By Belle Ogrodowski
You cannot fully understand what addiction feels like unless you have walked down that road —and the same applies for the loved ones of the addicted.
From the addict’s perspective, once we have become addicted to a substance, everything in us wants to get – and to be – sober, but we are bound to our drug as if it’s oxygen. We don’t know how to grasp that sober breath.
The devastating days of dragging our loved ones through the vicious cycle over and repeatedly is unbearable to grasp a sober breath with. And the cycle repeats itself. We don’t want to lie to our loved ones, we don’t want to disappoint our loved ones, we aren’t bad people—we are prisoners to our addiction. We are in survival mode—whatever it takes to get what we need—and that is something most people don’t understand because they don’t really know what addiction feels like.
Addicts break the hearts of their loved ones (who don’t know what addiction feels like) over and over.
And from our loved one’s perspective, it’s the most heartbreaking moment in the world and it feels like it may never end. The empty promises, the “I swear that was the last time, I am going to do it myself and be clean today” (we can’t do it ourselves unless we fully PLUNGE into an intense program) only to find it happening again 16 hours later.
The over and over and over’s. The phone calls from jail and the hospital. The countless “I’m sorry’s.” The lost hope. For some reason families tend to have more hope for the addict than the addict has for their own self. I can tell you, being the addict, I didn’t understand the impact my actions and lifestyle had on my family.
I knew I put them through pain—the endless tears and excessive begging from my mother was the most painful thing. Hurting her, witnessing her cry hysterically, telling me that she hates me and that I ruined our relationship. And their pain comes from both loving us, but also not really knowing what addiction feels like. But nevertheless, I persisted…and not in the good way.
I think that the pain our the loved ones feel is far worse than the pain we feel. We then drown our pain in a bottle of alcohol, blacking out those horrific moments. But they don’t, they can’t. They feel them to their deepest core— they live through them every moment, they go to work with no sleep, and they try and pretend they are okay. They are not. Their fear is that you may not wake up the next morning and that an unanswered phone call could mean they’ve lost you forever… it’s crippling.
They have to show up for work and TRY and put a smile on their face until that one moment when someone asks if they’re okay…. And they completely lose it—breaking down into a million little pieces. They are not okay…just as we (the addict) are not okay, either.
But recovery is possible for both parties. We don’t have to live this way anymore. Putting your foot down is one of the hardest things that you’ll ever have to do with the addict in your life.
But you owe it to yourself and your loved one to stop living with the chaos. We (the addicts) won’t go to treatment unless it gets bad enough—rock bottom, and our loved ones never want it to get to that point. So with all of your love (and while it may seem so scary because you can’t imagine what the outcome with be) put your foot down, look the addict in the eye and say:
“I love you, and will miss you, but I am ready to have you back….You need help, I arranged treatment for you.”