On Loving an Addict

addiction.jpgThose of you who have an addict in the family, as your friend, or significant other can relate. It’s so hard to love someone with an addiction and not let it bring you down and mess you up. You’re always waiting for a phone call, a text, day in and day out,  that they’re back in the hospital, jail, they’ve overdosed, they need money, a ride, a place to stay, anything. You can love an addict, you can try and save them, but you can’t save them. They destroy you. Even if they don’t mean to, they can and they will.

Nothing will mess with you more than loving an addict. You saw the person they used to be before the addiction, before the mess. You love that person you once knew. You will want that back each and everyday. You will try to help them, do everything in your power to stop their addiction. But let me tell you this, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want the help.

They will blame you for certain things, they will blame everyone else but themselves for their addiction. (until they come to realize it’s them with the addiction and no one’s fault but their own) This will mess with your head. You will think all of these thoughts in your head, “what did I say?” “what did I do?” “what could have I done?” “If I said something different, they wouldn’t  have used again” “It’s my fault”. These thoughts will keep you up at night. They will haunt you.

It’s not your fault, remember that. Don’t blame yourself, no one makes someone an addict besides themselves. The more you reach out, the more you try and help the more painful it becomes. The pain of knowing you can’t take their pain away, you can’t make them stop being an addict. That pain of knowing you may never get the person you once knew back.

The immense fear you feel on the regular has almost become part of your personality.Whether it’s fear of them overdosing, fear of them losing a job, fear of them lashing out and abusing you, fear of them getting involved in the wrong place at the wrong time, fear of them never changing. There’s always a constant fear of something.

With fear comes worry, worry of how you’re going to explain to whoever about their addiction and worry you may not have an excuse. Growing up with an addict I was always worried the kids in dance class or school would find out that my father was an addict. I always worried when I would get called down to the office for pick up unannounced because my dad was in jail or he was in the hospital. That worry going to school the next day and getting made fun of or asked questions because your neighbors saw your family arguing and police cars in front of the house. That worry when you don’t hear from them in a long time;  the only thoughts in your head are where are they, are they dead, do they even care about me anymore, are they ever coming back? That worry when they’re in the hospital because of an overdose, or they’re going through withdrawal. That worry you’re going to get hit, that worry that there’s going to be an argument when you get home, that worry that you may never see your parents again and be taken away by child services. The worry that you won’t have a ride home from dance or sports because your dad used again and forgot about you. The worry they will get in a car and get into an accident and hurt themselves or someone else. The worry that they will hurt themselves.  The list goes on and on. The worry goes on and on.

You constantly find yourself on edge, on guard. You find yourself looking for all the signs, are they slurring their words, are they stumbling, are they passed out, etc. You find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to check if they’re still breathing and have a pulse. You find yourself to be a part time investigator. Snooping through their stuff, checking all their hiding places. You make yourself crazy. But you’re not, you know its all happening again. You know the signs when you see them.

You know what it’s like to be lied to right to your face, but you can’t find the energy to fight back. You know you want to help them so bad and get frustrated when they just won’t listen. You know what it’s like to lose someone standing right in front of you. You know what it’s like to miss someone who is always there. You know what it’s like to be just so lost in your own head and think why, to be confused all the time because you see the person they could be, the person they used to be. You know how it feels to be functioning in everyday life but mentally you’re not even there. You know what it’s like to put your life on hold to help them. You know what it’s like to make up excuses as to why you’re crying or why you have bags under your eyes because you haven’t slept. You know what it’s like to put every bit of energy to keep the person you love out of harms way.You know what it’s like to research every possible answer, every rehab, every program, anything and not find answers you’re looking for.You know what it’s like to become so frustrated at them because they will never understand. You know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep at night and force yourself to go to work or to go to school. You know what it’s like to have your phone glued to your hip because you’re always waiting for “That call”.

Sometimes you find yourself wishing the worst, for it to be over, for it to stop. For everything to just end because you can’t physically and emotionally take it anymore. You think about what it would be like if none of this happened to you. You feel angry, sad, frustrated, and exhausted all at the same time.

You know what it’s like to argue with everyone in your family or with friends about what to do and what is best for them. You feel like you’re going to explode when someone tells you addiction isn’t a disease. You know what it’s like to be known as “the child of an addict”, “the parent of an addict”, “the spouse of an addict” “the friend of an addict”. You know addiction all too well for someone who isn’t an addict.

You know what it’s like to try and figure out what’s enabling and what’s helping them. You know what the weight of the world feels like and you’re wondering if you can even carry it around anymore.

You know what it’s like to care too much, to want to have that person you once knew back, and that can destroy you.