Keep choosing recovery: the things that motivate me to stay sober as an autistic addict

Recovery from addiction is complicated. It challenges those of us experiencing it every day. Even now, approaching five years of sobriety, I fight a daily battle with a mind that seeks self-destruction.

My mind tells me that I miss drinking and taking drugs. It turns my memories into a sort of twisted nostalgia, blotting out the ugly truth in favour of memories of good times with my friends.

So what motivates me to keep choosing recovery?

The simple answer is that I am terrified of dying. I know that my addiction very nearly took my life, and even now I live with the health consequences of the damage that I did to my body.

No amount of nostalgia or mental gymnastics can take away the memory of emergency departments and resuscitation rooms. I still remember having to walk with a stick because my body was too weak to prop itself up.

I will never forget the month I was locked on a psychiatric ward, withdrawing from benzodiazepines.

However, beyond that there are other things that keep me motivated. One of the strongest protective factors for my recovery is the autistic community.

While being autistic made my addiction immeasurably complex, it is now an asset, and that is thanks to this community.

Through my writing, I have found a purpose. To be the person that I needed when I was younger. I owe it to the other autistic addicts potentially reading my work to stay sober. I can not fail them. It’s not an option.

Another protective factor is the people that I love and care for. I put them through hell with my addiction, and I can’t do that to them again; as time has gone on I have met new people that I love and care for. I don’t want them to see me in the chaos.

The final (and probably the biggest) factor is me. I owe it to myself not to go back there. I have created a life where it is easier not to drink and use, and I did that for me.

I deserve to be happy and healthy. I deserve to have good relationships. I deserve to have a purpose in life, and I say the same of all my fellow addicts.

No one chooses a life of addiction. It is usually (if not always) the result of years of trauma. As addicts we must work together to overcome that trauma and create a world where we don’t feel the pressure to return to old behaviours.

Every addict finds different reasons to stay in recovery. They are all valid.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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