Addiction

Addiction.
It’s something I loathe to write about or explain.
It’s so big and so dark it’s mere existence is hard to bear.
It doesn’t seem to matter if you are rich or poor, male or female, black or white.
It’s grip knows no boundaries.
I have watched first hand many, many times as an addiction took someone away.
Addiction by my definition is something someone can no longer live without or with.
They just don’t function anymore.
It’s a slow, brutal process and the road to it is paved with one bad decision after another.
It’s the train wreck you cannot stop or look away from.
I believe people are born this way.
I am not talking about someone who has coffee every morning or a piece of chocolate every afternoon. They say they can’t function without it, it’s actually just a habit.
Bad or not is not for me to judge.
Addiction as I know it possesses someone to the point they lie, they focus on nothing else, they hide it, they will whore themselves for it.
Alcohol, drugs, whatever it may be, it’s all the same drive and desire that cannot be satiated.
When my sister started drinking she was still in high school. She blacked out the very first time and thought everyone did.
She hasn’t stopped for more than six months in the last thirty-five years.
It was confusing at first.
She had her first kid, Linsey, at the age of 20 and when Linsey was three months old, she got pregnant again. Both unplanned to state the obvious.
She was trapped and unhappy and I was thirteen and lived across the street.
I thought going over for margaritas or wine coolers was the most grown up thing I could think of, and I was sort of her cover.
The thought that a child and a pregnant woman would be drinking at all isn’t the shocking part, the shocking part is we saw nothing wrong with it.
When Erich, the second baby was born, he was blue. His cord had been around his neck and he needed to be turned in utero so he also swallowed amniotic fluid.
He had also had a lot of tequila in gestation, I know I was there. He has had problems his entire life.
They moved to Florida not long after he was born and I didn’t see my sister for a couple of years. When I did go to visit there was definitely drinking going on but more of a celebratory kind.
Nothing too much, nothing too scary.
After her third was born, a little girl Whitney, the unraveling began.
It was phone calls that were too loud, too slurred, too late at night-too early in the day.
When we were together for Thanksgiving the next year, we’d step over her.
She was face down on the living room floor, it was early afternoon.
We didn’t have words.
No one said addicted.
We knew it was a problem.
We as a family knew it wasn’t normal.
What do you do?
It began a discussion we are still having today.
It began a cycle of rehabs and AA.
It began a lifetime of watching my sister disappear into a bottle.
One sip at a time becoming less and less of who she was and more and more of someone I didn’t recognize or like.
She became completely untethered.
She has left behind everything she has ever had, even her kids.
She hasn’t seen them in almost twenty years.
My love for her has never faltered.
My love for her is fierce.
My ability to help or affect any change that’s lasting has been my demon to wrestle.
I, nor anyone else can fix her.
It’s between her and God.
No amount of sweaters from the Gap, CD’s from the seventies or showing up for family day at one of the countless rehabilitation homes can make someone not want to drink, go get high or both.
I had a neighbor, when I bought my house in East Atlanta that was addicted to Meth.
I watched him lose two cars, both Mercedes Benz, his friends and then his house.
They police came and literally threw his belongings in the grass.
All Clad pots and pans and a Miele vacuum do not belong on a lawn, ever.
He just couldn’t put down that pipe.
He moved in with his dealer.
I paid for a storage unit for two months. Michael drove the moving van.
I saw him two times after that and never again.
I have always known people that smoke pot.
I know several that smoke it everyday.
I have never understood sitting somewhere, smoking something that makes you stupid.
” Getting stoned” is not something” I get.”
I have known several people who lost their way to cocaine.
They lost jobs, homes, money, lots of money.
I knew a girl once that did so much cocaine she no longer could snort it up her nose.
She used to rub it on her gums mixed with baking powder. She did this so much she ended up having gum surgery to fix the damage and the day the stitches came out, she was at it again.
I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen too much.
I’ve been there myself when life has been tough.
Drink through it.
I was in my twenties, broken hearted, out as much as I could be.
I was in my twenties, happy, out as much as I could be.
In my thirties it could be said the same was true.
What was never true is that I couldn’t stop.
I didn’t drink till I passed out and woke up and started again.
I never binge drank. I never wanted to.
I have ended a bad day with a glass of wine or a bottle.
I have celebrated a good day with a glass of wine or a bottle.
I have had too much to drink. I have had hangovers where I’ll swear to
anyone who’ll listen that I’m never drinking again. But addicted? No.
By the grace of God, I was spared.
It is a monster in the closet. It is the boogeyman under the bed.
It is real and it is scary. It is dark and it is ugly.
It is relentless.
It’s entire intention is to obliterate and it is unwavering in its focus.
Addiction is a cancer that eats its host
Everybody knows somebody in this battle.
The addicted are sick, scared and scarred.
So are the people that love them.

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