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Sometimes, when life is going swimmingly and everything is all right with the world I struggle to understand why anyone takes drugs. I especially cannot imagine why anyone who has been to hell and back through addiction would ever pick them back up again. You know what it’s like both sides of the line and you know that it is infinitly better on the drug free side.

And then something will happen, it may be something catastrophic, or it might be one small thing, that, pulled on top of all the other small things just makes you forget the negatives. And you remember why. It’s like a switch in the brain that wipes the times you just wanted to die because you’d had enough of addiction, the craving, of being sick and tired. It erases the feelings of withdrawal and the constant nagging that used to sit in your gut wondering where you were going to get your next hit from, and it is like someone got a highlighter pen, or hit “control+B” to emboldened only the memories of the good parts and greyed out the bad.

You remember the way that the skin pushed against the tip of the needle as you gently pushed it against the vein underneath. The push of resistance before it pierces the life of you. You remember the colour and rush of the blood as it forms a cyclone as you hit the right spot, drawing it into the barrel of the syringe. It’s almost branded on your brain; the feeling of anticipation as you move to push back plunger. As you turn the tide of the blood and begin to push the golden brown liquid into your body. Knowing, as only an addict can know the nothingness that will inevitably, slowly, if only temporarily, come.

Because every addict I’ve ever known has been someone who felt too deeply; who struggles to manage their own emotions. That’s one of the reasons they ended up addicted. The pull of absolution promised by the release from the struggles of life, is sometimes more than they can bear. So they turn back to the needle, to the quietness that they crave. To the almost irresistible feeling of momentary peace.

How many people can honestly say that they’ve never just wanted the world to go away and leave them the hell alone?

To know that you can not feel confused, scared, an emotional and physical wreck, and instead feel nothing is a hard knowledge to live with, because who wouldn’t, addict or not, occasionally just want release from all the pain stress and heartbreak of real life. As an addict you know better than anyone that that release is available. And that, unlike a lot of other solutions, it works. Once you know it’s possible, there’s nothing stopping you apart from fear of going back to addiction. And when you feel confused enough to be considering using, you probably aren’t in the right frame of mind to think that far ahead. You forget that one hit is too many and at the same time will never be enough.

So occasionally, not using, even after years of recovery, can be a life or death battle. And sometimes people don’t win it.

I’ve always been lucky enough to have people to pull me back from the brink. Who I can turn to to unload before I get to the stage that I’ve wiped out the memories of addiction and replaced them with thoughts of oblivion. And I’ve always managed to speak to them before I walked off the edge. Not everyone is that blessed.

So before you judge someone for relapsing, for turning back to drugs and all the turmoil that ensues, imagine that at your very lowest; if someone offered you a temporary release from all your problems, would you consider it? If only momentarily?

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