The worst thing about being in recovery is watching your friends suffer with their addiction. It’s a tough place to be. Depending on how strong your recovery is, you can try to help them or sometimes you can’t do anything at all. I don’t recommend people in early recovery to get involved with anybody who is using, thinking they may be able to help or save the person. First of all, nobody can save someone who is battling addiction. You can be there for them, you can work endlessly to help them and direct them to professional help but I believe you, or I, can not ever save another addict. Fortunately though, I feel I’m in a place with my own recovery where I can step up to the plate and make myself available to the sick and suffering.
I have this friend. I’ve known him for years. He is younger then me, but he’s an adult, and he’s such a wonderful person. I dated his aunt for a little while and that’s when we first met but we also spent lots of time in jail together. I can relate with everything he’s going through right now. He is sick and he is detoxing at home- about a week clean from heroin and coke. I made a point to see him on Friday. This is what I saw:
Pulling up to his mothers house, I nearly recognized him while he stood in the gravel driveway, dressed in baggy pants, a Long sleeve shirt, and Jordan’s on his feet. That’s the normal him. Everything else about him was different. Hearing that his arm developed a painful and infected abcess, he wore the long sleeve shirt so he could cover the bandages on the inside of his arms. He was skinny; not that he was ever fat but when he’s clean and doing the right thing he tends to put on weight like I do. But he was so skinny hie kept having to pull his pants up. He had a look in his eyes and it showed me a million emotions all at once. He was hurting. He was sick. He was sweating but was continuously cold. But his eyes cried for help. They showed desperation and sadness. My god did he look sad! He was in the middle of tearing furniture apart for his step father so he could earn an easy $20 but he couldn’t hide how weak his muscles were. I stepped in and helped finish the job for him.
He told me he is depressed. That he was crying just before I showed up. I explained that his endorphins and serotonin levels are at an all-time low without the use of the drugs sky rocketing them infinitely. I told him it will take a while for those levels to rise back to a plateau state were he will feel normal again. I turned the conversation; focusing on what he is planning to do afterwards. He can’t stay at his mothers forever and I felt that too much time with family may push him to a limit of which he will decide using is a good idea. He doesn’t want to enter a program again, like a halfway house or sober house. He believes he just needs to kick the drugs and he will be fine. I decided not to argue this point with him although i disagreed. I did not want him thinking I was pressuring him to do anything. I wanted to keep the presence . of myself standing next to him with open arms and a listening ear. He vented to me me and I explained what I have done with my recovery.
What bothered me the most was this: the way he acted towards his mother. It is not because he was disrespectful or mean like I was towards mine, because he wasn’t at all. But I saw the sudden strength he possessed when arguing with her. I understood both points of view. He could not believe she wouldn’t allow him to leave the house with this girl he knows, who Appearently isn’t someone who’s related to any drug use. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t just go for a ride. His mother, of course, was against the idea, not wanting to take the chance of her sons mind deciding to hop out of the car at a red light and running to so he could get high. He argued his point with me, so I advised him this; he is 5 days clean at the time and he is detoxing at home. The logical thing to do here is invite the girl over to the house. I told him his family will give them privacy. He can spend time with a friend and his mother doesn’t need to drastically worry about him. And so he did take the advice. She came over and that was about the time I had to leave because I had work.
I received texts from different people in his family, all thanking me for coming up and spending time with him. But in fact I didn’t do anything except in courage him to take this slowly, no matter what, and basically not to jump ahead into the first urge or idea his brain has for him. Think things through and most importantly talk to people who want you to stay clean. He has the most incredible family, all of who take time out of their lives for him, whether it be a quick talk or an invitation to see a movie. He has a family who cares and I could tell by the way he talked to me that he is grateful for everything they have done.
Yesterday I saw his status update on Facebook telling the community that he went to a meeting and received a chip for staying sober for a certain amount of time. That put a smile on my face. I only hope it put a smile on his face too.