Addiction is real and it is powerful

9 years ago

To the editor:

I am writing today in regards to the substance abuse problem that plagues our community, with the hopes that our community will come together and combat this problem. Certain citizens of Houlton and the surrounding areas have fallen victim to the disease of addiction.

Addiction, like many other diseases, is treatable. Some would say that it is incurable, some would even argue that it isn’t a disease at all. I say it is, but that’s not my battle. All I can say for sure is that I am an addict that is grateful to be in recovery.

Amphetamines were my drug of choice, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t settle for anything I could get my hands on. I’ve had my bouts with just about every type of drug out there. I started at a young age. I was 15 when I first smoked marijuana and took my first drink of alcohol. It wasn’t long after that when I started abusing prescription painkillers, nerve pills, hallucinogens, meth, and most recently, bath salts. Throughout it all, my life became unmanageable.

Today, I am 32 years old and serving a 30-month prison sentence for unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs. This prison sentence is my third and I am working hard on myself to make it my last. My addiction, like many others’, is responsible for bringing me to prison every time. It drops me off at the gate and it waits for me in the parking lot. While it is waiting, my addiction is doing push-ups and jumping-jacks and getting stronger and stronger with every tick of the clock. When I finally walk out of these gates it will be there with open arms, because it wasn’t enough for me to have gone to prison three times — my addiction wants me dead. But I, myself, am getting stronger every day.

This time, I did things different. I chose to get treatment and I am learning the skills I need to live in a life of recovery. I consider myself fortunate today to be alive and I consider myself fortunate to have a release date. I was very reckless with my life in addiction, and if I was allowed to continue with the lifestyle I was living there’s no doubt in my mind that I would be dead or, even worse, responsible for somebody else’s life.

The purpose of this letter is to help spread awareness of the disease of addiction. It is real and it is powerful. Addiction is not racist nor prejudiced. It doesn’t care if you are young or old, rich or poor. The drugs that are available today are getting stronger and, depending on where you live, the prices are going down and they are more readily available.

But the good news is that help is out there. All you have to do is ask for it. There are fellowships that are eager to help the still-suffering addict or alcoholic. There are many different counseling agencies with highly qualified counselors who would work very diligently with you to get your life back on track. Also, throughout the state there are many different treatment centers dedicated to recovery.

In closing, I implore the government official who might be reading this letter to take a proactive stance on the disease of addiction by collaborating with the communities that are affected by substance abuse and making it easier to get help for those who want it.

For the addict who may be reading this letter, don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out for help. You’re not alone and you don’t have to go through it alone. The end result of active addiction is always the same: jails, institutions and death.

James C. Boyce
Maine Correctional Center