Recently, Russell Brand wrote an article where he described the desire to buy and consume drugs. He was not talking about the past when he was in the throws of addiction; no, he was talking about a couple of weeks before. He was trying to explain that even although he was 10 years away from drugs (the same length of time as Ozzy) the desire to use again could still be very strong.
All addicts know that feeling. It comes on you like a wave and if you are not careful it can overwhelm your willpower and before you know it, you are behaving on autopilot. There is a part of you screaming that this is not right and that you should not be doing this. But you brush aside those thoughts, because you don't want to be the "Goody Two-Shoes" individual that no one likes because he's afraid to do anything that entails any kind of risk.
What's even worse, and more powerful, is when your drug of choice is used to plug up the holes in your personality. In fact, you may even fear that you have no personality without that drug. As a former addict myself, I know that feeling only too well. I know the terrible fear that can consume me when my inner demons start to accuse me. It feels like being dragged into court and being accused of living a lie, that everything that you think you are, that other people think you are is all a sham, that you are a phoney. Unfortunately, in these moments the prosecution seems to have an open and shut case. There is no appeal.
It is at these times, regardless of how long we are clean and sober, that the allure of drugs or alcohol is too strong. Imagine being enfolded in the arms of the most beautiful feeling of safety, stroked by an unshakeable certainty, being secure in how wonderful you are and convinced that everyone loves you. An incredible warm glow surrounds you as the fear of being a phoney is replaced by the sure knowledge that you are clever, witty, interesting, sexy and just fun to be around.
If you can imagine what that feels like, then you can start to understand the dilemma that the addict faces when the craving hits. Of course, this neither excuses nor condones what Ozzy did or why any addict relapses. However, what it does highlight is that getting clean and sober is not just about stopping drinking or taking drugs, although obviously it needs to start there. Mark Twain was famously quoted as saying, "Giving up (smoking) is easy, I've done it hundreds of times." Getting clean and sober is about maintaining that state and in order to achieve that the addict needs to change how he/she thinks and behaves. The addict needs to clean up his/her act, make peace with the past and avoid situations that increase the temptation.
At times, even though I am 29 years clean and sober, substances can still have an appeal, especially if I am not taking care of myself properly. The demons can still tell me I'm a phoney and no one could possibly like someone like me and that it would be great to get the "drug hug" again, just for a little while. But, over time, the voice has lost much of its power and I can hear the lies quite clearly.
I have no idea what it must feel like to live in the goldfish bowl of publicity that is Ozzy's life. The sense of reality must be overwhelming at times and maybe Ozzy couldn't hear the lies his demons told him anymore. I am glad that he has climbed back on the wagon and—as a fellow traveller along the addiction road—I just pray for his and his family's sake that he stays onboard.
If you are experiencing the kind of cravings discussed in this article, help is available. If you have your very own Ozzy at home, help is available for you too.