The View of Addiction From the Other Side
As prescription painkillers become more difficult to obtain and abuse, a growing number of people addicted to these drugs are switching to heroin, USA Today reports. The trend is increasingly being seen in the suburbs. – DrugFree.org
Many of us that are in recovery, know other family members who have been affected by the dreadful disease of alcoholism or addiction. In addition, many of us know someone else that is struggling. According to DrugFree.org “Drug use is on the rise in this country and 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12 – roughly equal to the entire population of Texas. But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment.”
Of course, my family is no exception, yet it still feels much different to just read that statistic, rather than, to actually be a part of it! Recently I have been thinking often about our family member, I’ll call him Bill, who has now become part of the growing statistic of heroin addicts living in the American suburbs.
I feel quite overwhelmed and helpless, and all of this seems beyond my knowledge and experience. I have never been on the other end of active alcoholism/addiction. The people that I usually work with are in some way ready to get sober. Nevertheless, and even though, I consider myself strictly an alcoholic, I believe that a drug is a drug and addiction is an addiction. I think that I just never got into drugs only because alcohol was more accessible, and delivered everything that I wanted/needed, so I thought of course, until my life spiraled out of control! Therefore, I completely understand the merry-go-round of addiction, and I can relate to the pain and hopelessness, and the numbing effects of the drug (whatever it may be) that make it quite difficult to see that there is another way to live. I can relate to not wanting to get sober and not wanting help, and the overwhelming shame and guilt! I can relate to pushing everyone away because living seems too difficult to bear. I CAN RELATE.
Consequently, after about a month of clean time, and a short stay at the rehab earlier this year, Bill has been back to using like nothing ever happened. The entire family is worried, and no one really knows what else to do. We all have tried different tactics, from kind and gentle, to rough and tough, to demands and threats. We have even taken him to a few 12-step meetings where he seemed to be connecting. Of course when he finally went to rehab, we certainly hoped for the best outcome, but knowing the low success rates, we knew that the stay may have been just a scratch on the surface! Now my heart is filled with fear that he will die before he will be willing and/or able to get any help again.
What else can we do?
From the research I have done so far, I was very surprised to read that it has been documented that it only takes 3 consecutive days of use to become addicted to heroin. I was also shocked to read that heroin is now so cheap and accessible that it has been infiltrating the suburbs and landing at the doorsteps of the youth and young adults all over the states. Only ten dollars will give you about an 8 hourly high and almost no outward, visible symptoms!
Know that someone who uses heroin can talk and think coherently, although at high doses, the user becomes drowsy and starts gouching (nodding off into a sleep like state). Pupils become tiny (pinned) and the eyes roll back. Even with doses sufficiently high to produce euphoria, there is little change to coordination, sensation or intellect. (Source)
I have also learned that quitting heroin is not like quitting drinking. The physical and psychological halves of addiction are equally powerful and equally difficult to negotiate because of its highly pleasurable effects. Many addicts who have even successfully gone through the difficult physical withdrawal, have ended up using again because they do not equally-weight the psychological withdrawal that will occur. Of course just like alcoholics, they often relapse when the work of life begins, and often proves to be too much to deal with.
So we are waiting, waiting for something to happen! We actually concluded that if he got arrested it might be the best thing for him; it might save his life. We actually thought of several ways that we might be able to help that process! Strange. Wishing he ends up in jail seems hopeful! To a normie that would sound absurd, right? Well, even to me it sounds a bit absurd! But, if it can save a life…
I am overwhelmed by my own desire to help him in any way I can, and the dreaded disappointment of time after time that it had done nothing to get him any closer to recovery! I feel very powerless. I know no one gets sober/clean until they are ready. I know that no matter what we do, it is entirely up to him to get clean. I know that he has his own journey, his own Higher Power, and his own time. He is just not ready to surrender.
Alcoholism/Addiction is an insidious disease. It can take control of someone with great talents, strengths and abilities and utterly destroy them. It’s not curable. The decision to stay clean or sober can only be made by the addict himself. I hope that when Bill is finally ready, again, he will know that we will be here, ready to offer our experience, strength and hope. In the meantime, I have to “let go and let God” and embrace the fact that I am powerless over people, and all I can do, all any one of us can do, is to wait for him to be ready.
If you’re here in the U.S. and knows someone who is struggling with heroin addiction, you can call SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse Services Helpline at: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Contact them and ask them to recommend a free to low cost, state run detox, rehab and/or counseling program. They’ll tell you exactly what the person needs to do to enter rehab as quickly as possible, and how to find out if they qualify for free, state funded help as well.
Also here are several helpful sites:
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.