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Not Your Huckleberry

When Someone You Love Is An Addict...

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Not Your Huckleberry

Three weeks ago, my roommate began acting a little aloof. Knowing that he'd been stressing about family life, I didn't pay it much mind. Then one night, he didn't come in from work. Later the next day, he had come back, admitted to having relapsed the past three weeks, gathered all his belongings and simply left. 

Chris is one of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in and out of the cycle of addiction. He'd been doing great, clean for nearly a year and feeling on top of the world. Great job, the whole nine. But Chris had some demons in his past; some he could never reconcile, and maybe never will. I won't go into detail. 

I was scheduled later today for work, so I went on the other side of town for a jog. Chris was there, wearing dirty clothes. Cried when he saw me. Completely strung out. Saying "I just wanna be normal" and "this is the only way I know how to be". That it's, "not about the drugs, it's about the fact that I know I can't be a good dad". Looking as if he'd lost twenty pounds since I last saw him, I bought him some breakfast and tried to understand what few words he could pass through his lips. 

You see, this isn't his first rodeo. He's been in and out of rehab five or more times. I have tried to explain to him that these things, the drugs, have no control over him despite what some of the kooks in these sober living facilities would have him believe. In the nicest way possible, I told him that it's finally time to grow up. If he doesn't do it for anyone else, do it for his son. He honestly believes that he's simply not capable of being a responsible adult.

I can't house him anymore. I don't know what to do for him. Mental health "professionals" have failed him; rehab has failed him; his family wants nothing to do with him. Or maybe he failed all those things? But I won't give up on him. I've come to love Chris despite knowing him less than a year. He's a loving, smart, motivated guy when he's sober. I just don't know what to do. He's his own worst enemy when he hits a stumbling block; he can't ever forgive himself and goes straight down the rabbit hole. 

I need advice.

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OverSword
6 minutes ago, Not Your Huckleberry said:

Three weeks ago, my roommate began acting a little aloof. Knowing that he'd been stressing about family life, I didn't pay it much mind. Then one night, he didn't come in from work. Later the next day, he had come back, admitted to having relapsed the past three weeks, gathered all his belongings and simply left. 

Chris is one of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in and out of the cycle of addiction. He'd been doing great, clean for nearly a year and feeling on top of the world. Great job, the whole nine. But Chris had some demons in his past; some he could never reconcile, and maybe never will. I won't go into detail. 

I was scheduled later today for work, so I went on the other side of town for a jog. Chris was there, wearing dirty clothes. Cried when he saw me. Completely strung out. Saying "I just wanna be normal" and "this is the only way I know how to be". That it's, "not about the drugs, it's about the fact that I know I can't be a good dad". Looking as if he'd lost twenty pounds since I last saw him, I bought him some breakfast and tried to understand what few words he could pass through his lips. 

You see, this isn't his first rodeo. He's been in and out of rehab five or more times. I have tried to explain to him that these things, the drugs, have no control over him despite what some of the kooks in these sober living facilities would have him believe. In the nicest way possible, I told him that it's finally time to grow up. If he doesn't do it for anyone else, do it for his son. He honestly believes that he's simply not capable of being a responsible adult.

I can't house him anymore. I don't know what to do for him. Mental health "professionals" have failed him; rehab has failed him; his family wants nothing to do with him. Or maybe he failed all those things? But I won't give up on him. I've come to love Chris despite knowing him less than a year. He's a loving, smart, motivated guy when he's sober. I just don't know what to do. He's his own worst enemy when he hits a stumbling block; he can't ever forgive himself and goes straight down the rabbit hole. 

I need advice.

Wow, that's sad.  Most of us know someone like that.  You've done all you can unless you want to let him stay with you while he's using and I think that's not an option huh?  Maybe go to some meetings with him if he'll go.  But you're right the drugs don't have any hold on him that he doesn't give them, sounds like he's not done.  Some people never are.

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sci-nerd

They sometimes need to hit rock bottom, before they truly want to escape addiction.

You can help that process by turning your back. But it is not risk free.

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spartan max2

Just my personal advice,

Addicts need support but not enabelers. 

It sounds like you might love him romantically which makes it all the harder. 

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Kittens Are Jerks

@Not Your Huckleberry I don't know anyone with addition issues, so I have little first hand experience in this regard, but think it important that you encourage your friend to continue to receive medical help and counselling. You might also want to help him explore various treatment options. There are breakthroughs in neuroscience all the time, so there may be some new approaches he can try. And above all, continue to be compassionate, offering him all the help and support that you can. 

I really hope everything works out for him, and wish him all the best. He's fortunate to have you as a friend.

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and then
12 minutes ago, sci-nerd said:

They sometimes need to hit rock bottom, before they truly want to escape addiction.

You can help that process by turning your back. But it is not risk free.

That's what it took with me.  The only person left was my older sister and had she not taken me in when she did, I'd certainly been dead.  As it was, I had one final chance to gain a "moment of clarity".  I pray that your friend can find the humility to gain his own.  If he can't, then have no guilt.  We all have to steer our own ship and that's hard enough.

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sci-nerd
2 minutes ago, and then said:

That's what it took with me.  The only person left was my older sister and had she not taken me in when she did, I'd certainly been dead.

It's the one big shame of my life, but 9 years ago my relationship failed and I was on my own. The shame was not the relationship, but my reaction to it. Alcohol abuse. After one year of pure drinking, almost no food, my body surrendered. I couldn't drink even if I wanted. The hours that followed were like days. It was hell. But slowly I came back.

I was alone during that. It was very scary and confusing. I thought I would die in the early stages. But I made it.

My best advice to someone battling withdrawal is: Eat! Get food! No matter how low your appetite is, eat!

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MERRY DMAS

He needs to see that death is knocking at his door, and he's all too eager to let it in.

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Not A Rockstar

Two major needful points have been made above. Compassion and guilt.

Compassion is always the right response, but, do not confuse it with empathy or sympathy. Be caring, but, do not cross the line even in your mind into sympathy. He needs that higher love, but also tough love which will not enable his addictions or negative beliefs. I call it passionate dispassion. You need this to care but also not get yourself hurt or drained. Then you are no good for anyone, least of all him.

Which leads into the second top point from above: Guilt. We have free will and some choices have terrible repercussions. He is suffered the fallout and not resolving this issue earlier. Not a bit of it is your fault and there is no guilt on you if he fails. This was one of the hardest things for me to learn, that I could not stop it, could not make it go away, could not encourage or help enough. No one can but the addict. 

It is not popular here, but, I would appeal to any faith base he has, encouraging faith and hope and that he really is not alone in his own skin with his suffering right now - if he has a faith. If you have one, share it. If not, well, then just stick with the above two good words. Compassion is good. This is not your fault and you are not to blame for any of it.

I am not sure if standing a friend in such a situation is not as hard a road as being addicted in ways. You are welcome to PM me if you need to vent or cry. You are super to care :) 

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and then
Just now, sci-nerd said:

It's the one big shame of my life, but 9 years ago my relationship failed and I was on my own. The shame was not the relationship, but my reaction to it. Alcohol abuse. After one year of pure drinking, almost no food, my body surrendered. I couldn't drink even if I wanted. The hours that followed were like days. It was hell. But slowly I came back.

I was alone during that. It was very scary and confusing. I thought I would die in the early stages. But I made it.

My best advice to someone battling withdrawal is: Eat! Get food! No matter how low your appetite is, eat!

I recall a lesson during rehab by an old-timer.  He said that folks withdrawing from opioids often felt like they were dying but people withdrawing suddenly, cold-turkey from heavy alcohol consumption often DO die because of seizures.  I went through about 48 hours of hell with mine but by the grace of God, I haven't had a desire to take a drink in over 7 years now.  I take each day as a gift and try to live it like it's my last.  Those who've never experienced such things really can't grasp the desperation it brings.  If you survive it though, it also brings growth and peace.

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Not A Rockstar
3 minutes ago, and then said:

I recall a lesson during rehab by an old-timer.  He said that folks withdrawing from opioids often felt like they were dying but people withdrawing suddenly, cold-turkey from heavy alcohol consumption often DO die because of seizures.  I went through about 48 hours of hell with mine but by the grace of God, I haven't had a desire to take a drink in over 7 years now.  I take each day as a gift and try to live it like it's my last.  Those who've never experienced such things really can't grasp the desperation it brings.  If you survive it though, it also brings growth and peace.

I have worked with DT victims, alive and dead, and it truly is a hell that wrings my heart and is not generally understood by those who do not suffer addictions.

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Piney
59 minutes ago, Not Your Huckleberry said:

I need advice.

Been there, done that with 2 close friends and one of my sons' mothers.

I have none. They have to help themselves and if they can't break the cycle on the first try, they are probably not going to. :(

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Not Your Huckleberry
15 minutes ago, and then said:

I recall a lesson during rehab by an old-timer.  He said that folks withdrawing from opioids often felt like they were dying but people withdrawing suddenly, cold-turkey from heavy alcohol consumption often DO die because of seizures.  I went through about 48 hours of hell with mine but by the grace of God, I haven't had a desire to take a drink in over 7 years now.  I take each day as a gift and try to live it like it's my last.  Those who've never experienced such things really can't grasp the desperation it brings.  If you survive it though, it also brings growth and peace.

I guess I'll put it out there...I was an alcoholic suffering manic depression for years. If I wasn't at work or driving, I was drunk. Literally every spare second I had was devoted to drinking myself to death.

Depression is hard to understand for those who haven't been there. If I had to explain it to someone, I would tell them to imagine that you just woke up to learn that your entire family had died in a car wreck the night before. And it's like that every single day you open your eyes. At night, you just lie awake in bed, gripped with paralyzing terror; scared of everything and nothing all at the same time.

So, I gave myself an ultimatum: stop drinking or put a bullet in my head. I'd come mighty close to the latter on several occasions. I quit. I'm very lucky in that I didn't really suffer much withdrawal, though. Thought I'd be one of those types that would have to go to the hospital. 

Year and a half sober. Life is amazing. 

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justin3651

Has he tried n/a meetings? Talking with those who have faced the same struggles will greatly help if he lets it. Many severe addicts slip multiple times in the process of recovery and they can help him understand that it's what you do after a slip that really matters. Cycles of guilt and shame like he's experiencing now make it much harder to get back up. 

 

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susieice
3 hours ago, Not A Rockstar said:

This was one of the hardest things for me to learn, that I could not stop it, could not make it go away, could not encourage or help enough. No one can but the addict. 

That's the gospel truth Rockstar. He has to be the one to make the decision to get help. He has to make the decision to follow through and break the cycle. No one can force him to change or do it for him. My best wishes to your friend Huckleberry. May his decision be a wise one and I hope he finds the person he is at the end.

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joc
4 hours ago, Piney said:

Been there, done that with 2 close friends and one of my sons' mothers.

I have none. They have to help themselves and if they can't break the cycle on the first try, they are probably not going to. :(

Been there done that as well Piney.  Ex wife...now deceased.  Nephew...now deceased.  Once upon a time best friend...now deceased.  

For too many...rock bottom is a 6 foot hole in the ground they can never get out of.   There have been those who have completely gone straight ...but only because they wanted that more than anything else.  Slash of Guns and Roses...Nicki6 of Motley Crue...Eric Clapton...John Lennon.  

The hard truth is...As much as we want to help...there is only one person who has that power...and unfortunately...that person is in the throws of addiction...it is a Hard Sticky Wicket!

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Habitat
9 hours ago, Not Your Huckleberry said:

But Chris had some demons in his past; some he could never reconcile, and maybe never will. I won't go into detail. 

And you know what these past traumas are ? That is the only chance of redemption, coming to grips with whatever happened to him, to need to block it out.

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Not Your Huckleberry
2 hours ago, Habitat said:

And you know what these past traumas are ? That is the only chance of redemption, coming to grips with whatever happened to him, to need to block it out.

I do, unfortunately. Deeply traumatic stuff. The kind of things you don't forgive people for. That's why I said he may never come to terms with it. You see that in so many addicts; seriously, it's a common denominator with probably a good third or more of them. 

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Habitat
1 minute ago, Not Your Huckleberry said:

I do, unfortunately. Deeply traumatic stuff. The kind of things you don't forgive people for. That's why I said he may never come to terms with it. You see that in so many addicts; seriously, it's a common denominator with probably a good third or more of them. 

I suspect most addictions are rooted in traumatic experiences when young. 

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susieice
10 hours ago, joc said:

Been there done that as well Piney.  Ex wife...now deceased.  Nephew...now deceased.  Once upon a time best friend...now deceased.  

For too many...rock bottom is a 6 foot hole in the ground they can never get out of.   There have been those who have completely gone straight ...but only because they wanted that more than anything else.  Slash of Guns and Roses...Nicki6 of Motley Crue...Eric Clapton...John Lennon.  

The hard truth is...As much as we want to help...there is only one person who has that power...and unfortunately...that person is in the throws of addiction...it is a Hard Sticky Wicket!

I had posted in the what are you reading thread that I was reading Keith Richards' book Life. For the 3rd time actually. That man's addiction and arrests are legendary. And he tells it all openly and bluntly. All the cold turkeys and what it's like to let heroin run his life for almost 8 yrs. Him, his long time girlfriend and his friends (which included Clapton and Lennon). Should be required reading if you ask me. It has a surprisingly strong undertone of an anti-drug message although he says often he doesn't feel he has a right to judge and doesn't. He had successfully been off the stuff for 30 yrs when he released the book in 2010.

Edited by susieice
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Not Your Huckleberry

Thanks, everyone. I went looking for him today in the same area again... And found him. I made him make a promise to me that he'd pick himself up one last time. To stop feeling sorry for himself. To grow up. To prove his family wrong that he's nothing but an addict. I'm helping him get into another sober living facility before they fill up during this cold weather. Honestly, I don't really care for the way some of these places operate, but it's better than being out on the street. He'll need to detox first, and I have tomorrow off, so he'd better comply and respect my time if he wants any help from me. A brief stay in the hospital may be in order. 

I'll keep everyone posted. 

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spartan max2
43 minutes ago, Not Your Huckleberry said:

Thanks, everyone. I went looking for him today in the same area again... And found him. I made him make a promise to me that he'd pick himself up one last time. To stop feeling sorry for himself. To grow up. To prove his family wrong that he's nothing but an addict. I'm helping him get into another sober living facility before they fill up during this cold weather. Honestly, I don't really care for the way some of these places operate, but it's better than being out on the street. He'll need to detox first, and I have tomorrow off, so he'd better comply and respect my time if he wants any help from me. A brief stay in the hospital may be in order. 

I'll keep everyone posted. 

Remember be compassionate but firm.

Addicts need supporters, not enablers. 

 

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Not Your Huckleberry

I got a hold of his mother. We sat down and talked about Chris's situation. She wants nothing to do with it. She has custody of his son now (didn't know that) and won't let him see him. She wouldn't even give him a ride anywhere. She's being very tough, but good for her. Maybe not being able to see past his own nose and recognizing how badly he has hurt people who love him will bring him around. Or not. He's acting shy about re-entering a program, but if he doesn't want to, it's on him. Either that or sleep on the street, brother; take your pick. You either get busy with getting on with your life or get busy digging your hole deeper. It's time to take some responsibility for what you've done. The past is the past. It hurts like hell and he's been through things I don't even want to imagine, but now's the time to get on with it. People aren't going to wait on you hand and foot anymore. 

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