Police Psychology | Rising from the Chains of Addiction
Guest Blogger — Law Enforcement Officer’s Child
(name redacted for potential of negative future consequences)
The Little Blue Pill. An instrument of healing that leads to drowning. My first experience with Oxycontin was gleefully numbing and chemically satisfying. It served its purpose: diverting pain until the next dose. Small yet powerful, the little blue pill led to a life of murdered motivation, crippling dependence and cunning denial. Consumption induces euphoria, sedation, itchiness and drowsiness so the bottle says, yet the side-effects not listed on the bottle are much farther-reaching. These slow assassins can be bought on the street or delightfully delivered by a pharmacist. I spent time, money, energy and shed my dreams in favor of the twisted comfort of Oxycontin. Addiction is a physical and mental manifestation of chemical dependence, which may well lead to a vicious cycle of denial and self-destruction. My progression was slow, until it wasn’t. Lying to myself and others was the first step down the dark corridor of addiction. Then came the cheating, stealing and desperation. My story is one of despair and rapid deterioration.
The problems in my life stacked up high. I couldn’t face challenges in my relationships, platonic or romantic, I couldn’t find the motivation to chase my dreams, I couldn’t see the slow decline in my health and most of all I couldn’t see a way out. Opiates had taken the wheel. I was driving on autopilot deeper into a slow and lonely existence. I am the son of a corrections officer and they had a psychological service that saw all law enforcement families. Eventually, I agreed to see a psychologist to get my family off my back. He called himself a police psychologist.
Over the first few weeks, I explained in detail all of my ailments, psychological and otherwise, mostly blaming my parents and friends for all the bad in my life. I decided to leave my relationship with pills out of the discussions because I saw them more as the solution than the problem. Fear, denial and pain fueled the desire to hide my habit. When we finally reached the subject, I was verbally combative and the suggestion of rehab made me laugh. Rehab was for people with a problem! Over the following appointments, laughing turned to anger as I demanded answers for my unmanageable life. I wanted to know “Why me?” I didn’t like the answer: “It’s the drugs, Brian.” In a moment of vulnerability, the psychologist hit me with the truth: I was destroying my life and on the road to being a life-long loser. I walked out of his office vowing never to go back. By the time I sat down in my car, I remembered being restrained in a jail cell when I was arrested for spray painting a Handy Pantry with my “tag.” I thought about the alternative high school I was in instead of regular school, and barely graduating with the people I grew up with. I thought about giving up in community college and that statistics class where I couldn’t even spell statistics. I wasn’t becoming a loser, I was there already. At that moment, for some reason, I believed him. I turned around and walked back in.
Marworth, the renowned chemical and alcohol dependency treatment center was swiftly put on the line in his office. Although I was filled with fear and anxiety, I consoled myself by focusing on what I’d been told: 28 days in rehab would change my life. I took that first step. I reserved a bed for a few days after Christmas. Christmas morning of 2010, I woke up vomiting from a pill induced sickness the night before. The pained look in my parent’s eyes still haunts me today. Their baby boy was killing himself and they placed their hope in a police psychologist’s recommendation.
I still remember the smell of the lobby and the kind voice leading me inside the medical wing of the rehab when I finally arrived. I felt a strange sense of surrender when I settled in. I didn’t have to fight anymore and I was in a safe place. I was 18 years old at the time and my roommate was a New York cop in his mid-30s. He suffered a back injury while chasing and struggling with a robbery suspect a few years back. The doctor prescribed Vicodin which, as we both agreed, was the beginning of the end for him too. We chatted late night about our jam packed schedules at Marworth. We chatted about life. He made me better and I him. My mind was a sponge the entire time. I quickly developed a strong interest in what our counselors and other Marworth professionals were teaching.
The “disease” of addiction was something entirely new to me and it made sense. My behaviors, patterns of thinking and strong desire for drugs were all explained through daily workshops. We participated in group and individual therapy. I was hungry to learn more about myself and I put pen to paper in order to capture the progress. I felt the strength in my soul and the passion in my heart rise above the darkness that addiction brought me. A sharp focus on the rewards of recovery kept me going, but I was troubled by one thing: I was going to be a recovering addict for the rest of my life. Bill, my counselor at Marworth, helped me face the fact that I couldn’t control my use of a drink or drug at all, ever. I thought: “When my life is together and I feel good, I can have a drink or smoke a little weed.” The disease of addiction was firmly embedded in my mind. Addiction is defined greatest by one concept: “one is too many and a thousand is never enough.” Each time I experienced the artificial pleasures of substance, my brain reacted in a way different than other people. I craved more. I held onto drugs as a way to control my pain and to mediate my thoughts and emotions. I left Marworth with specific instructions and I followed them as prescribed by the experts. If I wanted to be successful, I would not take a drink or a drug no matter what. I had to connect with others who have the same disease as me and I had to work with an experienced recovering addict or alcoholic to build my strength against the disease.
I struggled to adapt to a new environment without the little blue pill. Getting off drugs was not the panacea I was being promised in rehab, it was a start. I went to Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and went back to the police psychologist, but I still had to work like a dog to get even the first step. NA kept me grounded and gave me friends with the same problem I had. The police psychologist saw me sometimes three times a week. He taught me how to read a book in two hours, he wrote papers with me, at first 90% his writing but he slowly weaned me off this dependence. When I all but failed a speech in my communications class, he taught me how to speak, and take on the world when on stage. He gave me books about success and networking, and other stuff I had just not been aware of. How is it psychology to write a paper about a cathedral, but it worked? I never got even a “B” in my community college after leaving rehab and graduated top of my class. I received a scholarship to a four-year school from a speech where I literally blew the other students off the stage. And I went to one of the top business schools in the country after, a place I never imagined I would get into. I have since graduated from there, studied in Spain and a semester in China, had an internship with one of the top marketing firms in the world, had an internship with one of the top accounting/consulting firms in the world, and I start work for this last company in June.
My life as a drug addict was small, dark and lonely. I am now clean, surrounded by people who love me and want to help me in my recovery and I have achieved previously unimaginable success. If I wasn’t the son of a law enforcement officer, I might not be alive today. The law enforcement community saved my life and helped my family recover from years of trauma caused by my addiction. Chalk up one vote for the good work you do and I wanted your followers to know: sometimes, when someone upsets you, you have to turn around and walk back in.
Blog Administrator: Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
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