Walking on the Wild Side

800px-Near-Death-Experience_Illustration public domain

Near Death Experience Illustration public domain

If someone who is close to you is suffering from drug addiction, you know what I’m talking about.  Addiction, as horrible as it is for addicts, can be terrifying to those who love them as well.  Like it or not, if we choose to be in their lives and support them while they fight this cruel affliction, we’re taking a walk on the wild side, going places emotionally and spiritually, and sometimes even physically, that are dark and scary.

And often we’re alone.

Too often when all hell breaks loose, and the dust settles, one lone family member is left standing to walk this scary path alone with their loved one.  Most others get blown away, or turn away, or run away eventually.  But a mom, a dad, a sister, a lover–hopefully for the addict’s sake, one of us remains behind.  One of us stays by their side all the long, and wild, and weary, and heart-breaking way.

I’ve been there, and maybe you have too.

I need someone to talk to, someone who has travelled this road, or is travelling it still, and those Al-Anon groups haven’t worked out for me.  So I’m just going to start talking–right here, right now. To myself at first.  And to you, maybe. Or anyone else out there who would like to keep me company on this long and lonely walk on the wild side.

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48 thoughts on “Walking on the Wild Side

  1. I’ve been there. And may I suggest you try several more different Al-Anon groups. EVERYONE starts off saying they don’t work for them. Then we find one with the people who feel like they know us, and life starts to get pretty good despite the loved one’s addiction.

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    • Thank you for coming here and leaving a comment. I wish I had tried Al-Anon years ago. I think I was always afraid they’d tell me to just give up on him, walk away, refuse to see him or help him. And I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Now I live out in a rural area where it would be hard to get to town, so I’m hoping to find a support group online, and hoping this blog will be part of my “recovery.”

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  2. Congratulations on starting this blog!!! This is Midwestern Mama from Our Young Addicts. Finding other parents to talk to is valuable to your own well being. While I have found benefit from Al-Anon, it also leaves a gap; that’s where blogs, Facebook and Twitter can help. My partner mom — Mid Atlantic Mom — and I met through an online forum. When the forum shut down, we decided to keep in touch and launch Our Young Addicts. We’re a couple of moms creating a community of adults who are concerned and care about the young addicts in their lives. We don’t have answers – just support and resources – because we are living with addiction right now. We welcome you to be part of our community. No of us is along even though it can seem like that at time. Reach out and others will reach back.

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    • Thank you! My son has multiple issues too–maybe they all do. I thought I saw him bottom out so many times, I’m not sure there’s a floor anymore. An endless pit, it seems. But I hope the woman you love makes it. So many do make it. And hearing those stories always gives me hope, no matter what.

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  3. I know of that dark and scary place. Nothing prepares you for that feeling of such hopelessness and helplessness. Do continue to search for a place to find people who have been there. For me it was “Believers in Recovery” It was a place to start. People who knew and shared my feelings and they made me feel safe. I also want to say there is always hope, always. Never give up hope. The addict I love has made it. He is my son.

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  4. Found your blog via another in which I participate. Your post Walking on the Wild Side struck me as that’s where I am, the one person left in our daughter’s life (at least family) who is willing to stick with her as she, hopefully, really gets serious about recovery. We have dealt with her addiction for 15 yrs., & tried to fix it. It didn’t work. She is now in prison, & I am hopeful when she is released she will be serious about her recovery. It’s been a long emotional roller coaster with the addiction (meth but mostly heroin). I/we now understand we can’t fix her addiction. God has helped me through this process, & currently I am at peace & live in hope. That doesn’t mean all will be well with her as she will be released within a couple months. She’s even scared her life could come crashing down. A note: I tried a couple Al- Anon meetings, but prefer cross talk so a Because I Love You (BILY) group had that available I/we (my husband) attended those meetings for awhile.

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    • I’m glad you found my blog. It’s so great to connect with others who are going through the same thing. I hope your daughter will do well when she gets out, as I hope my son will. He always sound upbeat and optimistic while he’s in jail, but gets really nervous when he’s being released. It’s a rough time for both of us then. I’m looking for an online group to work with. My husband is not supportive at all. Thinks we should cut him off completely. Thank you so much for coming here and sharing your story. It helps.

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      • That’s where my husband is at in his attitude. He has not talked with her except once since her initial arrest. He’s done. That’s not my position as I don’t believe that’s God’s view of her., & it’s certainly not mine. I agree with his opinion to not subsidize her financially, but she needs encouragement to make constructive changes in her life & emotional support when she’s ready to make those changes. Over her time in prison she has gone from an attitude of entitlement & making demands to now saying she’s a train wreck. I think she’s softening & scared & needs love & affirmation. And even with love & affirmation it will be tough for her when released. I don’t know how it will all come down. I hope she continues contact with me as at one point recently she told me to let her go as it could get worse. I assured her I could handle anything that comes along. It will be really hard for me if she writes me off out of her life. I’d rather know about her bad choices than not know anything at all.

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        • It’s tragic when a parent disown his child because of addiction. My husband and I get along so well except when it comes to him, which makes the whole thing twice as hard for me, as I’m sure it does for you as well. But they never got along well. I used to blame him, at least partially, for my son’s abuse of drugs, because he was so hurt by the way his father treated him. Eventually I realized that the problem was larger than that. I realized that ever if they had been close, chances are he’d still be using drugs.

          I hope your daughter stays in touch with you as well. Non-knowing can be worse than knowing the worse.

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  5. Deborah, this is a brave and bold move, which I’m sure will bring you the types of support you are seeking. I will be back to visit often. Thank you for starting this. I know that being involved with addicted people, whatever their addiction (because there are so many) is at times lonely, sad and frustrating.

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  6. To Walk on the Wild Side – Your husband’s treatment of your son may have played a part in your son’s drug use. Don’t know. People do all kinds of things to medicate hurt & pain. But I agree it can be bigger than that. I took our daughter to the elementary school DARE program, & she told me yrs. later it made her want to experiment with drugs. She said to me one time. “Why do you think people use drugs? It makes them feel good.”

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    • I’m sure his treatment was a big part of the problem, but I’ve heard of so many kids who have two super-loving parents who nevertheless get caught up in the cycle of drug abuse.

      And yes, I’ve heard my son and others who take heroin say it feels so fantastically good that they can’t imagine anyone not wanting to use it.

      Your story about your daughter and DARE is so important though. We never do know what helps or hurts them. I wonder now if all the times I helped him when my husband said I shouldn’t could have actually had been bad for him. Maybe I should have done it all differently. Funny, that’s what I tell my son sometimes–do the opposite of everything you’ve done in the past and you’ll find your way out of this mess.

      Reminds me of an episode on Seinfield when George, lamenting his life, decided to be the anti-George, do the opposite of everything he normally did, and when he did that, he became a super-hero!

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      • I, like you, now wonder if what we did didn’t really help our daughter. My husband, for most of this journey, was on board with helping her as it appeared she was making progress. We got caught up in making sure her progress moved forward, at least in our eyes. We paid for CNA classes & some college courses. She was working. We even paid for a bankruptcy & subsidized the methadone. She had lots of relationship issues, but I guess we thought she would come through them well. I /we continued to counsel her to help her move forward. We overlooked a relapse, & figured she was really making progress following that. Yrs. later we paid for inpatient treatment to get her completely off methadone, but then relapse came again. After that (last relapse) my husband was done. We quit subsidizing. In hindsight, I wish we would have studied the nature of addiction & how tough it is to stay clean. There were things lurking in her emotions, etc. which caused her to make choices that put herself in jeopardy & it all fell apart.

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        • The only thing I’m sure about is love. To let them know they are loved. And to show that love in what ever way seems best at the moment, even if it’s refusing to help them. Other than that, I’m at a loss to know what is good or right or helpful or not at this point. I’m thinking more and more that this is a journey they have to walk alone. We can shout encouragement from the sidelines, but maybe anything more is too much. Maybe.

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  7. I agree with your post. Don’t know anything more that can be done but continue to love & encourage. It definitely is their journey. If I had the money I would try long-term inpatient drug treatment for our daughter, but even that might not work. I keep praying!

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  8. As a reader of my blog, you know that my Mother was my enabler. I have no DOUBT she loved me,with all her heart and soul. But as an addict, and witness to my story, NOTHING she did or could do would have or did change anything. Addiction affects the whole family. We can only get clean when WE are willing to do that. It’s a soul wrenching disease. Keep doing what you are doing, reaching out and listening. Something will click. I know God is listening. Talk to Him.

    Blessing to All
    Art

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    • Thank you for your post, Art. It put a further understanding on what I’ve learned to some extent but am still learning, that I can’t fix our daughter’s addiction. At times I think I still believe that if we just offer her inpatient rehab, etc. this will be what it takes for her to remain clean. But, I also know she has to be the one to want to make the progress. Your post helped affirm where my thinking needs to be.

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      • I am no expert Lee Ann but I have been where your daughter is. Long term rehab was exactly what I needed however I had reached no choice. As long as this addict had a choice, I was going to use. I hope that helps. Know that your daughter and family are in my prayers always. Keep me updated. 🙂 Blessings

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    • Thank you, Art. I’m pretty sure I’m an enabler too, and I’m pretty sure my actions have saved his life more than once. All I can do is let him know he’s loved, intervene when I think I have to, and let go when I’m able. Your recovery and those of others gives me hope. Keep blogging that hope.

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      • I surely will and thank you for your kind words. I found a website that may benefit both of you. In fact I’m writing about it tomorrow.It’s drugs-forum.com and take a look you might be interested in that.

        Blessings and thanks for reading
        Art

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  9. Wow. Im a bit shocked of how similar what you are sharing here is from what i needed to share. It’s like we are fighting the same battle, but just from a different angle, a different point of vue. But despite this difference, we feel the same way in the end. We are experiencing the same pain and unfortunately, we both know equally what it really means and implies to go through all this. Id love to talk more with you if youd like, maybe i could share with you how i see it from here and you could tell me how hard it is to be on your side. Maybe we could help each other and fight together 🙂
    Blue.

    recoverywithacapitalc.wordpress.com

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      • Sounds good! Im kinda new here so not really sure how we can share emails or infos haha maybe you can show me a couple little tricks haha so i guess ill be waiting for your email, although i have no clue where to wait for it haha
        Also, i dont know if you read my first post (not the post you liked on my home page but the bigger post on my posts page). It could give you a couple initial details on where i come from 🙂 thanks a lot for your response and im looking forward to talk more soon 🙂

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  10. I like what you’re doing here on your blog. Keep up your good work, never lose hope, move forward one day at a time, and grow yourself. The best help to me when I began my recovery 35 years ago was the people around me taking good care of themselves, and being supportive of my recovery. Sounds like you’re doing the right things.

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  11. I’m almost speechless. This is so me. I reblogged it to my blog. Thank you. I’ll be around. You’re amazing. I’m one, like you.

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  12. I remember so well the pain of loving someone with an addiction, and the entire crazy ride – the constant feelings of “helpless and hopeless”, the intense guilt and shame I lived with daily because of HIS addiction and the life I was willing to lead through it all…the day I left with our 2 month old son he went to rehab. His roller coaster didn’t end there, but my part in it did (our son is now almost 19). It took another 9 years before he was able to stay clean, and I am so happy that he has made it through 10 years of sobriety! We have remained close friends, but there were years in there we didn’t speak. During the course of those years, I’ve had to come to terms with my own alcoholism (crept up and took right over for a couple of years) and I’m happy to say, he was and is a huge source of support in my own sobriety. We will always (god willing) be in recovery, but there is hope. Having been on both sides of it myself, I can identify, and as a parent, I am scared to death for my children (all 3 have addiction on both sides of their families). I can only suggest you take it one day at a time, remember to breathe (sometimes I still have to remind myself), and know that you are not alone.

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    • How sad for you and your son! And for your husband, missing out on being with his son as he grew up. I’m happy to learn that he finally came through it alive, and that now he is able to be a support to you in your time of need. Bless all three of you. And thank you for sharing your story. It does help to know that we are not alone and that even after years of suffering, recovery does happen.

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  13. Thank you for your honesty.

    It brings tears to my eyes to read about your experiences firstly for the struggle that you are living and secondly for the knowledge of that struggle as I am also trying to navigate loving someone with an addition. It’s comforting to know that this struggle is shared.

    Thank you again,
    Katie

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