near nine years. It is a different perspective from those who are in the midst of their disease, or those who are new to recovery in general. It is a perspective earned through trial by fire. Last night, a friend of mine visited last night who has been struggling to find recovery from opiate addiction for several years now. She is very newly clean and sober. I hadn’t spoken with her for about four months, so she told my girlfriend and I what she had been up to since that time. It was at this point that I realized just how valuable the gift of addiction is, because as she was telling us some of the things that had happened, my girlfriend and I were able to listen with compassion and understanding to the trials and tribulations that she had endured since we last spoke.

It is a beautiful saying, and it gives hope not only to those in need, but to those who have walked the path of embers, for we are uniquely qualified to provide help and solace to those struggling with issues you’ll find in any OC detox. Any other person who hadn’t had a similar experience probably would have looked down, judged, or otherwise raised their noses at the anecdotes my friend shared, but as addicts and alcoholics in recovery, my girlfriend and I were able to listen with compassion, understanding, and even identify with a lot of what she shared. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has one of my favorite all-time quotes, and that is, as alcoholics and addicts, our “dark past is the greatest possession [we] have–the key to life and happiness for others. With it, [we] can avert misery and death for them.”

When our friend shared her experience, I can tell you without hesitation, the last thing I was about to do last night was try to find a dope connection. That symbiotic relationship shared between both the newcomer and the old-timer allows both to keep the gift that they have received, and for many addicts and alcoholics in our area, myself included, that journey began in an OC drug rehab. It was a gift I never wanted, but as I look back, I’m eternally grateful that I was fortunate enough to be the recipient–at least for now. I have no illusions that I’m guaranteed sobriety and recovery for the rest of my days, but I hope that turns out to be the case. The marvelous thing about the gift though, is that the more you give it away, the more likely you are to keep it. Is it counter-intuitive? Absolutely, but it also one-hundred percent true.

That friend is enduring some very difficult times. She is now homeless after her mother kicked her out of her house following her discharge from the OC detox she went through. She lost two of her three jobs, one of which was her own business, due to her disease. She’s still trying to shake the physical effects of opiate addiction and crystal meth addiction. No one can ever tell the future, especially when it comes to addicts and alcoholics. So long as they still breathe, there’s always the hope that they’ll find recovery. It’s a long road ahead, but like all addicts and alcoholics, she’s a tough cookie, and I’ll be praying for her to stay.

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