Catch Me If You Can
Euphoric Recall – One Addict’s Interpretation
Part 1 of 2
By Kacie Brockman
Euphoric Recall during early recovery from substance abuse can be brutal and relentless. Triggers are the mosquito-like ghosts of just about anything your consciousness experienced during active addiction. Body and mind have been chemically and/or neurologically changed and a hyper-awareness of what might normally appear insignificant can “trigger” or awaken Euphoric Recall. This can be people, places, and things as we all are aware of, but it can detect even the bare minimum of a correlation and become a trigger. The smell from a neighbor’s barbeque, the tart iciness of a slushie, or maybe simply the sound of a cat purring. It’s crazy, right? So why exactly then is it that Euphoric Recall is the main culprit in so many relapses? This two-part article intends to redefine this discreet little homewrecker, many of us in recovery have at times considered harmless, or just a daydream. Alcoholics and Addicts alike, both in and out of recovery frequently like to meander way out to our mind’s backlot of memories, many of them fragmented, but nonetheless continue to linger around waiting to be picked up and polished off.
Considering that we might wait for days sometimes for the tiny ping of a returned text notifying us that the connect has come through. Driving 30 miles out of town, 30 miles back, only to then tweeze leg stubble until the sun rises too quickly as if to chastise us before the rest of society does. While we are pursuing bits of nothing that ever lasted, nothing that could be touched or tasted, or heard or seen, our very real, tangible, life sustaining reality is crumbling at our feet, yet we barely take notice.
Now once upon a time, those tiny specks supplied the perfect safety release. All the intrinsic and pervasive emotions, the shit emotions they could be called, would simply vanish into thin air. Emotional trauma, chaos, fear, anxiety, rage, confusion, humiliation, isolation, abandonment, not-good-enough, rejection, all of it, any of it was gone. POOF! Just like that. They were GONE. EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT…. GONE. I’m really trying to make a point here guys. GONE.
I was 11 when I conceived of suicide for the first time. My son is 11. This continues to bewilder me. What on earth could possibly have occurred in that brief period of an 11-year-old’s lifespan to bring forth the need to escape reality that badly? I was 13 when I found my first safety release valve, and so I stayed alive. I truly believe these mechanisms evolve out of the need to sustain life. I cannot substantiate that with any empirical evidence, or any evidence at all for that matter, other than the fact that I am still here to write this article. How about you? How old were you if or when the thought of dying drifted across your mind and sounded better than living? So tragic that what we believed was saving us was taking us into a new dimension of fear, the kind that only nightmares are made of. So, let’s recap, shall we? Euphoric Recall will have us analyzing our first few times of riding the carousel of catastrophes. We blot or blur out most, if not all, of the miserably misguided events that soon followed. All that remained was unparalleled confidence, bliss. Still, most of all, we’d been extricated from some emotional wreckage, that which many of us were far too young even to identify, let alone articulate and navigate through. That which we were experiencing when we initially got loaded or high or buzzed or stopped eating, we would then spend a significant portion of our lives running after that which we will never catch. Does that appear to be a logical, rational being? Or does that sound sick? Sadly, many who’ve not experienced addiction themselves or up close and personal have decided that it is within the addict’s cognitive capacity to think about the behavior and the consequences. So it is determined that they possess a clear and deliberate attempt to manipulate, lie, cheat, steal, betray, harm, even in the worst of cases, kill?
As I am about to deviate off-topic, please stay with me. Weigh the possibility of a chemical or neurological “hook” that is fastened into the mind of a future addict. What if it was not only plausible but probable? What if, the first few times or so that experimentation occurred, a bond or attachment to specifically compatible receptors did, in fact, occur. So hypothetically, a particular genetic disposition or makeup combined with trauma (i.e., post-Vietnam addicted vets) determines why one is an addict, and one is not. Now take the word (hypothetical) out and replace it with the word “Scientifically.” How does it all look now? Are we still the dredge of society? The junkies, the addicts, the unsightly homeless population tarnishing your exceptional communities? Are we still the lepers that you read about in Church on Sundays? Because if we are, look beside you. Your son, your sister, your spouse…it can occur at any time to anyone. I was 42 when I tipped over and became an alcoholic, and I was 44 when I became addicted to crystal methamphetamine. Before that, I was a child care provider and worked in the legal field. It can strike anyone at any time. So don’t just look beside you, look in front of you, into a mirror. It might just as well be you. “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford.”
Scientific research is, in fact advancing in the field of addiction and recovery, that one person’s brain is far more susceptible to addiction than another’s might be.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Carousel of Pain
Euphoric Recall – One Addicts Interpretation
Part 2 of 2
By Kacie Brockman
Trigger is the ever so slight nudge of awareness to Euphoric Recall. Euphoric Recall is the memory of the first ride, or the good times. And when these memories are held onto for too long, and polished just so….almost as if a genies lamp were to be polished, suddenly the harmless daydream erupts into a cloud of circus-like confetti blotting out years, perhaps even decades that we spent in chains, bound to a ruthless master. Some of us might stay just a bit too long, holding onto that memory. As we commence to look around, we see the last of the confetti floating to the ground softly, encompassing our feet, and we relive going to the amusement park for the very first time.
There was nothing like the first time as we climbed onto the carousel of what we believed would be the ride of our lives, the epitome of absolute unbridled freedom. Some of us chose the beautiful running horses while others picked the curious, exotic animals. And when it began, how exciting, and fun and free we felt for the first time, we were ungoverned adults now. While the whimsical melody played along, many of us believed we were free from control, we were adults now who should never have to answer to anyone ever again! But alas, the ride ended much to quickly and so we wanted to go back, and again. But suddenly the ride changed, we didn’t know exactly when but it stopped being fun. And then, it started to become scary actually. Before long were we thrown off our magic carousel and forced to walk, sometimes crawl, or run even as we were chained to the ride. After a minute, the brightly colored animals were now dark and gruesome, as if the electrical current surging through the machinery was far too hot, burning and charring the exotic zebras, giraffes, and gazelles black from the inside out. The once carefree experience of the ride had destroyed its very own. So it only seemed fitting that we became the animals which we once carelessly floated upon, and it was us forced to go round in circles, over and over. It was as if the lethal acidity was feasting upon our pain and despair. By absorbing all the energy produced from the misery of thousands and thousands of poor shackled souls, the show could go on. We became nothing but a sideshow of suffering, while the corrosive compounds and lethal toxins we proceeded to consume in vast quantities began to play havoc with our minds.
All of this to silence the consuming fear. I can recall the relentless and merciless vows of retribution that my sickened mind would convince me of should I ever break loose and run for freedom? The irony of this entire metaphor is that it is the ride, it is our addiction that will deliver these horrifying consequences, not surrender, recovery, and step-work. Looking back, most if not all of us realize that the sense of sheer dread created by this masquerade of some meridian was all an illusion. Smoke and mirrors. As the once majestic horses climbed and descended pitifully impaled upon their poles, we should have realized that we would soon become them. Piercing through our existence was the dark entity we knew only as our master. Mercilessly driving us…to go up and down for eternity and round in circles for infinity. And all anyone could do was watch in horror…or turn away.
You precious recovering soul who’s reading this right now, you might have the face, the voice, the experience that another one of us needs to connect with to stop the madness, the sheer insanity of such an imprisoned hellish ride. Your account of surrendering might hold the key for many to consider recovery by surrendering to freedom. Your unique experience might illuminate a different path, something they haven’t tried before. Fighting against the machine alone is futile, but if they can identify as us, like you, they might be able to resuscitate their fighting warrior within. Your voice in the rooms, your very presence and experience might jolt the newcomer to look up for that oh so precious 60-second window to leave behind the shadows and the shackles of the caustic carousel that’s spiraling towards an inescapable tomb.