The High Cost of Low Living

I first heard this “descriptive phrase” spoken to me by a recovering addict and the statement captured my attention because of its’ unerring accuracy. You see, I have been part of a remarkable team for the Heritage Treatment Foundation, a private Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation center located here in our beautiful valley since the fall of 2005. I am honored to be part of this team of dedicated and compassionate healers.

This article focuses, however, on the courage of our residents, who come from all over the world to try and kick the habits that are ruining their lives. There is no predictable pattern for they are both men and women, from the ages of early twenties up to the fifties, and now and then, even older. Some come from privileged backgrounds, others don’t. Many have had stable and loving families, and others are victims of terrible childhood abuse. Professionally, they range from corporate executives to housewives.

These facts seem to prove that there is no common denominator that causes addiction to drugs (heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana), prescribed medications (OxyContin, Percocet, Dilaudid, and Percodan) alcohol or gambling, yet there is a theme that consistently plays out in their lives. Each person speaks of searching for something to make them feel good, or at the very least, to numb their emotional self, and to try to ease their voyage through the life they have created around themselves.

The high cost of low living comes out in the stories of their journeys. The amount of resources needed to feed any drug or alcohol addiction increases as the addiction grows and at the same time these resources are rapidly dwindling away. Something has to give and it’s usually lifestyle, honesty and self-respect. All of these go out the window in the endless craving for the next drug or alcohol fix.

These people come to heal and each one’s journey back could be a chapter in anyone’s book of life. Not all of them make it, at least not at first, but many do. The ones that succeed find a new meaning to their life and as hope, joy, self respect and tools to succeed are learned – the light of life enters their eyes.

When people with addiction problems learn the high cost of low living – much pain is saved.  At Heritage Treatment Foundation all staff members work with these courageous souls in preparing them to go back out into the world and repair the damage the drugs and alcohol addiction have made in their life.

What astounds Heritage Treatment Foundation clients soon into their program is the healing power of the simple pleasures of life – things that most of us take for granted. A good night sleep, healthy food at regular hours, yoga, meditation, fitness and reconnecting with nature, all the sweetness of everyday living which most of us do not appreciate enough. For our clients, this return to so-called “normal living” had become a distant memory as their lives had only been built around the addictions that controlled their every waking thought. Much of their time is spent planning to use the substances, the actual hours spent under the influence, and then the rest of their time is spent recovering from the effects of the abuse.  There was not much time left over for just living – and living a happy and healthy life free from the harmful affects of drug and alcohol addiction is rendered virtually impossible.

The most beneficial part of Heritage Treatment Foundation’s treatment process is the therapy. Between workshops, group sessions, intensive counseling, alternative treatments and therapeutic recreation, everyone is given the chance to explore unresolved issues that could have led to their addictions. I believe each and every one of us could benefit from this 30-day plan to take time out from the world and our hectic lives and dedicate these days to soothing and healing our shattered nerves.

Body, mind and spirit are nurtured and nourished as these broken humans slowly knit and fix the results of wrong choices. We can now begin to turn the phrase around to “The low cost of high living” and teach that “high” doesn’t mean what it used to for them.  Meditation – the ultimate and natural high – becomes an exciting experience as they learn that everything they need to feel good is already present in their being. Many Heritage Treatment Foundation clients have spoken of feeling disconnected from their spirituality; however, it usually doesn’t take them long to embrace the return to love they feel.

“Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased; pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; raze out the written troubles of the brain; and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart?” (Macbeth)

Macbeth asked this question of the doctor treating Lady Macbeth. The doctor’s answer was no. There is no known substance that can induce a permanent sense of the sweetness of self.

If you or someone you care about seems to be in the throes of a growing problem with drug or alcohol addiction, please take the time to seek help by reviewing the Heritage Treatment Foundation website and then call Catherine Cosgrove to obtain support and information about our program and services.