An Open Letter to a Substance Abuser


I am a treatment provider.  I’ve seen way too much suffering that resulted from substance abuse and I have no doubt that recovery is valuable and that a life lived through sobriety provides benefits that far outweigh the cloud of continuing to use.  But, here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what I think.

There are dozens of ways to achieve lasting recovery, but if recovery doesn’t mean anything to you, none of them will work.  If I believe that you’re capable of getting clean and achieving sobriety, but if you don’t believe, there’s not much I or anyone can do.  I can give you all the information in the world, but if you don’t choose sobriety for your own good, then you might as well burn this letter.

Look, I’m sure you’ve let down a bunch of people and I’m sure you think it’s impossible to rid yourself of your drug.  I’m sure your “connect” or your “friends” keep you using and don’t make it easy to get clean and sober.  I’m even willing to bet that you’ve tried to get away from your drug; the hustle gets old, I’m sure, and I have no doubt that you’re tired.  Really, if even a small part of you wants to reclaim your life, you can get clean.

Think about it: What would a clean life mean to you? Wouldn’t it be great to wake up and not need to fix before doing anything else?  Wouldn’t it feel awesome to have someone trust you again?  Face it, you’ve lost a lot to your drug, whatever it is, and I can bet you’d like to get some of your relationships back. Wouldn’t you?  It may seem stupid, but write down a few things that “recovery” means to you.  Write your thoughts and feelings about the people you’ve lost contact with; would it mean something to stand straight in their eyes?

Try this: Write down one positive and healthy thing you can do today and then do it.  I bet you’ll feel better about your situation in life, if even just a little bit.  You can build on that positive energy.  But, again, it doesn’t matter what I say if recovery means nothing to you.

If you’re in treatment, but would prefer not to be: Leave.  Give up your spot for someone who actually wants to live a healthier life. I don’t judge, but iI do know that substances are wrecking your body, whether you realize it or not.  If you aren’t in recovery by your own choice and desire, please let me and others like me be useful to someone who chooses recovery.  If you’re in recovery because your wife says you have to be, or your boss commanded it, either learn to appreciate recovery for your own reasons, or give up your spot.

Recovery means life, to me.  I KNOW that substances cloud and addiction kills.  But regardless of what I think or feel, recovery only matters if you want it to matter.  You will suffer and eventually die a lonely death from your substance abuse, but if that doesn’t matter to you, then why the hell should it matter to me?