Author Nikki DuBose of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light was recently interviewed on addiction and recovery. Here she offers a recap on everything from when her addiction began to how to help a loved one who may be suffering.
1. Can you pinpoint when your problems with addiction began?
I was wired for addiction – my mother had bipolar and dissociative identity disorder and her mother (she was adopted) died from cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism.
So I came into the world with a loaded gun, so to speak. Then I was abused sexually, mentally and physically by my mother and a male figure from ages 8 to 13, and that’s when my problems with addiction began.
2. What were you addicted to?
My first addiction began with food; at age 8 I blame addicted to overeating, or binge eating. But at the core root of my food issues, I believe I was searching for love and affection because I never got that at home. That addiction escalated into many other addictions, such as purging, sex addictions, love addictions, drugs, and alcohol.
3. Do you think your upbringing contributed to your addictions?
Absolutely. I think genetics plays a big role, but our environment greatly shapes us, especially in the first few years. Child abuse and child sexual abuse changed how I saw myself. I hated myself and sought out unhealthy coping mechanisms.
4. Did you know at the time that you were an ‘addict?’
I had no idea for many years that I was an “addict.” My actions and behaviors were my “normal.” What I did know was that 1). My head was a painful yet comforting place to be and 2). I didn’t want to leave my behaviors because I was afraid what life would be like without them.
5. You were a successful model – do you think your environment made your addictions worse?
I do think that the unregulated modeling industry exacerbated my addictions. I am not bashing anyone in that business. However, because of the lack of mental health education and support, I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help.
There were too many temptations for someone like me. I was vulnerable and an addict. In an industry that provided access to everything and zero help, what does that do to an addict?
6. Can you remember when you realized you had a problem?
Many people told me I had problems; that I had alcohol problems, drug problems, that I was schizophrenic, on and on. I was confronted about my eating disorder multiple times, but it wasn’t until I almost lost my job in 2010 that I decided to make that first step and get help.
After that it took a couple of years to get serious about my health. Truly, it was my mother’s death from alcoholism in 2012 that made me wake up and take a look at my own life and issues.
7. What prompted you to seek help?
Definitely my mother’s death from severe mental health issues and alcoholism in 2012.
8. Is there anything you know now about recovery from addiction that you wish you’d known then?
You know, I really believe that we do the best we can with what we have, and there’s no right or wrong. It’s just about having compassion for ourselves and knowing that it will get better, life does get easier.
9. What advice would you give to someone who thinks they have an addiction problem?
To anyone who thinks they have an addiction problem, I say that being self aware is an amazing step because so many are not. We all have to take responsibility for our mental health once we become aware.
Recovery is not an easy process, but it is worth it because we are. Reach out to anyone you can and take that next step to get help. It will get better, one day at a time and you don’t have to do it alone.
10. What can you do to support a friend or family member who has an addiction problem?
Be that support system and offer to help them, but in balance to helping yourself, too. Something I learned the hard way and talk to so many people about is that when a loved one or a friend is addicted, there is a fine line with knowing how to help and not enable.
Take care of your mental health first, then help. The individual is responsible for their own recovery, and we are there to support. It takes establishing boundaries. You can visit https://www.addictionhope.com, http://shawmindfoundation.org for UK resources and https://www.drugabuse.gov for more even more help .
What has inspired you from seeing others find recovery from addiction?
About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, advocate, and ambassador. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, details her recovery from trauma, severe mental illnesses and the dark side of the modeling industry. Nikki has been featured on television shows and networks such as The Doctors, The TD Jakes Show, CBS Los Angeles, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in publications such as People, LA Times, Vogue UK, Esquire, India Times, and Inquisitr. To find out more about Nikki, visit http://nikkidubose.com/.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Advancing Addiction Science, https://www.drugabuse.gov/
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 31, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com