I Am Your Disease: The Many Faces of Addiction

I Am Your Disease: The Many Faces of Addiction

by Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis

ISBN: 9781598006995

Publisher Outskirts Press

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This book is lovingly written and dedicated to bereaved parents everywhere, who have lost a child to the disease of addiction, to those who have lost their life to this horrible life-sucking disease, and to children and young adults everywhere who may be on the threshold of doing drugs. In these pages you will read the heartfelt memories and experiences of parents who have suffered the ultimate loss: The death of a child. It has been said that the death of a spouse is the loneliest experience, but the death of a child is the saddest. These stories are gripping, compelling, and brutally honest. (Please note that some names have been changed but the stories and events are accurate). Some stories are short because it is all the bereaved person was able to bring up out of their gut, and put to pen and paper, without being overwhelmed by grief in the retelling of their story. Other stories are longer because some of the bereaved just can’t stop when it comes to expressing their feelings about their lost child and/or the effects that the deaths have had on them. To some, writing their story and that of their child is cathartic and cleansing. To most, it is a very painful journey back in time that tears at their heart just to remember it, let alone to put it out there before everyone. It is the author’s fervent wish that young people will read this book, that our government representatives will read it, that parents, teachers, mental health professionals, the clergy, and especially people who think “not in my family,” will read it. In other words we want to get the word out to everyone because the disease of addiction affects us all, not just the addicted person and the addicted person’s family, but the very fabric of our society, our nation, and our world as a whole. The drug problem, and this includes alcohol, is pandemic. One has only to turn on the TV or radio or pick up the evening newspaper to find story after story of drug abuse, its dire consequences, and the futility experienced by everyone who tries to combat this scourge. The author has also invited middle school students to write their experiences and opinions of the pervasive drug problem. What our children have to say may surprise you, and open your eyes to how our children view drugs and life in general. The stories that follow are from people from all over our country, from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, different parenting techniques and philosophies, different life-styles, and different socioeconomic levels, all bonded together by one profound, life-altering experience; the devastating loss of a child. You will also hear from some of the deceased in the form of poems they have written, stories they have written, and their profound feelings that will reach out and grab your heart and twist it into a huge knot and cause a sadness that will not be denied. Our children must be told the truth about drugs. We cannot make up scary stories just to obtain a particular result. Children see through our lies, and will discount anything that we say if they have previously been lied to. Education will be our salvation. It is never too early to start an on-going dialogue with our children about drugs, but it can be too late! Kids, it’s never too late to talk to your parents about drugs. If you feel that you can’t talk to your parents, please find another responsible adult, perhaps a favorite uncle or aunt, or favorite teacher or even the parents of a good friend. Believe me, we can be a lot more understanding than you think. We have your best interests at heart when we beg you to never do drugs. We’ve been around a lot longer, and have seen and learned so much. We want you to live! We don’t want to watch you destroy your life and your future. Youth is fleeting. It’s a time of learning and experiencing, a time to prepare you for your future. There won’t be much of a future though if you destroy your youth with drugs. Ask an adult if they would like to be a young kid again. Chances are the answer will be a resounding No! As much as we extol the virtues and joys of childhood, the carefree, devil-may-care existence, the truth is that childhood can be very hard. You may feel that drugs are the way out of your unhappy existence. They are not. Ultimately, they will only add to your sadness. Whatever choices you make today will follow you long after you’ve left childhood like the ripples of a receding wave. A lot of bad choices can be undone and as adults we’re very thankful for that. Everybody makes mistakes in their life. However, some bad choices can never be undone; choices that lead to AIDS and drug addiction. I know you think that this can never happen to you! Let me tell you a little about the Addiction Gene. Scientific research is showing that there is indeed an addiction gene. How do you know if you have the gene? At this present time, there is only one way of knowing if you have the gene. Unfortunately, when you find out, it’s too late. You’re addicted! When you have pawned all of your possessions, sold everything you have, been kicked out of school, or dropped out, or have lost job after job, have lost what little self-esteem you had, had encounters with the police and judicial system, lied through your teeth to everyone, hurt the ones who love you the most, have stolen from everyone you could including your own family, and friends, have disregarded all of your moral training and values, have lost all interest in previously healthy, enjoyable activities, doing whatever you can to obtain your next high, then you are addicted! Perhaps not all of the above apply to you now. But most of them, if not all, will eventually define you. You will lie with impunity. You can steal the rings off your poor mother’s fingers and look her in the eyes and say no, it wasn’t you. You will no longer know truth from fiction. Your whole world will be dedicated to the next score. Nothing else will matter. That all-important high is all that matters in your life now. You are consumed by the dangerous quest for drugs and eventually the drugs will consume you. The drugs will have total power, and control of your life. There will be nothing that you can do to prevent this, nor will you want to. Any rational thought of leading a good, productive, clean life has been stolen from you by drugs. Drugs will mean more to you than your own parents or other loved ones or anything that you ever valued in life. Please pay close attention to the following narrative, “I Am Your Disease.” It is a composite of many drug addicts compiled by Heiko Ganzer, Psychotherapist, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Certified Addictions and Substance Abuse Counselor with Phoenix Psychotherapy. You can read more about Mr. Ganzer and his efforts to help addicted people by logging on to: To the parents of a child lost to addiction who are reading this book, I offer my heartfelt condolences. We suffer a double whammy. Not only do we suffer the loss of our child, we suffer the stigma from the community, of having lost a child to drugs. The “Not my child” parents and the “Well, if they had been raised properly none of this would have happened” parents, are ignorant of the facts of addiction. They don’t mean to deliberately hurt us. They just need to be educated that yes, this can happen even to their sweet, adorable children. This book is filled with stories of children with promise, children who were loved and nurtured by their parents and family and friends, bright, intelligent, kind, caring and compassionate children. You will read about their ordeals, their struggle to break free of the Addiction Monster. They are my children…your children…anybody’s children. “I AM YOUR DISEASE” BY: THE ANONYMOUS ADDICT Well, hello there! I cannot believe I have really been talked into doing this: Telling you about myself (which obviously you as clients either don’t know, or won’t accept). I am going to let you know how I operate; what my strategies are, how I win, (and I love to win!). My initial reaction was—Why should I disclose them to you? After thinking it over, it came to me that as usual, many people will read this and not consider this information anyway, so I have nothing to lose. I mean, what the heck. Why shouldn’t I divulge this stuff—who’s really gonna pay attention? After all, this information has been available for many years and only a few gave a damn about it. Heck, many people, even after reading this, will still foolishly continue to take me on “their” way (how this makes me chuckle). AA/NA/GA people try to tell them things; they won’t accept it. Professional counselors tell them these things; they won’t accept it, but OK, you want to hear the truth directly from the horse’s mouth? Read on. They teach you that I am a disease; (I snicker because many people won’t even accept that!). People fail to strongly impress upon you what kind of disease you are up against. Words like progressive, and insidious have little impact on you so let me tell you what I’m all about—I AM YOUR DEADLIEST ENEMY! I make AIDS look minuscule compared with the devastation I have caused and intend to continue to impact on humanity. I conduct my business of mutilation and destruction in a very business-like, highly productive, orderly manner that results in me being extremely successful! I have an insatiable desire to torture, maim and destroy. I am totally vicious! I am brutal! I have perfected my skills of deception to an art form! Early on, in the beginning of my attack on you, I can make myself almost invisible. I take you down ever so slowly and skillfully at first because I sure as heck don’t want you to become aware of me. That might frighten you away. I am the Master of Manipulation! As my progression becomes more visible, I most emphatically am not going to let your frustration and anger be directed at me. No, no, no! I tell you it’s the job, it’s your spouse, and it’s the kids. God forbid you should ever wise-up that it’s ME. So I have you lash out at the only people who really care about you. How I revel as I see you thrashing about throwing powder-puff punches at the world. I continually whisper outright lies in your ear and incredibly, you buy right into them. Remember when I told you “THIS TIME IT WILL BE ALRIGHT!” or “SURE YOU WENT OVERBOARD IN THE PAST, BUT THAT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN” and my all-time classic—“YOU CAN DO IT YOUR WAY. YOU DON’T NEED ANY HELP!” Each time I lie to you, and you listen to me, I betray you. Look at your track record chump! My paramount reason for being on this earth is to make certain you never achieve your full potential or enjoy the things you deserve. I see you start project after project, but I keep you from completing them so you rarely ever enjoy a feeling of accomplishment. I keep you chasing two rabbits at the same time and grin as I watch your dreams of tomorrow become unfulfilled promises of yesterday. With the young I damage your potential, destroy your initiative. What pleasure I get from stunting your emotional growth, and converting you into a “never-wuz.” With older people I remove the enjoyment of your autumn years, and make you into a “has-been.” I adore screwing up parents. Instead of you moving forward with your lives, I suck you dry with worry and concern about the fate of your kids. In the face of all logic, reasoning and just plain common sense, Mr./Mrs. Compulsivity, you keep listening to me, and your reward for foolishly doing this is that I BETRAY YOU AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN! Beginning to get the picture, Pal? I’m not exactly what you would call Mr. Nice Guy! I am a high-tech conversationalist! I just love to convert beautiful, sensitive, caring productive people into self-centered, omnipotent blood-sucking leeches who day-by-day drain their loved ones emotionally, physically, and financially. I give you selective hearing; so you hear only what I want you to hear! I give you tunnel vision; so you see what I want you to see! I roundly applaud myself as you begin to stumble through life as I prevent you from hearing and growing. How you delight me as you continually permit me to twist your thinking! By the way, pal-o-mine, I not only get a big boot out of messing you up, I am without peer when it comes to wrecking everyone who cares about you and whom you care about. I convince you, of course, that you are only hurting yourself, no one else! As things begin getting a little tackier (that’s called PROGRESSION), and unbelievably you still listen to me, I advance more rapidly within you. I cheer you on as you make emotional yo-yo’s out of those who still stand at your side. Of course, you mean all those wonderful promises you make to them like “NO MORE, NEVER AGAIN,” etc. I make damn sure you never carry them out by enticing you to have just one card game, one drink, one joint one line, or just make one little old bet. You’d better believe I don’t want you wising up to the fact that I am breaking the spirit of the other people in your life; that I am causing them TEN TIMES the amount of pain and sorrow that I’m dishing out to you. Under my influence—I grin when you say things you would not have said, I smile softly as you begin not doing things you should. I chuckle as I witness you doing things you never would have done, and I let out a real belly laugh as you begin doing unthinkable things that inflict horrible pain on those you love which now cause you even higher levels of guilt, remorse, and shame. I become ecstatic every time I witness those tears running down the faces of defenseless individuals and children who you are threatening and terrorizing (your very own spouse and kids). I must admit I am thrilled to my toes as I rip the very life out of the people around you. Get a load of this—the target that gives me the greatest satisfaction in destroying are YOUR KIDS! I am delighted by every opportunity to keep getting them so upset and off balance by what is going on that they do not stand a chance of growing up without being severely scarred. Look at the millions, yes millions, of untreated ACOA’s ACOG’s, I’ve got romping around this country all screwed up! How I chuckle when you say “YOU’LL DIE” IF YOU DRINK, BET OR USE AGAIN! First of all you know damn well you don’t really believe that, (just look at your past track record). I do not kill people; well, sometimes I do, but when that happens it really ticks me off; obviously I socked it to that person too hard. Heck, when they die, the games are over and I’ve got to find a new CHUMP to take their place. Hey baby, I’d rather keep playing with them; destroy them a little at a time. No, I do my damnedest not to kill you since I want you to live—miserable, wretchedly, horribly! One way I get my jollies is from being the world’s greatest collector. Didn’t know that, did you Pal? Got a warehouse the size of Africa! I happily take things away from you that rightfully belong to you. These are things that you have worked hard for, earned, and deserve. I laugh all the time; I rob you of them and store them so I can enjoy my thievery when things get a little dull. See, there’s John’s RESPECT over there; and Mary’s MORALITY. That’s what’s left of Frank’s HONOR, look at this, what a blast I had ripping away Helen’s INTEGRITY, and did I ever have a ball taking away young Bob’s ENTHUSIASM. How I savor fondling these trophies from my past and present robberies. Hey, get a load of all those jobs over there, how sweet it was grabbing them, and how about that pile of previously good marriages? Had a ball destroying them. Down there in that pit is where I keep active people’s SELF-ESTEEM. There’s Don’s FREEDOM (laughed like heck when they put him in the slammer). This pile of rubble makes me just shiver with ecstasy, don’t you recognize it? It used to be people’s CREDIBILITY. And here sweetheart is my most prized stolen possession. Yep that big steel cage is full of thousands of broken people, what a fantastic sight all of them stumbling around! Know what I stole from them? THEMSELVES. Certainly one of my award-winning traits is to steal away YOU! I have absolutely perfected my techniques for causing the process of self-abandonment. What I excel most at is taking you away from YOU! I’m also the unequaled master at converting things; early on I convert you into a procrastinator thus letting you build up unnecessary tension, and stress. I adore converting warm, caring people into self-centered, omnipotent jackasses, and bright, intelligent people into bumbling, fourteen carat idiots. I am the absolute Champion of Deception! I get one heck of a bang doing my Muhammed Ali “ROPA-DOPA” routine on you. I make believe you’ve got me whipped (that, CHUMP is called complacency) and when you let your guard down (start missing meetings) I beat the heck out of you again! How I applaud you and cheer you on each time you get into the fight ring with me again—Hurry, you fool! Love it when you keep coming at me with your right fist cocked; your big punch that you’re going to flatten me with. What a laugh! Of course I make sure you don’t get wise to the fact that I’m cutting your face to ribbons with my jabs. I let you ignore the blood running down your face from the cuts I’ve inflicted over your eyes that blind you even further. I go from grinning, to smirking, to belly-laughing as you stumble around throwing powder puff punches that achieve nothing except to further tire, frustrate, and anger you. Eventually I get quite bored by it all and deck you, and you, you fool, expect me to go to a neutral corner. Hey stupid, I know no honor; I abide by no rules; I am the dirtiest of the street fighters, and I thoroughly, totally, fully enjoy your suffering. How I relish the sight of you, a person of honor, struggling to get to your feet. I stand right next to you and as you get to your knees, I kick you right in the head before you can get to your feet again; (Maybe now you’ll understand why relapses are so devastating). I am extremely proficient at map-making. Didn’t know that either did you cupcake? I gleefully talk you into using and following MY map! Oh, to entice you I write on it destinations such as High; partying, excitement, etc., etc., etc. In truth they all lead but to one place: And it’s Heaven! You can be very sure, CHUMP, I will do everything possible to camouflage that from you until you have journeyed quite a long and destructive distance with me. How I thrill when I witness clinicians providing their clients with “Tools” to overcome me, and then you meet up with me on the front lines threatening me with your garden trowel. Hey hero don’t you see I have a tank and twenty crack ground troops? I will annihilate you, you poor simpleton! This is a war, not a garden party you are involved in and, something else you apparently don’t realize—I do not engage in this war alone! Only a fool would do that (like you do stupid). I, the super strategist, enlist the aid of my allies. The Dealers, the Casinos, Business Deals, Horses? My hired hit men! Your so-called “friends” are actually my “assassins.” Mess around with them and they will take you out of play, time after time, after time. I convince you that your hoopla pals in the gin mills and OTB parlors are your true-blue buddies. I sure as hell, make sure you don’t listen to the propaganda spoken by the people who care about you—perish the thought! I love to puff you up and feed into that big fat egotistical head of yours, the lie that you are in control—and incredibly you fall for that outright malarkey over, and over, and over again. Hey gigolo, hey pompous, the moment that you place one bet, CHUMP, one drink, CHUMP, one line CHUMP, one joint, CHUMP, you are a walking time bomb and you’re gonna go boom! Heaven forbid you should ever look at your lousy track record for if you ever did it would become exceedingly clear what a swollen-headed prominent, superb ignoramus I am making out of you! Dear me, that does sound a bit sarcastic now doesn’t it? Well, you can bet your tush I meant it to be! Hey c’mon, I always give you what you ask me to—numb out your trouble! You don’t really expect me to tell you about the consequences do you? Hey brother, hey sister, what do you expect of me? Surely not to tell you that with each relapse the price is getting a hell of a lot steeper. That the IOU’s are piling up and that each time I numb out what is bothering you, I also automatically numb out your access to your intelligence, your logic, and your upbringing. When you are overcome with remorse, guilt, shame, and anxiety, then you poor fool I tell you my favorite lie. The lie that I can fix all that stuff too so you fall for it and drink or gamble some more and the whirlpool of your addiction now progresses ever faster and deeper. Beginning to get the picture honeybunch? I’m not exactly Mr. Nice Guy or Ms. Friendly! I’ll bet you didn’t realize that I sit in on every group therapy session, every one-to-one counseling session every AA/NA/GA or GAMANON meeting. How I love the “counselor-pleaser” type, the “clam-upper.” I could just kiss the “I don’t give a damner,” and the “liar” sends chills up and down my spine as I’ll be able to grind their faces into the dirt in short order with very little effort needed on my part. FINAL TIDBITS: I convince you, you are only hurting yourself—and then relish every tortured moment that you dish out to those who love you. I whisper deliciously destructive lies into your ear in a most convincing manner. Lies like “they’ll never fire you,” and of course I go into ecstasy when I witness the shame for you and your family. It gives me goose bumps when I convince you you’ll never be arrested as your future grinds to a halt when you see the flashing lights of a cop’s car at your home, or the Feds at the front door! I howl with delight when your bookie or loan shark calls in his bets and you don’t have a dime to your name! Just break an arm or slam that hand! Well, Sweetie Pies, I’ve told you some of my secrets; told you some of my strategies, shared some of my attack plans. Of course, I’m banking on many of you not listening to what I’ve told you, or thinking it was hogwash and dribble. I intend to capitalize on that and convert you into a CHUMP again—CHUMP! So long for now, you gorgeous active person you! Of course we shall meet again—and again! I’m looking forward to that! And for those of you in early recovery, Au revoir---certainly not so long, you’re doing real good kids!
Excerpted from "I Am Your Disease: The Many Faces of Addiction" by Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis. Copyright © 0 by Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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