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What an Addict Leaves Behind

depressed person

In today’s modern world full of happy pills, the need for instant gratification and quick fixes, addiction is striking more families than ever. In earlier times addiction was much less prevalent and the existence of an addict within the family unit was a rare occurrence. Sure, there were families with an uncle or cousin that just “couldn’t get right” but they were easily swept under the carpet and kept out of view because having such a family member was a stigma and shameful. There has been a major shift as of recently from where it was few and far between to find an addict in the family tree to innumerable localized support groups all over the country with a hundred families in attendance all whom which have a son, daughter, mother or father who struggles with substance abuse. At one point having an addict in the family was a lonely feeling. When dealing with the sleeplessness nights, arguments, anxiety and heartache families would feel as though no one else out there could possibly understand their struggle and what they’re going through. Back in the day that would probably be an accurate assessment. Currently an estimated 65% of American families are dealing with alcohol and substance abuse.

When a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs it become all about them.

“No one understands me!”

“You just don’t know what I’m going through!”

“Why are you doing this to me?”

An addict, in the midst of their addiction, fails to see how their actions and behavior truly affect those around them. The addict is so consumed with themselves they fail to see their mom having frequent anxiety attacks and their dad starting to get chest pains. The family eventually becomes completely consumed with helping the addict, handling all the crisis situations, trying to fix them and holding out hope for their future recovery.

When family members finally find a rehabilitation program for their loved one a sense of hope returns.

“Maybe he’s going to be okay after all.”

“I hope she gets it this time because we have no money left.”

What a lot of addicts fail to see is how close to death they really were. The family saw it, probably denying the addiction’s severity at first but after the second overdose they finally realized their loved one could potentially die. A drug addict, to some degree, feels completely invincible and immune to death or they are just completely apathetic about whether or not they live. They may have survived through situations where they should have been murdered or killed. Getting robbed, dealers shoving a gun down their throat, driving their car head on into a telephone pole and walking away with only a scratch are just a few examples. Very rarely does an addict consider what would become of their family if they died. Would their parents be able to move on? Would the family ever be the same?

One thing a parent will never get over is the death of their child. Parents spend most of their lives making sure their children are safe and cared for. When addiction takes over the scariest thing to a parent is that something could kill your child and you have absolutely no control over it. All parents can do is to try and help their child, get them therapy, get them rehab, get them help of any kind. Until the unthinkable happens. An overdose takes the life of a once shining star.

I am going to repeat myself. Parents very rarely ever get over the death of their child. Once their child has succumbed to addiction the family unit is forever distorted and torn. When alive the addict never considered what would happen if they died. And it’s worse than they could have imagined.

The family’s grief and despair is immeasurable.

“What could we have done to save him?”

“Why wouldn’t she just listen to us?”

“Were we bad parents?”

Deep depression, mental and emotional torture and sadness is what is felt for years to come. Some families have left their child’s room the same for years after they passed away, unable to move forward and accept that they are gone. Parents torture themselves about what they could have done differently, what they could have not done or changed. The fact remains that a life lost to addiction is unnecessary. Help exists and help is out there. There is no right or wrong way necessarily to deal with addiction. Opinions on the matter vary widely. Help your loved one the best way that works for you and works for them. There is no cookie-cutter method of dealing with addiction. Attaining recovery is individual to the person. What works for one may not work for another. The main idea is to help the person. No family should ever have to endure what thousands of families have; losing a child to the grip of addiction.

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