Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to abuse and addiction or even be a gateway to drugs. Alcohol use leads to 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost. Each year between 2006 and 2010, it claimed the lives of 1 in 10 individuals between ages 20 and 64. The cost of excessive alcohol use in 2010 was $249 billion, which means people spent approximately $2.05 per drink.
Opioid abuse is a growing problem in the United States and has now attracted national attention. In 2016, 116 people died daily from opioid overdoses – 11.5 million individuals misused prescription opioids (Percocet, Norco, Roxicodone, Lortab, MS Contin, etc.) and 948,000 people used heroin. The total cost of opioid–related issues was $504 billion! I’m no economist, but that price could potentially wipe out hunger and poverty in the United States!
Let’s clarify some terminology:
Alcohol/Drug Abuse: Use leads to neglect of work or family responsibilities, legal issues, conflicts with others.
Alcohol/Drug Dependency: One has a strong craving/desire to drink/use, without the ability to control the desire, increased tolerance (needing more to get the same high) and withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol/Drug Addiction: Alcohol use becomes the main point of a person’s being and he or she will do anything to have another high, no matter the harm it causes to herself, family or friends.
Sherry’s Testimony, God’s Glory
Sherry Todd used alcohol and opioids. She first started with binge drinking on the weekends (having a large number of drinks in one sitting). She believes that it was a tragic moment in her life that pushed her to move from alcohol use to heroin. Sherry had just gotten off work and was waiting at the bus stop. She was taken by a group of men, drugged, and raped. She had no recollection of the events surrounding the tragedy as she woke up in the Emergency Department with people surrounding her to perform a rape kit. Sadly, she later found that she was infected with HIV from that encounter. She remembers that the emotional strife she felt is what lead her to accept her “so-called” friend’s offer to start snorting heroin. She says, “I thought the person was my friend, but friends don’t introduce you to do things that are harmful”.
Sherry continued to use heroin “because [she] was trying to cover the pain from being raped”. Later, her body began to feel and function differently.
“I noticed that I was addicted when my body needed it (heroin) to feel normal”, she explains. It took two years for her to come to this realization. Meanwhile, she calculates that she spent $14,600 on Heroin. Her addiction caused her to miss out on her children’s activities and work and family responsibilities. She also remembers lying, cheating, manipulating others, and having sex to obtain heroin.
Sherry overcame her heroin addiction 2007 but started using again after her close uncle passed away. In retrospect, she recollects, “Every time something emotionally painful happens in my life, I use heroin to cover my feelings”. This time, she went through the same mishaps and missed out on her grandchildren’s activities.
The Turning Point
Several things contributed to Sherry’s decision to stop snorting heroin permanently. Her physical appearance was an embarrassment. “My face was darker than my hair and I looked like a skeleton”. She weighed 68 pounds, the weight of an eight-year- old child. “I used to wear 3 pair of pants and two coats just to fit in”. The final straw was when her grandmother passed away.
She desired to snort heroin to cover her feelings, but none was available. She remembers, “I was praying to God for help and it was by the grace of God that my daughter knocked on my door”. Her daughter called many times and she did not answer. She drove from another state to pick her up and take her to her grandmother’s funeral. “I went to
Sherry went to an inpatient rehabilitation program for three months. Withdrawal was “not a good feeling, that’s for sure”. Hot and cold flashes, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, achy bones and inability to eat…she experienced it all. The guilt was even worse as she felt that “I wasn’t good enough for Him (God)”. Currently, Sherry has gone through three rehab programs and she attends Narcotics Anonymous twice per week. February 2, 2018 was Sherry’s one year sobriety anniversary. She is proud that she now weighs 126.4lbs and her HIV is not-detected because she takes her medications consistently. To help her maintain she writes poetry to express her current or past feelings and
she states, “I do things to make me happy and I stay away from people that make me want to use drugs or alcohol again”.
Words from the Wise Q and A
What advice would give a person who is trying to overcome an addiction? First of all, they have to be honest with themselves. The devil is taking names and spitting them out. Let someone know what’s going on with you so that you can get help.If you don’t have someone, there are several of hotlines that are open 24 hours per day.
What would you tell someone who is addicted, but doesn’t realize it? When your body starts shutting down and your body doesn’t work like it did before starting drugs, you’re addicted. When you start lying, cheating, stealing and manipulating to get the drugs, you’re addicted and you need help. It is well noted that drug and alcohol addiction is a multi-faceted medical condition that requires a multidisciplinary treatment plan for survival. If you or someone you know is faced with alcohol or drug addiction, contact your doctor, attend an Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous class or call a treatment specialist 24/7 at 844-558- 4422.
Finally, Sherry was grateful to share to her testimony as she hopes that it will help others in need. Let’s keep her in our prayers for her continued sobriety and bravery.
Until next time, each one, teach one…
m: Resources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services and healthline.*