Not one addicted person that I’ve ever known, and I’ve known a lot of addicts, has ever consciously and purposefully tried to destroy their relationships with friends, families, partners, their careers, their driving privileges, their home environment situations, or their health.
If those same people could have just one wish, the majority of them would not only wish to be addiction free, they would simultaneously NOT wish an addiction on anyone – addiction is THAT horrid.
Trying to imagine the internal mental universe of an addict is no different than trying to imagine the internal mental universe of someone being attacked by a massive shark. All we know for sure is “OH, FUCK!”
It hurts and it’s scary and sometimes we die.
So why do addicts continue to reach for their drug/s of choice and destroy things?
Here’s an analogy for you: Try not to scratch your mosquito bite – you know – the big one that itches so intensely that you can’t think about anything BUT it. That’s what it’s like trying NOT to drink or use when we want to. It’s the flared-up bite that we’re not supposed to touch, except we don’t get to put soothing anti-itch lotion on it or a band aide. We either use our drug of choice to assuage it or suffer through it until it subsides (and resurfaces later, which it always does until we master it – which is possible, but that’s another blog post). And it’s fucking MADDENING.
I offer this: Do not ever give up on an addict you love. That will mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. But the addict will always know that you didn’t give up on him/her. You could be the one thing – the one person – besides the addict’s own choice to suffer through their cravings because that’s what we have to do to get and stay sober/clean – that saves their life simply because you chose not to give up and not to let go.
Not letting go can also be interpreted many different ways. I remember my dad teaching me how to swim when I was little. He didn’t let go, but he only held on to me by holding on to my big toe. He held on and didn’t let go in a similar way during my active addiction. I wouldn’t still be alive had he let go.