Have you ever loved someone that struggled with an addiction? For me addiction is a word I learned at an early age. Growing up in a house with recovering addicts it was a constant discussion at the dinner table and the culture I was immersed in. Although it wasn’t until I experienced it with someone, I was extremely close with, like brother and sister, that I came to fully understand the impact it causes to others. The concept of addiction up until then was based on stories only of peoples past or from articles and books I read. My degree in Psychology didn’t help prepare me for what happens to a family when someone becomes an addict.
If you have every experienced someone you love struggling with addiction, then you know how I felt the moment I came to the realization that there was a real problem and there wasn’t anything I could do to fix it. I can remember sitting on a chair outside recounting the steps, the moment where it all went wrong. I felt a sense of responsibility that maybe if something different happened that maybe this would be just a bad dream. The feelings of anger and hatred rushing through my veins, emotions of deep sadness and pain because I couldn’t understand or have an answer for what caused this. See, I am the type of person that likes to have an answer to everything and understand why things are the way they are. Honestly, its not my fault, as kids were told the law of motion that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, so this was a concept I held onto in life. I always knew that for everything there is a cause and an effect, and it works in most situations in life.
Until you experience addiction in your life and what it does to people you love it’s hard to grasp the impact it has. There are many theories that believe it’s a combination of biological, situational, psychological components that make addiction debilitating to people. I can understand the scientific and psychological aspect of it, but the emotional aspect is something you can’t read or hear in stories. I can only describe it as an emotional roller coaster in which your entire family is along for the ride. Although the way it feels to me it might be been better described like Tower of Terror that never ends.
If you know anything about addicts, then you know they are good at lying and exaggerating stories to make them appear as a victim. They are constantly on the move trying to figure out the next time, place, or thing they can do to feed their addiction. The problem with addiction is that it becomes the most important thing in life to them. They do not see things with an open mind and clear vision, rather everything they see ahead is negative. Their need to fuel their addiction makes them do things that you normally couldn’t imagine them doing. That’s when it breaks your heart the moment you realize that their desire for that thing is more important than you are to them. They are not capable of making decisions based on logic or reason.
When someone is struggling with addiction the impact is felt by everyone around them. There is an internal battle we as loved one’s struggle with, it’s that feeling of loving someone and wanting to help them but knowing you can’t. When you love someone, you naturally want to take away their pain and fix their problems. When you love an addict, you learn the hard way that you can’t fix them or their situation. No amount of money or love can make anyone change. Sometimes it takes trial and error and chance after chance until you finally give up the idea that you can fix everything for them. Every situation or problem that gets resolved is just replaced with another problem because the root of all their evil is still present.
Living in a world where someone close to me is fighting a battle of addiction I now can understand the impact it has on people. It has caused damage to our family, both emotionally and financially. The time that has been lost cannot be regained. At some point there comes a time when you must decide if your own peace is worth the constant pain of a one-sided recovery. Change must come deep from within someone and has to be worked on daily. While the choice to accept what is and to put distance between the addiction and myself is not easy, it’s a moment they brought you to. Although I am still hopeful for the future and know that every day is another chance for it all to turn around.