I once worked with a man who had a fracture in his right leg. It happened out in the back country where no medical services were available, so other than extremely painful, he stayed off his leg for a week or so and then started walking on it again, albeit with a limp, which also was always painful.
A couple of weeks later, friends convinced him to go see a doctor who after tests, told him that in order to heal the break fully, his fibula would have to be broken intentionally and then reset properly, which he agreed to.
I met him about two years after this happened, and he still spoke of it as the most painful thing that had ever happened to him; the memory of it all still so fresh in his mind. More than once he made the statement, “I now know what the quote means that says, the cure is often worse that the injury.”
In the initial process of recovery from an addiction, referred to as detoxing, I remember in my youth seeing movies or programs about this subject. The person would be lying on a bed; sometimes strapped down, in a padded room, and writhing in agony as the drugs worked their way out of the person’s system. An alcoholic friend often was so far gone on a binge that in his detoxing, he would see images in his own mind that were so extremely real to him that he would just literally cower in fear and pain.
Other than minor incidents in my own life, like fingers and table saws or grinding chips in my eye, I have never really experienced a situation where the cure was more painful than the injury. The only time was when I had a burst appendix; that was the closest I ever came to live that expression.
Many cures, especially for addictions are much more subtle in that there is not always pain involved so much as mental anguish which can evoke the emotional similarity to pain. There are physical aspects to it as well, although they often are more related to being sick than actual pain. But the effects are the same; the cure at times is worse than the actual sickness that addictions place in a person’s body.
What we see the most of is that when a person comes to a certain point in their drug use, they chose to go into a facility to detox. Once “back to normal”, the first thing on their mind is the next fix. And so the cycle repeats itself.
For those who then choose to stay clean and change their lives, the real battle starts after they have detoxed. That battle or ‘cure’ can often be much more hurtful than the effects of some of the drugs they were on. Their cravings, and sometimes flashbacks, after coming clean can be readily described as a cure, and as such can be very painful; not so much physical as emotional and mental.
I spent a very large portion of my life addicted to cigarettes. Then seven years ago I, for the umpteenth time, tried again to quit, but this time thank God I was successful. Having said that, every once in a while performing a certain activity or doing a specific work, I will actually reach for my shirt pocket in order to grab a cigarette, and I really want one at that time, but it only lasts for a few seconds and then I realize I am no longer a smoker. But for that brief moment, there is an ‘urge pain’.
So whenever a person states that they have been clean, even for a short time, we cheer, clap and encourage them on; this cure is definitely worth the pain.
Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potter’s Hands in Red Deer.