What I've Learned About Pain Management - Page 2

By Nic Sheff 11/07/12

I drank and used to escape the pain I was in but my problems only magnified. As it turns out, the clichés are true: the only way to get over those feelings is to go through them.

How it all started Photo via

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So is it just that I’m weaker than they are?

Am I mentally weaker?

Physically weaker?

Well, actually, in a way, I think that, yes, I am.

Again, I can’t speak for all addicts.

But I know that I am weak.

I am weak and fragile.

The world can just seem so giant and overwhelming.

I am ridiculously oversensitive.

And, more than anything else, I have always genuinely disliked or even hated myself.

I wanted so badly to be anybody but who I was. 

Looking in the mirror, I would fixate on how unattractive I was, how uncool I was, how stupid I was. And then I hated myself even more for thinking like that. I hated the way I thought. 

Men, in my mind, were supposed to be tough, unconcerned. They were supposed to speak little and worry about nothing. Men had square jaws and broad shoulders and deep voices. Men never wanted to curl up in the corner when faced with something difficult. Men liked sports and cars and…what? Sports cars? Men liked saying misogynistic things about woman. Men were a cross between Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden and Clint Eastwood as pretty much anybody.

But I wasn’t like that at all.

I was, in fact, the opposite of all those things.

And so, for me, because of my genetic makeup, the answer I found was in drugs. 

Drugs made me not care.

Drugs took the pain away.

And on drugs, I was actually more like what I thought a male was supposed to be. I was an asshole on drugs. I spoke my mind. I felt tough. I fought. And I didn’t feel ugly, either.

But what’s really the most tragic part about all this is that I was getting high instead of genuinely learning how to deal with my emotions. Whenever I did try to get sober, I’d find myself feeling even more sensitive, weak, and fragile then I’d been in the first place.

That is the great irony of addiction—the more we use whatever it is to escape from our individual “pain,” the more the source of that pain grows (and not just little by little but exponentially).

That’s why, above all else, it is so important for me to face my pain today. Because I know that the pain in me, however big or small, will never go away until I deal with it. Until I actively learn how to cope, on my own, with my oversensitivity and fear and weakness, it will only continue getting worse. 

Of course, facing that pain is fucking hard. I’m not saying it’s easy. Hell, if it were, we wouldn’t be spending so much time, energy, and money running away from it all.

But the more we run, the bigger it gets.

So, today, I’ve learned to face the pain in me. And I know that eventually it will get easier.

Nic Sheff is a columnist for The Fix and the author of two memoirs about his struggles with addiction, the New York Times-bestselling Tweak, and We All Fall Down. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two hound dogs, and a cat and has previously written about selling himself for sex and his father David Sheff's book Beautiful Boy, among many other topics.

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Nic Sheff is the author of two memoirs about his struggles with addiction: the New York Times bestselling Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction. Nic lives in Los Angeles, California where he writes for film and television. Find Nic on Twitter.