Addiction is difficult to live through, yet even more difficult to witness. Addiction destroys lives, families, relationships and futures. It turns people with such talent and promise into nothing more than the dregs of society. This mostly applies to those with drug and/or alcohol addictions; however, there are other types of addictions. Some are not seen as seriously as drugs and alcohol but can potentially be just as dangerous. There are people who have addictions to food, candy, cigarettes, sex and adrenaline rushes just to name a few. All are potentially life threatening if taken too far.
I would like to focus on drug and alcohol addictions: drugs and alcohol give us the most extreme and dramatic examples of just what addiction can do to people. Now, unless you have previously been addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, it’s nearly impossibly to fully grasp exactly what it feels like to be held captive by something you know is killing you. Society dismisses alcoholics and drug addicts as mindless junkies but that couldn’t be further from the truth – many are highly intelligent individuals who, when clean, possess the abilities to excel in every aspect of life.
Looking through Perspective
When looking at it from that perspective you have to think, well, don’t they know what they’re doing? The answer is of course they do. Anyone who has been around an addict has heard the speech that they know what they’re doing, they know they need to stop before they kill themselves, and some go as far as to setting dates or a timeline for quitting. Its not that simple: most people lack the mental fortitude to overcome such a powerful addiction on their own and this has nothing to do with their level of intelligence.
Another thing to consider is when an addict is drunk, high or under whatever effect his or her drug of choice may have, how lonely a place that must be. Imagine sitting in a room all alone, crying on the inside because you know you can’t possibly get any lower than this, wanting to change but being incapable of it because on the outside you’re paralyzed by your addiction. That is a level of mental anguish most will never experience and therefore will never be able to comprehend.
What’s worse is…
What is infinitely worse is having someone close to you, someone you love, addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. I keep saying drugs and/or alcohol because more often than not the two go hand-in-hand. Families are so often torn apart by a family member that has an addiction. The feeling of helplessness experienced by mothers, father, sons, daughters and others as they watch a loved one destroy his or her life is physically and mentally sickening.
Imagine being a small child, seeing your mother or father incapacitated by drinking or drugs, not understanding why they’re like that, why your crying garners no response, why your screams fall on deaf ears. Think about being an older child: you come home to a house with an unmistakable smell, the smell of an open liquor bottle, marijuana, or cocaine fills the air. Its suffocating to breath in, and because you’re older you fully understand the severity of the situation yet still seem unable to do anything about it.
Looking into the Eyes
You look into the eyes of your loved one and see nothing – no soul, no passion, no life. All you see is bloodshot eyes with dilated pupils. No longer is there a person in there, merely a living corpse. Withdrawal comes next – many addicts do what they do as a means to escape reality; general unhappiness in life is a powerful force. Its not uncommon for addicts to be incapable of living with their reality, wanting to die, wishing and willing death to come knocking. This is compounded when they verbalize these emotions to loved ones: the inevitable negative reaction to their sentiments will push them to feel even more confined to their unhappiness.
Imagine a mother coming off of a 2-day binge telling her daughter she feels like dying, or a father who spent a week looking for his missing son only to find him in a run down house laying in his own filth saying he can’t deal with this life anymore. This manner of sentimental expression can be among the most visceral a person can offer, knowing this can lead to depression for those being forced to watch and live with someone in this vicious cycle.
For all the aspects surrounding addiction, one thing is for certain and that is if it is not stopped, the consequences are always tragic. Many would say that in the end addictions leave the addict, family and friends with nothing – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction leaves all involved with one thing: death. That’s something you can never be rid of.