Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Loving an Addict

I was having a conversation recently with a friend about my minor obsession with the well being of a friend. She casually stated "the only thing worse than being an addict, is loving one." These words kind of fucked me up for a few moments. I'm a writer. I consider myself able to turn a good phrase. Yet, I had no witty rebuttal. These words stung for days. 

For the first time in my life, I was experiencing what others must have experienced when I was on drugs. I have made friends with addicts before, hundreds of them over the years. Between my own drug use and working at harm reduction facilities, I have been in the consistent company of drug users for close to thirty years. To a certain extent, I always was able to put up a decent sized wedge of self preservation between myself and the other person. I always knew in the back of my mind that at any moment, the "other shoe" of overdose, murder, or other type of brutal end could happen to my people. I am a jaded realist, I thought. Keeping my emotional distance the way I kept it after my father relapsed for the first time. That event sealed my belief that a piece of my heart needed to be set aside for the inevitable downside that comes with a life dealing with driven by chemicals. 

I was blindsided recently by a friendship that developed over a common love of writing. I caught myself laying awake at night wondering if this person was alright. Silly, I told myself. Not worth stressing over I would say outloud. Yet it happened to me. I was the person who loved at addict. I was the person wondering if every missed text meant they were somewhere shooting up in between their fingers. I was the person checking social media to see if they were still there. It isn't to say I haven't loved other people who have been hooked on drugs. I have just never experienced the other side of it. That complete helplessness of knowing someone is bound to make poor choices and there is not a single fucking thing you can do at that moment. That loss of control over any aspect of the relationship is both scary and crippling. I couldn't help it though. That was what I felt, how I felt. They became my friend. So I cared/care despite the pain. It turned a mirror to myself. 

I don't know if this person and I can or will remain friends because that is just how life goes. But I do know I grew as a person. I know I have a deeper appreciation for my work in harm reduction. I know I can't be afraid to pass up the small moments in life anymore. 

I love you xoxo 


  1. "Only thing worse than being an addict..."?? That doesn't fly at all. Pedo's, Terrorist's, serial killers...there's a million worse things to be. Actually, addicts can be the most honest people you will ever meet.

    1. This person is also an addict. I think they were trying to comfort me