Chris Willard on Growing Through Drug Addiction
Grow Through It: Substance Abuse
Chris Willard, psychologist, teacher, and author of How We Grow Through What We Go Through, tells his story of growing through drug addiction.
When he went to college, Chris started to struggle with depression, anxiety, and addiction. He decided to take a few years off to ‘find himself,’ but during that time his IV heroin addiction got worse. After many treatment centers and therapists, he was finally kicked out of a halfway house and ended up sleeping in parks around Boston.
Chris’ family refused to pick him up, but they found another treatment center for him on the West Coast. His bed was not immediately open, so his parents took him with them to a retreat with the renowned meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
The retreat was transformational. His heart felt like it burst open. He felt more engaged with life, more creative, and felt that life was worth living again in a different way.
Chris went to treatment, spent time in nature, and connected with others. He practiced mindfulness and meditation. As he got clarity, opportunities opened to him. He got sober and then built skills on his sobriety. Chris doesn’t think life gets any easier but that we get more tools to use. Meditation, 12 steps, and therapy became the tools he put his faith in because they worked for him.
Chris’ advice is to keep showing up. He learned more recently about self-compassion and tries not to listen to his inner critic. And he suggests trying to tune into more helpful thoughts, which can be a more powerful voice until we discover our inner compassionate voice that will help us through hard times.