The Ego and The Addict
By Kyle Swanson
We are egotistical with an inferiority complex. We are your friends, neighbors, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, co-workers and bosses. We are everywhere. Sometimes it goes unnoticed, other times it is obvious. Sometimes we have control, sometimes it has control over us. We are drug addicts. We are complex people who require a simple solution - to stop using drugs. The ego is an interesting subject when it comes to the drug addict. I believe controlling our ego is a common problem for drug addicts. The role of our ego is often an overlooked factor when dealing with the plague of addiction. I always let my ego get in the way when it came to drugs. I had to learn to let go of it in order to truly be free.
My Name Is…
As kids in school, we are often asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Never in my life would I have thought I would end up being a drug addict. Nobody wakes up one day and decides they are going to be a drug addict. There are so many varying factors that lead people of all walks of life down the dark path of addiction. Addiction can happen over time or it can happen so fast. Never once in my life did I think I would be sitting in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, saying the words, “My name is Kyle and I’m an addict.” Before I entered a medication assisted treatment program and Narcotics Anonymous, my ego was too large to accept I had a drug problem.
The Ego and The Addict
I tried to make myself appear tough, strong and hardcore on the outside but I was dying on the inside...I just did not realize it throughout my addiction. I was mentally, spiritually and emotionally fragile but my ego refused to show it. I thought the only way to live my life was in the fast lane. I lived my life similar to a video game- no rules, no laws and anything goes. I thought I was invincible. My ego never allowed me to see that in reality, I only had this one chance to live. I would manipulate, lie, cheat and steal to get whatever I wanted. If you had something I wanted, I would always find a way to get it, whether it was money, drugs or sex. I thought the whole world revolved around me and my actions held no consequences. I lived my life recklessly and carefree. My ego did not allow me to see how I was in the wrong. I had to lose everything, including my ego, in order to gain everything.
Shedding The Ego
My ego and addiction did nothing but burn bridges that I had taken for granted. I lost friends, family, girlfriends and especially myself. Nobody trusted me. Nobody wanted me. Could I really blame them? I suppose a reality check and a spiritual awakening throughout my fifteen years of addiction was inevitable. I was stuck in limbo between life and death. A little voice in me told me to keep going, to give myself a chance. I thought death was the only way out until my family reached out and offered to get me into treatment. Some may not be as fortunate as I was. I had reached a point to where I had to swallow my pride, stop the tough guy act and admit that I needed help. I always needed help. I just failed to realize or accept it. My ego refused to accept it.
The Real Me
As an early teenager, I did volunteer work with my mother for the hospital she worked at every summer. My first job out of high school was at the hospital. I was a transporter for the heart clinic wing. I was a loving, caring person. I was okay with who I was. Somewhere down that dark path of addiction, I lost myself, as many of us do...or maybe we just forget who we were. My family always told me that I sold myself short, that I was capable of doing more and being more. I never believed them because I did not believe in myself. I gave up when life showed up, whether it was in college or working another dead-end job. I dropped out of college three times. I lost many jobs because I either partied too much or just could not appreciate the fact that I even had a job. My ego was content with partying and using drugs until it wasn’t even fun anymore...or until I was dead.
I had no idea who I was without drugs. I felt the need to change and become a chameleon in order to fit in so much that I forgot who I really was. After I got through treatment, I joined Narcotics Anonymous and started working the 12 steps. I had to let go of my ego and let a higher power take control. The longer I have been clean, the more clarity, knowledge and wisdom I gain. I remember who I was before my ego and addiction took control. I no longer live a life of lies. I no longer have to wear a mask to try and fit in. I no longer take advantage of others for my own selfish need. I love the life I live today - a life of peace, love, happiness and honesty.
Kyle Swanson is a freelance writer recovering from drug addiction and alcoholism. He writes for websites such as medicallyassisted.com in hopes of inspiring others to live a sober lifestyle.