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A vent about addiction

AJanie's picture

My cousin, who was like my brother growing up, the happiest, funniest and most outgoing child you would ever meet... is an addict.

I've been impacted by addiction a lot in the last couple years between my ex, my cousin and one of my former close friends who overdosed on Christmas eve.

My cousin has to be the most baffling. He grew up in a good family. His parents divorced and it was messy for awhile, but other than that (which is not all that uncommon!) there was no trauma. Plenty of opportunity, plenty of love.

Years back he ended up heavy into drugs and went as far as robbing houses to pawn items for the drugs. Went to rehab. Got "clean." Got married, had a second child (had one during the height of his addiction). He has since landed decent jobs, only to eventually show up f*cked up out of his mind and lose them. About a year ago he lost yet another good job, and his family lost the house and wife left him.

Once again, he was shipped to rehab and then a halfway house, where they even lined up a job. He leaves the halfway house, is homeless for awhile, couch surfs for awhile, and then finally gets another job and a small place... and BAM, 5 months later he gets evicted and is homeless again. Totally destroying his kids and hurting everyone in his family - but completely and utterly DENIES that he has an addiction problem.

His excuse? "He is bad with money and at being an adult" and he "spends his money on cigarettes and food." ($600 per week, must be expensive cigarettes and food).

How many times does he have to "hit bottom?" I mean, losing your family & home and being homeless is not bottom? I can't comprehend the level of selfishness that addicts have. I really can't. His kids are beautiful and healthy. He is blessed to have them and doesn't give a shit.

He is, as my dad says, a tragedy waiting to happen. And it sucks. It sucks so bad.


Merry's picture

It does suck. It really sucks.

I have learned about addiction through my SS. He's been in rehab twice, and clean now for three years. But I know any day could bring a relapse (which will destroy his father, my DH). I know addicts who have relapsed after 30 years of being sober.

Do not attribute your cousin's inability to kick the addiction as a moral failing of his. It is not due to a failure of his parents or anyone around him. The person who introduced him to drugs is an asshole, but it's not that person's fault either. Addiction is just too big. Brain chemicals and pathways are permanently altered. He won't be ready for another round of rehab until he admits he needs it though. But until then he should be held accountable for his actions. His wife was right to leave him if he was destroying her life, and their children's.

It is heartbreaking, for everyone.

I hope and pray every day that with all the research going on surrounding addiction that there will be solutions/interventions that will help at least some of the population. With attention in the popular press now about the opioid crisis, I hope there is also greater understanding of addiction and the addict.

Aniki's picture

Sadly, some people will roller coaster and hit rock bottom over and over until they die. I'm sorry, AJ. Sad

Thumper's picture

Redhen what awful atrocity for you. I am sorry.

Ajanie as for you, I am also sorry. Sorry for the time you missed and will miss with your cousin.

NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

My cousin died of a heroin overdose. Her child was taken away from her and adopted by the kid's cheerleading coach . I understand

ntm's picture

I think with opioids, rock bottom is overdose and death. It’s harsh, but they relapse and relapse and relapse. And one day it will be too strong a dose, and that’s it.

--figureditout--'s picture

As most of you know, I am an alcoholic. I had the opportunity to go to a rehab as our insurance would have paid for it. Until now, the longest I was able to stop was 4 months cold turkey.

I am now just over a year clean and sober. I don't know if I hit rock bottom. What I do know is that I found something more important to me than the bourbon, Fireball and family.

During the past 13 months, no one had faith in me except for me. I was in full on F*ck you mode. My being pissed at the world and the love for my husband and 2 boys kept me going.

Two weeks ago my DH was formally diagnosed with combat related PTSD. He also suffers from bipolar depression and is an alcoholic and addict. He has 3 years of sobriety and a week of clean time from prescribed benzos.

He had a manic episode with massive aggression (non-violent) directed straight at me. I took our boys and left the house. I called his AA sponsor who came to the house and took him to the ER. They refused to Baker Act him, gave him his beloved benzos and released him.

Four days later, another manic episode. OBS is 15, 6 foot and 220 pounds. He and I managed to get DH into the car and we went to the ER. We left YBS at home (He is 12.5). It took both OBS and myself to drag him into the ER. After they shot DH up with Geodon, he admitted to overmedicating. He got a 3 day stay in the psych ward about 3 hours from home.

It took 7 hours in the ER for them to find placement. I took OBS home after we'd been there for 2 hours. Got them dinner and went back to the ER.

It would have been very easy at that point to stop and get a drink. I knew there was supposed to be a 10 o'clock candlelight AA meeting. They loaded DH up at 1015. I called to check on the boys and went to the meeting.

The point I am trying to get across is that you don't necessarily have a rock bottom. You need something to focus your attention on. Something wholesome and important.

I am not a recovering alcoholic. I will always be an alcoholic, I just choose to live my life in a better way, and change the ways I used to deal with issues.

I hope that your cousin finds something better, that is healthy.

Kes's picture

Addicts are by no means all the same and shouldn't be tarred with the same brush. I became addicted to prescription meds after being prescribed large amounts during a breakdown when I was hospitalised. After a couple of years I started buying additional supplies on the internet.

It took me 17 years to free myself of the addiction - I was always willing to admit I was addicted but overcoming it was very hard and the medical profession, who had caused the problem, totally blamed me and never offered me any help.

An addict will only change when staying the same is a worse option than getting clean - often because staying the same means you are going to die. Even then some can't or won't do it - you have to be really tough to manage the withdrawal which in the case of benzos and z drugs, (unlike heroin) can go on for years.

Gimlet's picture

Figureditout/Kes - thank you for your posts.

I've found myself becoming jaded, hard, and losing all my empathy for addicts lately. I recently read "Dreamland", which outlines exactly how the opiate crisis came to be (hint: people made a LOT of money) and am trying to adjust my harsh feelings on the topic.

I don't know what it's like to be addicted, I've just watched the destruction that it can cause. I hold no hope for my siblings ever getting better (for that they would have to address the personality disorders that they are medicating), but it does give me a little hope in my heart that some people can beat it and not only get sober, but be people who I respect.

Figureditout - best of luck to you and your husband in this trying situation. I'm sorry you're going through this.

AJ - I understand. My brother is the same as your nephew. He's never going to get better, all he is going to do is drag anyone he can down with him. I don't know how I feel about him anymore because I'm too angry to go any deeper. Working on that with my terrific therapist.

mommadukes2015's picture

AJ it's not about "hitting bottom". The truth about the bottom is, that there is always a rung lower-then when you get to the final rung, there isn't anything of you left because you're dead. That's rock bottom.

The thing with people with addiction is they have to want to change. Really, truly and deeply. Then they have to maintain that change, which is easier said than done. Addiction changes people. People from great homes, people with great careers and promise can become addicts in the flip of a switch. Addiction doesn't care about demographics.

The best thing you can do as someone who loves him, is be there when and if he does finally decide he wants to change for serious. I hope he gets there.