My best friend is a drug addict.
Addiction has left no one untouched by it. You either deal with it personally or know someone who is. The most common and easiest thing to do is criticize or ignore the problem. It has such a stigma around it and causes so much damage, people give up on addicts almost easily. Between that and the ease of acquirement, it’s no wonder addiction is so prevalent.
TL and I have been best friends since the first day of kindergarten, we are now in our thirties. Most of my memories of growing up involve him. We lost two of our friends in our twenties and it hit him hard. He had a back injury from work, and the pain pills helped with more than one kind of pain.
I knew something was wrong when he stopped talking to me, he actually started avoiding me. He knew I would be able to tell there was a problem, and he wasn’t ready to accept that. The addiction grew, and so did his feelings of worthlessness. A downward spiral was soon to follow with arrests, broken relationships, and a lot of pain. Rehab was tried and failed more than once.
A lot of his friends walked away. Most of the ones that stayed, needed to go, they were part of the problem. I refused to give up on my best friend. I had invested twenty-five years of friendship in him, and I wasn’t going down without a fight. I called or texted him everyday knowing I wouldn’t get a response. Once you get your butt chewed out by me once, you really don’t want it to happen again, so he avoided me.
I knew where he lived.
It wasn’t about driving him crazy, and giving him grief for having a problem, it was about making sure he knew that I was still here. I was going to be here for him, waiting impatiently for when he was ready to talk, whether he liked it or not.
He went to another rehab, lied to me about making it through the program (he was asked to leave), and was still using even though he was able to convince me otherwise for a few weeks. I don’t take the lies personally. That’s what addicts do. It was never about making him feel bad for anything that happened, it was always about making sure he knew he was valued, loved, and accepted. He thought enough horrible things about himself, he didn’t need me lecturing him, he needed hope.
It didn’t work.
A few months later, he was arrested and sentenced to almost a year in jail.
I was actually happy.
I didn’t have to worry about where he was, or getting that phone call that no one wants at 2 am because the police found a body. I knew he was safe. I knew he needed this to show him the consequences of his actions.
He was involved in a rehabilitation program while he was detained. I wrote him once a week, reminding him that he still had people who cared about him, no matter how much I wanted to slap him. When he was released, I could finally see that little glimmer back in his eyes. He found hope, and self belief.
He’s the best he’s been in a long time, he’s working, staying out of trouble, and working on himself. I’m so proud of all of the hard work he’s accomplished, and he continues to make progress. This isn’t the end of his story, he may back slide, he may not. I hope one day he is able to mentor other people struggling with addiction and show them that it’s only one part of their story, not their defining moment.
My best friend will always be an addict, and he will always be stuck with me cheering him on from the sidelines.
Addictions are ugly, destructive, chaotic. Wouldn’t you want someone standing by you with a rope if you fell down into that well of despair?
Just give it a thought the next time you think about giving up on someone with an addiction. Maybe you are that one thing they need to bring them back.