Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Addiction: Is It Really Worth It?

Another celebrity died due to a drug overdose this weekend.  Cory Monteith who played the role of Finn Hudson on the popular television series Glee passed away on Saturday.  It was confirmed that he died as the result of a heroin and alcohol overdose.  Cory now joins actors like Heath Ledger, Corey Haim and River Phoenix, who all battled with substance abuse and died as a result of their addiction in their early twenties and thirties.  In recent years we have also seen many well know celebrities tragically succumb to drug addiction.  More recently there were Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and even Michael Jackson (although technically his doctor killed him).

The drugs most frequently found in these reported deaths were cocaine, heroin, alcohol, diazepam, alprazolam, hydrocodone and methamphetamine, to mention but the top 7.  We would be fools to believe that drug addiction is only secluded to poor communities, the homeless and prostitutes on the streets.  We would also be even more ignorant to believe that only the super rich and famous can become addicts.  Addiction affects everybody and chances are that even you have been affected by addiction in one form or another.  So this led me to wonder, why we are so afraid to talk about it.

For many years drug addiction was believed to only be associated with the illegal substances we all are familiar with today.  Alcohol and nicotine addiction are also still common and are also responsible for numerous deaths each year.  But, in recent years new trends developed – people started abusing and getting addicted to prescription and over the counter medication:  The most common being Opioids (painkillers like Oxycontin or Vicodin), Depressants (tranquilizers and sleeping pills like Xanax or Valium) and Stimulants (mood stabilizers like Adderall or Ritalin).  Today people can buy these drugs from their drug dealer right alongside cocaine, crack, heroine, ecstasy and marijuana.  But I don’t want to bore you with a lesson in drugs with this blog post.  I want to share with you my story about being affected by addiction.  I want to tell you about alcoholism.

You cannot always tell if a person is an addict.  It could be the housewife down the street, a colleague at work, a professor at college and even a family member.  My father is an alcoholic and one thing I have learned growing up in a home with him is that addicts can hide their addictions very well.  I also learned that addiction is not something that happens over night (not with alcoholism anyway) and it is a gradual process sliding towards a precipice, and once the addict has slid over it, coming back from it is very difficult if not impossible for some people.  My father’s drinking started when I was about six or seven (or at least that’s when I became aware of it).  It started off with him and my mother having a sundowner after work.  Then it progressed to my father drinking too much at every social function he attended, most times driving us home as drunk as a skunk.  As I grew older his drinking increased resulting in innumerable fights between him and my mother.  Fights I still remember to this day.

My father would come home from work functions drunk, too inebriated to make sense.  Sometimes my mother would lock him out of the house resulting in him once breaking down a door.  None of their fights were particularly pleasant and luckily my father was not the type of alcoholic who got aggressive and physically abused us.  The first time he went to rehab for his addiction was when I was in my late teens.  He came home and drove his car into the gate of our house.  He was too drunk to get out of the car and my boyfriend, at the time, and I had to carry him to the bedroom.  It was embarrassing as hell as the accident drew quite a crowd in our street.  The following day my dad was admitted to a rehab facility.  After a long time being treated physically and receiving therapy he finally came out clean.  Or so we thought.

Addicts are extremely manipulative and they are proficient liars.  For a few years after my father came out of rehab we believed that he was finally clean and that he was a recovering alcoholic, but we were deceived.  As it happens my father never stopped drinking.  He just did it in secret.  After my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and with her passing eight months later, I discovered a journal my mother had kept.  From reading it I learned how bad my father’s drinking really was and how my mother tried to protect my sister and I from the truth about the man my father truly was.  I was shocked but being naïve, my sister and I wanted to believe that my father had changed.  We were in for a rude surprise.  It seems that after my mother died there was nobody left to keep him in check and his addiction got out of control.

After my mother’s passing my father lived with my sister and her husband and he stayed in the garden cottage on their property.  My sister noticed that sometimes at 4am the lights in his cottage would still be on.  During that time my father also got into all kinds of accidents with his car.  Then one day their housekeeper pulled my sister aside and told her about all the whiskey bottles she had to throw away from to garden cottage every week.  Naturally my sister was shocked, upset and felt bitterly disappointed.  So she and her husband decided to collect a week’s worth of discarded bottles (which were many) and prepared for an intervention.  Unfortunately, I could not make it as hubby and I had left for our honeymoon to Egypt.  When we returned my sister informed me that my father had voluntarily admitted himself to a rehabilitation facility.  This was his second stint in rehab.  All was well for a couple months, but again things would turn for the worst.

My father met his new wife a couple months after he came out of rehab.  I met his new wife three times in my life.  Once for breakfast when my father first introduced her to us, then at their wedding and the last time was at a BBQ at my sister’s house.  I cannot really say that I know her well, but soon after they got married she started phoning my sister and I wanting to know why we never warned her that my father had a drinking problem.  Both my sister and I were quite taken aback seeing as we asked my father on numerous occasions if he had told her that he had been to rehab.  He said he had.  But he lied.  Just as he lied when he told us that he had stopped drinking.  I knew that he started again because as hubby and I left my father’s wedding reception the first thing he did was to go to the bar and ordered a whiskey.  His addiction won yet again and he continued to lie about it.

I once also got a frantic call from my father’s new wife saying that he had fallen down the stairs, landed on a vase and had a bad cut on his arm.  I asked her if he was drunk when it happened and she said no.  Later in hospital it was determined that he was.  He got her to lie for him.  I have not seen or spoken to my father in over six years and my sister and I currently have no contact with him.  It is sad to think that my father chose his addiction over his own children and grandchildren.  It is even more distressing to think that from the age of five that I never had a real father as alcohol not only took him away from me but also took him from his family.  My father has also broken off all contact with his own brothers and sister.  So all family he has left is his new wife, her children, alcohol, and as they would like us to believe, Jesus Christ.  Because you know, Jesus made wine out of water so wine is not bad for you.

Addiction ruins lives, destroys families and even kills.  Is it really worth sacrificing everything you have, everyone you love, your dignity and self-respect and in some cases even your life for a drink, a pill, a pipe, a needle or a drug laced joint?  If my husband and I are ever to have children I will do my damnedest to make sure my marriage and child are never exposed to or have to endure the evils of drug abuse.  Having lived through it and experienced it firsthand I know how much pain it causes for those people around the addict.  I know how selfish addicts are, how they lie, manipulate and I know that if they do not really want to get help sending them to rehab will accomplish nothing.  I know this sounds harsh, but this is my experience with addiction and it’s painful and there are always casualties.  If you are reading this today and if you are an addict, I plead with you to take a long hard look at your life and ask yourself – Is this addiction really worth it?  If your answer is No, please save your own life and seek help.  Your life is worth more than what you might think and there are people out there who love you.

Till next time.


Helena Fortissima said...

Thanks for sharing this honest and heartfelt post. Many people don't believe that addiction is actually a "choice," but I think it is. Alcohol and drugs don't put themselves into someone's system; the person who uses them does. This is why your comment at the end about how sad it was that your father chose his addiction over his children and grandchildren really resonated with me. It's a tragic situation, but it sounds that you've handled it as best you could.

nothing profound said...

Just terrible. I've had several friends who grew up with an alcoholic parent. Once one gets "hooked," the drug takes precedence to every other thing in one's life.

PBScott said...

As always a wonderfully written and heartfelt article.

I have lost a few friends and some family over the years to various addictions, it is always so sad because you know they could be so much more, but there just seems to be nothing you can do to help them if they are not wanting to help themselves.

Kellie @ Delightfully Ludicrous said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Pierre le Roux said...

I think addiction is complicated and all of use who are affected by it views it differently. Whether it is your own addiction or that of a loved one or friend. The bottom line is, drugs destroy lives and folks should know what they are letting themselves in for when they start using drugs. More often than not it does not end well.

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