Confronting Addiction In Family and Friends
Maybe you are reading this section because someone you
love or who is close to you is struggling with an addiction. Only you will
appreciate the pain that person has put you through, as you have maybe watched
them destroying themselves, you, your relationship or all three. Having to watch
someone is the hardest thing but what else can you do? You have probably tired
bribery, manipulation, shouting at them and any other form of control but did
any of them work? Probably not. The addiction is a part of that person and only
they have the power to let it go. They might do it for you but if they are not
doing it for themselves this can be a shallow promise. Though I am a Christian
and make no secret - in all honesty the only worthwhile thing you can do is pray
for the individual. The next thing you can do is what you have already done –
ask for help. We are here to help and only an email away – we will try to
respond as soon as we can- helping ourselves or putting you in touch with
someone who can.
What follows are extracts of the testimonies from two women and their personal
struggles with substance misuse – not their own but someone else’s. Both of
these articles were presented in a journal (see below) and are used by
permission. They are honest and painful. No other introduction is needed.
Moira: “Where did I put them? Everyone misplaces things from time to
time, but for the wife husband, parent or partner of an alcoholic or drug addict
‘misplacing’ possessions is a daily occurrence when the addict is using. We hide
the keys to the car to prevent them from driving while intoxicated, crashing the
car, getting arrested, harming themselves or God forbid, harming others. We hide
the credit cards to prevent them running up huge debts on impulsive purchases,
buying more of their substance or gambling. We hide the pills that the doctor
prescribed for our own stress and inability to sleep, to prevent them from easy
access to a means of killing themselves because they feel so wretched and guilty
for their using. ‘Where did I put them?’
We the partners, try to carry on with our lives as though
things are normal, when the life we are leading is so far from normality. We
live in fear, fear of their relapse. We watch their behaviour for telltale
signs; we look at their eyes; we search all the hiding spots; we get anxious
when they go out and are delayed for any reason. And then it happens.
The relapse and the chaos that ensue turn our world upside
down, and permeate every aspect of our lives. We try to continue to keep
everything going as the world expects to see it, but the word sees us as we are.
We appear forgetful, scattered and inept to everyone around us. Who wouldn’t be,
when you live with and love someone who is actively destroying the life that you
had both planned and worked so hard for?
The world sees us as distracted, anxious and even sometimes
incompetent. We may even be accused of using ourselves, because our behaviour in
trying to handle the addict mimics that of a using addict. We become isolated
from our friends and family because we fear their condemnation of the person we
love and of ourselves. They ask why we stay. The answer to that is simple.
Addiction is a disease. We wouldn’t leave if they were suffering from another
mental illness like schizophrenia. We would pray that they take their tablets
each day. With addiction, we pray that they don’t take their substance any day.”
Christine: “I wish I could remember the day that I
realised that my life had become unmanageable. Was it the day when it took
another person to make me realise that in trying to suffocate me, my husband had
not only committed what would be considered in law a serious assault, but that
my life could actually be in danger?
Perhaps it was when I checked the mileage on my car and discovered that in seven
months I had travelled over 15,000 miles, visiting hospitals, taking him to
appointments, attending therapy sessions or just moving all his belongings back
home. That I only felt safe and secure in my car with my music blaring. That
when driving home I wanted the road to go on forever.
Maybe it was when I admitted that all I could manage in a day was to get up and
hope to get to the end of it without another drama, crisis or trauma occurring.
It certainly wasn’t the time when I had to inform the police that my husband,
who having taken his own discharge from hospital in a very distressed and
sedated condition, was now hiding behind a block of flats, indulging in self
harm by taking a razor blade to his arms, slicing them like pieces of raw meat.
Nor was it the evening when he relapsed and drank two bottles of cheap whisky in
a field, cutting his arms and being picked up by the police. Seeing him in A&E,
this horrible goblin like creature uttering hurtful and obscene comments at me
and then falling asleep on the floor covered in mud, blood and vomit. And me
thinking ‘it was only two,’ but it wasn’t only two drinks or even doubles, but
It wasn’t when I had to take yet more sick leave from work, or when I looked at
my payslips saw ever-decreasing amounts of take home pay, or our dwindling
savings that had been for our future.
It certainly wasn’t the evening that he stood at the bottom of the stairs,
holding a knife across his wrist and daring me to tell him to cut.
It wasn’t even a single moment or a combination of events over the Christmas and
New Year period when I told him that if he messed me about one more time that
that would be the end of our marriage and yet within two hours he had smashed up
a room, slashed his arms and made another verbal and physical assault against
No, it was the morning in early January when I woke up and told him I wanted a
divorce. From the moment I said those few words I felt a great weight lift off
my shoulders and a deep blackness leave me………….
………From the moment I admitted I was powerless over his addiction, that I hadn’t
caused it and couldn’t control or cure it, my instinct for self-preservation and
survival took over. Each day I grew stronger with an inner happiness and
contentment that depended on no others’ emotions or moods but my own. I got ‘my
I hope they have encouraged you and if at some point you would like us to share
your personal testimony with others we would be happy to publish it on this page
to further encourage others.
God Bless you.