Written January 6, 2017
I’ve been blessed with somewhat of a unique gift. I have the ability to put myself in another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. There are times tho, when it’s more of a curse than a blessing. I say this because of how I felt after all 3 of my relapses. Just being around and talking to my own family members and friends, I can feel their true feelings about me – sometimes without anyone even saying a word. Those feelings are solidified in the conversations I have with family and friends of other addicts like me.
Today I decided to tell you how your family and loved ones feel when you’re conning, manipulating, rationalizing, justifying, using, stealing, lying, going to jail, overdosing and nearly dying. I may not hit on all of those things in this post but I’m sure you’ll get what I’m saying. But first, please read the following. It is a lead in before you pull up the article from a social media page called “Heroin Stop the Silence Start the Conversation”. I encourage you to follow the links to those articles and read them.
“**More than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses since the late 1990s, nearly as many as claimed by leukemia. (WSJ, below). Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 55,403 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015. (from the American Society of Addiction Medicine http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf ). Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. (from the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html )
In a span of about 20 years 300,000 addicts have died. The number of addicts who die has been slowly but steadily increased each year since the 1990’s. In 2015, 55,400 have died alone. That’s a staggering 152 overdose deaths PER DAY!! Don’t believe me? Consider the number of friends you had 10, 5 even 1 year ago. How many of them are still alive? How many times to you read or hear of someone dying from an overdose? How many funerals have you been to where the person died from an overdose? How many musicians or actors have died last year alone from an overdose or other addiction related causes? And finally, have you seen the pain in the faces of family and friends?
Now that the facts are out of the way, let’s take a look at how the ones closest to you feel. Here are some things you may or may not hear but our families and loved ones say…
How can you do this to yourself and your family? Don’t you realize what you are doing to us and to yourself? You had everything going for you and you threw it away for that “stuff”. I didn’t raise you to be a lying, conning, manipulating, justifying, rationalizing, self centered, self seeking person. Where did I wrong you while growing up to make you treat me this way? Was it something I said or did? Why don’t you just stop using? It was your choice to start using, so choose to stop. Was I not a good enough parent/friend/lover/spouse? I love you with all my heart and soul, but I have to distance myself from you right now because I don’t know if 1) you’re going to die or 2) you’re going to steal from me again.
Reread that last sentence. “I love you with all my heart and soul, but…”. Do you see that in your loved ones or have you heard it?
Look, if you’ve read my blog, you know I’m an addict. I’m a recovering addict who knows how your loved ones feel. I’ve heard it from my own loved ones as well as your loved ones. I’ve heard the pleas to get clean, the anger that comes from the hurt and the cries as they watch you kill yourself slowly day by day. I’m not saying I’m a know it all because I don’t’ know everything. What I do know is all the feelings that are involved with addiction – both the addict and the ones who love us. But there is hope for us…if we choose to be that hope shot.
As I’ve probably written before(I can’t remember for sure because I’ve written so much), I first got clean in a rehab. There I met some amazing people who helped me to love myself again. Yes, I relapsed 3 times and almost died 1 of those times. Those amazing people still welcomed me back, some with open arms and gratitude that I was back alive and some with a tough love stanz. They have continued to love and support me thru some very, very trying times in my life. I freely, yet humbly and gratefully, share what was given to me with other addicts…just as I am with you as you read this.
If and when you do decide to get clean, because no one can make you do it, I assure you that life gets better. Yes, life will throw curve balls and the shit fairy drops in once in awhile, but I’m living proof that as long as you stay clean you will get thru it. There are others who can identify with you and your feelings. They can tell you, as I can, what’s worked for them.
No, not all of your relationships will get better today, tomorrow, next month or next year. Some relationships never get better, and that’s ok. You’re not alone. I’ve lost a couple of my loved ones because of the demon that sleeps inside of me. On the other hand I have others in my life that I consider my family – both addicts and non-addicts. They keep me going on those days I need it – even when I don’t want their help.
Now that we’ve turned the page on a new year, why not give yourself the gift of freedom, freedom from the demon inside you. Why not work on you so you don’t end up being part of the statistics I mentioned at the beginning of this post? What have you got to lose?