A moment of temptation: Overcoming a mind that seeks to destroy itself

I have written a lot about making the decision to seek sobriety. What I haven’t talked about is the moment when I realised I was in this for the long haul.

Roughly three years ago, I had an accident. I can’t really remember the details of the accident, but it appeared that I had fractured my wrist. I went to my local accident and emergency department at the hospital.

While being triaged I went through the usual song and dance that I think many addicts go through. This entails explaining to doctors and nurses that I can’t take opioid pain medication. This usually gets followed with a brief summary of my story, and a congratulations from the medical staff for finding sobriety.

This, usually, protects me from being offered anything that could trigger my addictive behaviour. This particular evening, it did not.

During triage they established that I was in significant discomfort with my wrist, and offered to get me some pain relief. Having explained my history to them, I assumed this would be paracetamol (Tylenol to me american readers) or ibuprofen.

The burse came to me and handed me to white circular pills. She walked away.

Thank goodness I looked at what was in my hand, because I immediately recognised them as dihydrocodeine. A moderately strong opioid that I had a long history of abuse with.

I was faced with a dilemma. These pills had been handed to me. I could pretend that I didn’t realise what they were and take them. I would probably have been able to get away with it. After all, this was the hospital’s mistake, right?

I really wanted to take them. I sat and stared at them for what felt like an eternity. Imagining the gentle feeling of euphoria and calm that I could so easily have if I just swallowed these pills.

A second thought crossed my mind.

I saw my family gathered around my coffin at my funeral. I saw my mother, sister, friends, heartbroken that I had given into my addiction. I remembered the years of pain and suffering that drugs had brought me.

Every moment of trauma came flooding back.

I pressed the alarm and called the nurse. She took the pills and apologised for the mix up. I said nothing of the temptation that I had experienced.

This was the moment when I realised that if I wanted to stay sober, I could never ease up in my dedication to that cause. Sobriety as an addict requires hard work and commitment to growth.

I look back at that moment now as a proud one, albeit somewhat painful to remember.

I do believe my autistic mind helped in that situation. My ability to replay memories with startling precision, and my strong sense of right and wrong, guided me to the right decision.

Addiction is a lifelong condition, and it doesn’t go away just because you stop using. You will battle with this state of mind for the rest of your life. But it can and does get easier. Everyday, you work towards creating a life where it is easier not to use.

I live today surrounded by love and beauty. I owe that to myself for growing beyond the confines of my addicted mind.

The work is hard, but I promise you it is worth it.

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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