Unfortunately, loving an addict is a topic I'm all too familiar with. I've seen drugs destroy the most unscathed and innocent of all entities: family and friendship. Loving someone who loves a drug more than he or she seems to love you is not only damaging, but it's also painful.
Here are the reasons why:
1. You're always going to feel guilty.
You're always going to feel like there's something more you should've done. What if there was something else you could've said? One more word that would've made it all click?
But the truth is, sometimes there isn't anything you can say or do. If someone becomes entangled in that lifestyle, the person will not find logic or rational thoughts in a toxic euphoria.
2. You're always going to feel let down.
The worst parts are the moments of clarity, the moments when someone you love comes down off a high and seems like his or her old self again. At that point, you might plead with the person to get help. You might offer everything you have — time, money, energy — until the next high takes this person away from you again.
You'll feel yourself hitting rock bottom with the person every damn time. There's no way to prepare for this, and there's no way to cushion the blow.
3. You might not always understand it.
If there's one thing I've learned from loving an addict, it's that I cannot fathom what substance could make you essentially abandon your life for another one. It's one that keeps you caged from reality, one that forces you to float through life in a fog, never truly feeling, seeing or participating in anything around you.
Drugs keep people in a tiny and dark day-to-day life. Any and all relationships become surface-level at best. No amount of success, contact with another human or even art could extract the same high an addict gets from his or her drug of choice.
I can't understand why anyone would want to watch his or her life from a secluded sideline. I've tried my best to make peace with the fact that it is a disease, but the brutal truth is, I will never truly understand what it feels like.
4. You'll always wonder who the person might've been.
I often find myself asking, “What if?” What if this loved one was truly present at this family function? Would he or she have laughed at this joke? Would he or she have had a different perspective to add to this conversation? What if this person actually participated in his or her own life? How different would things be if the person was able to break free from this disease?
I try to abandon this way of thinking, as it is as effective as trying to solve a puzzle with your eyes closed, but sometimes, my mind wanders. And that's one of the most heart-rending parts of the entire experience because I know this individual had potential. I know this person's predestined mark on this world was supposed to be something of epic proportions. But instead, I'm left with a ton of "could've been" moments.
I'm not trying to detract from the fact that addiction is a very serious illness. It is something that can only truly be understood by professionals, those who have conquered it and perhaps, in a sense, those who are going through it.
However, there are two sides to every story, and being on the side where your heart aches for a loved one's quality of life is truly a battle. It's one of the most helpless, mind-altering and heart-rending positions to be in.
That doesn't mean you give up. If you love an addict, you don't give up on the person. You just have to help this person not sleepwalk through life and hope like hell that at some point, he or she finds the strength to wake up.