December 30, 2005

Happy New Year, Let's Get Wasted

I don't mean to be a huge fun-killer, but I thought maybe some of you might be interested in some of the recent discussions on addicts and addiction over at Hog on Ice.

How Addicts Spread Joy at Christmas

Book Report

ManCamp Again Already (Did I really just type "ManCamp" on my weblog? Shit, I think I did.)

The Smoker is Still King

Keep in mind: Some of these posts don't get around to the addiction stuff until after the important stuff, like food, has been reported on. If you think I'm being sarcastic about the food being important, you probably only just found this blog today. I am not being sarcastic. Food is very important.

You might like these posts. I should emphasize "might." Chances are, if you are or were an addict, you're not going to enjoy them so much. That's because they're written by and for people who've had to put up with addicts and, well, those people aren't always too sympathetic to the struggles of the addicted.

Is that because they're hardhearted judgmental assholes? Sometimes it is; most of the time, it isn't. Most of the time, it's because they've had their sympathy exhausted by all the crap that goes with having an addict in your life--the late-night phone calls from jails and hospitals, the stealing, the lying, the lending-and-borrowing-and-getting-stiffed . . . having an addict around is like trying to live your life in the middle of a blender set permanently to "Whip." Good luck getting your bearings in that environment.

"But the addict didn't do all those bad things! His disease did them." Fine, I don't disagree; but what do you see when you look at an addict? What do your eyes tell your brain? What impression registers?

Here's what you don't see: You don't see a big black curtain labeled "opiate addiction." You don't see bilious gas forming the word "alcholism." You see a person. If the person you see does not want to get well--and can we be honest? Some addicts DON'T want to get well--it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the disease and its victim.

Your eyes don't see a disease. Your eyes see a person. When you bail someone out of jail for posession, you don't see it as bailing out a disease, even though, in a way, that's just what you're doing. You see it as bailing out a human being--a human being who woke you from a sound sleep, agitated you beyond belief, and cost you money to boot.

That is a damn difficult thing to get past and forgive, especially when it happens over and over again. And bad behavior by persons in the grip of addiction is definitely something that happens over and over again, as many times as they can get away with it, until they've sucked you dry and have to find someone fresh to leech off of.

So these aren't posts designed to make the addicted feel better. I'm sorry--no, wait. I'm not sorry. Drug addicts already have a wealth of resources available to make them feel better, to help get them well. Yet I can't tell you how many times I've transcribed reports on addicts who flat-out tell the doctor that no, they're fine, thanks, not really interested in pursuing rehabilitation at this time.

The doctor shoves a bunch of pamphlets and brochures into the addict's hands anyway, because he has to. It's his job.

But it's not MY job. My job is to be happy and productive in spite of addicts, alcoholics, and other troubled, dependent people. My job is not to get down in the muck with them, because that accomplishes nothing and helps no one--including, and perhaps especially, the addict.

New Year's Eve can be a time of pain and anguish for people with addicted loved ones. Instead of a time to tip back a glass or two of champagne and enjoy the company of friends and family, it's a time to eye the telephone warily: Please don't ring, please don't be my sister/cousin/father-in-law calling from the emergency room/jail/the dealer's. It's a time to jump at every knock on the door: Oh no, please don't be Barney/Thelma/Pedro/Ana, quick, hide the booze, hide the silver, hide my purse, hide my wallet, hide ME.

It's people tormented by the addicted who might enjoy these posts. And you know something? You should enjoy them.

You're not the problem. You deserve a happy New Year and a happy life.

Posted by Ilyka at December 30, 2005 05:54 PM in hell is other people