Loved Ones Can Help in the Battle Against Addiction
Fighting addiction is challenging for everybody concerned, not just the individual with the chemical dependency. Jim Sullivan has been that individual, and he shares his story in a recent article for Boston Herald, telling of the depths of his addiction and his recovery. The article was intended as something of a personal thank you to the loved one who helped him through his addiction, but the message it sends is one that can help anybody going through similar issues, and has some useful—if indirect—tips for family members of people struggling with addiction.
For four years, Jim spent every penny he earned on “white powder.” The powder was cocaine, and he opens by saying that he found it fun … at first. But it wasn’t long before he realized the drug was controlling him. He’d get the shakes when he stopped taking it, and found himself unable to think about anything other than scoring another hit. No matter how shady the dealer or how uncertain the quality of what he was buying, he’d do it in a heartbeat. After hitting up friends of friends and anybody who might know where he could get some cocaine, he ended up with a batch cut with bad amphetamines. He explains that, “my nose bled and I felt like my heart might burst through my chest. You know what? I was OK with that. It was better than not being high at all.”
It wasn’t long before his life started falling apart. He lost his job, and without savings or a source of income, turned to his friends looking for a loan. But they didn’t give it to him. It wasn’t until afterward that he realized they were trying to help him; at the time he was too occupied with what he saw as his only two options: stop using or start stealing. His moral code was too firm for the latter and he resolved to get clean. Now, he’s 24 years’ sober, and he attributes his success in part to his father’s support.
Jim’s Father’s Role in His Recovery
Jim’s dad knew that he had a problem, and when Jim tried to sober up, his dad supported him. He gave him a place to stay, three meals a day, and—possibly most importantly—anything he could to keep Jim’s mind occupied. “It wasn’t easy,” according to Jim, “but he made it easier.”
Although understated in Jim’s article, his father obviously had a huge role to play in his recovery. How he handled the situation is commendable: he recognized his son’s desire to get healthy and gave him all of the support he needed despite how painful an experience it must have been for him, too. A bed and regular meals handled the physical requirements, but his understanding of the need for something to keep Jim’s mind busy is something most people wouldn’t think of. Jim may have had additional help—he met his wife-to-be just after getting sober—but his dad was clearly instrumental in his recovery.
Helping Somebody Through Addiction Recovery, and Being Helped
Seeing somebody you know go through addiction is never easy, but staying supportive and helping in any way you can is important. Jim’s father stepped in when his son expressed a desire to get clean, and offered everything he could to help him out. Although not mentioned in the article, it’s vital that you get support too if somebody you love is struggling with addiction — it affects everybody and there’s a risk of you taking too much responsibility on your shoulders and becoming stressed or depressed. As Al Anon’s three Cs remind you: you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Be helpful, but never feel responsible.
If you’re the one struggling with addiction, Jim’s advice is poignant and to the point: “Your situation isn’t mine; I know that. Every hell is personal. But you have people who love you, too. I’m one of them. And while you’re going through your hell, please know there are hands to help pull you through. If you need one, grab it. We won’t let go.”