What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Lauren F

My story starts back in 2009, the year I graduated from high school. I started having many surgeries for several difficult medical issues I was having at the time (and still suffer from). Most people know when you recover from surgeries you are given narcotics for the pain. While I was hospitalized after my surgeries the doctors would pump Morphine or Dilaudid (strong opiates) throughout my system before I went home on pain pills. As time went on I needed those pain pills more and more. Not only for the surgeries, but for the pain I was having daily from my late stage endometriosis, poly cystic ovarion disease and fibromyalgia. I started going to pain medicine doctors with all the right intentions of getting help. Slowly but surely I became more and more addicted to these pills. It didnt take too long to come out of denial and want help. I was in different outpatient treatment centers which werent enough to help me. For over a year I was on constant Percocet and Fentnyl patches daily until finally in August 2012 my parents were able to put me into inpatient treatment In Indianapolis, IN where I came out sober and have been ever since.

What I really want you to know is that just because I am an addict doesnt make me a bad person. Addicts are good people who make bad choices while in the depths of their disease. Sure I hurt my family during the time I was addicted, but they have forgiven me and I will make all the amends that I can for them. I never stole my drugs, I never got them illegally, I never did illicit drugs nor did I ever do anything illegal. I am very lucky when it comes to my addiction versus other addicts. I realize that addicts and alcoholics can be very hurtful to their families. Its not right, not fair and not intended. Addicts deserve respect as people. No one asks for this disease and no one deserves it. Same for the family members hurt by it, they dont deserve it either. The United States prescribes eighty percent of the worlds opiates so addiction is very prevalent in our society. Addiction isn’t caused by a lack of character, its caused because our brains relentlessly demand the drugs we are addicted to. It is a very condescending disease and the people who it will strike have no idea that when they chose to put that first dose of an illegal substance or a doctor prescribed substance in their body that it will cause major destruction in all ways possible.

I want you to know that most addicts are not homeless or in prison, many are not poor (in fact, some are very wealthy), not all addicts commit illegal acts and many addicts are an extremely wonderful asset to society. I want you to understand that when you associate addiction with the previously mentioned things it is very hurtful to those who are not in those situations. Please understand that addiction is a disease as much as cancer or diabetes. It just manifests itself very differently and unfortunately causes pain to everyone. So the next time you think of addicts please remember that alot of us are sober, hold jobs and live good lives. Family members please consider forgiving someone in your life who has hurt you because of their addiction and addicts please consider getting help if you need it and make amends to your families if you have hurt them.