Addiction. Help. Two words that are hard to say and even harder to admit.
Certain habits seem trivial, such as the nonchalant notion of being a caffeine addict. A morning cup of coffee, followed by one or two more throughout the day. But try going without the regular caffeine intake and suddenly the day feels sluggish, headaches become persistent. Yes, my name is Nicole Teitler and I have a coffee addiction. While I say this lightheartedly addictions beyond the Starbucks and Krug cups are prevalent in society today.
According to American Addiction Centers, 21.5 million Americans ages 12 and older battled with a substance disorder in 2014. Out of that, nearly 80% struggled with alcohol use and over 7 million battled with drugs and 1 of 8 battled a combination of drugs and alcohol.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports in that same year prescription drugs, those of Opioid pain relief, ADHD stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs, were abused most by people ages 18 to 25. 12% of abusers used it non-medically.
As recorded, those of developmental ages (grade school and college) are most susceptible to forming an addiction, be it through social pressure or the advice of a doctor.
Amanda Barfield and I met my freshmen year at Hofstra University. I admired her in countless ways, one being her effortless confidence. Before the years end I joined a sorority and called her my Big Sister. [Fun Fact: She gave me the sorority name ‘Dailey,’ and with the drop of an ‘e’ the blog name Nikki on the Daily was born.]
What I didn’t know at the time was that my big sister was facing demons every day. She struggled with an addiction for almost a decade after becoming hooked onto substances in college. What began as recreational, Xanax, Roxys and drinking, eventually became a psychological necessity that soon grew into physical withdrawals. Waking up she found herself needing substances more and more. Without a solution or being aware of what was going on Barfield fell into the black whole known as addiction.
“I thought, I’m not feeling good, maybe I should get another one,” she explained. “I didn’t think to ask for help, I was ashamed to let people know I was struggling. I was alone because I didn’t tell anybody. But addiction is so common now that we need to find a solution rather than hiding in the shame.”
It wasn’t until a court mandated Barfield to attend a treatment center for her addiction in 2014 that life began to change. Now two and a half years sober, with previous experience as a behavioral technician, Barfield is an Outreach Coordinator for Amethyst Recovery Center in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Working at a dual diagnosis treatment center, a space dedicated to helping mental health and substance abusers, has given her a special purpose in life.
As an Outreach Coordinator Barfield goes to different treatment centers to develop relationships with other professionals. In addition, she puts in a lot of time into helping patients and their families. Amethyst Recovery Center (A.R.C.) also paid for Barfield to obtain her recovery coach and peer specialist certifications, allowing her to work one on one with patients in order to come up with a steady plan in staying sober.
Having started the job in January of this year, upon developing more experience in her role she will fly across the U.S. as a representative of her company. An opportunity she is eager to take on.
“When you’re in an addiction it’s very hard to stop…it was making me feel hopeless and ashamed,” Barfield admits.
Addiction, now a thing of the past, became a motivator for her to look passed her individual suffering.
“My purpose is to be effective and help as many people as I can. How it happens is really up to God and the people he puts in my life to meet. I feel blessed to be sober and being able to give back to people suffering. It’s a rewarding lifestyle where I’m driven by passion. There’s this fire in me to help and it hasn’t gone out. It keeps growing.”
Through sobriety, Barfield is rebuilding herself as a friend and as an integral part of her family. What once was a one-way street of selfishness is a repaved pathway of acceptance and support. Today even the relationship she and I have is stronger than ever.
“My outlet today is a very spiritual way of thinking. I try to have balance, not to be excessive in anything that I do. Being centered, being grounded and being spiritually fit. I pray every morning to God to keep me sober and every night I thank him for keeping me sober.”
Not all dependencies are drug, alcohol or prescription related. It can stem from emotional, body, food, internet (yes, it’s real) or, as I admitted earlier, daily habits such as coffee. Though addiction is real it doesn’t have to be permanent. The first step towards a better life is wanting one.
Struggling with an addiction or know someone who is? You can email Amanda at Abarfield@amethystrecovery.org
& Snapchat as Nikki On The Daily