To the opioid addict

Four to five people are dying from opioid overdoses every day in Massachusetts, which is completely unnecessary, as opioid overdose is totally and completely preventable. The logic is incontrovertible: If you don’t do the drugs, they won’t kill you!

If you want to recover from opioid addiction, you must take the bull by the horns and make it happen yourself. It is your responsibility to accept that you have a problem and do something about it. If you think that someone or something beyond yourself is going to save you, you’re signing your own death warrant.

There is really no such thing as an “opioid epidemic.” What does exist is an epidemic of destructive human behavior. And addiction is behavior, one that is driven by the choices you make. Every time you put a needle in your arm, or swallow a pill, you are making a choice. The key to recovery is to learn to make better choices in regards to substances.

The first step is to stop making excuses. The only cause of your addiction is YOU. It’s not your parents. It’s not your boss or your job-related stress. It’s not what your uncle did to you when you were 5 years old. It’s not the difficult circumstances, past and present, in which you find yourself. Even genetics – although possibly playing a role according to research – do not cause you to do drugs.

Recovery begins with personal responsibility. The treatment center is not going to fix you. Your doctor is not going to fix you. Your sponsor, if you’re in a 12-step group, is not going to fix you. Even substance abuse counselors such as myself cannot fix you. We can give you the tools you need to stop using drugs and engage in recovery. But after that, recovery is like that Home Depot commercial: You can do it, we can help.

As a cognitive behavior therapist, let me tell you that the process begins with fixing your thinking. You’ve probably told yourself that you “need” drugs. That you “can’t stand” withdrawal symptoms. That you are “powerless” over your behavior. All of that is irrational, and will only keep you enslaved to your addictive behavior. Start to eliminate all of that white noise in your head, and replace it with a positive affirmation: “I can do this!”

So, my hope is that you set yourself free. You do not have to become yet another overdose statistic, or wind up in prison because of your addiction.

Remember that old T-shirt from the 1980s? “Just Do It!”