Addiction Doesn't Discriminate: What It's Like To Love A Drug Addict

by Alicia Cook
Mandeville Films

I am not an addict. But if you try to love one, I am positive you will become addicted to trying to fix him.

If you’re lucky, he'll recover. If you’re really lucky, he'll recover and still be there for you.

Loving a drug addict can and will consume your every thought. Watching his physical deterioration and emotional detachment to everything will make you the most exhausted insomniac alive.

You will stand in the doorway of his bedroom, and you will plead you “just want him back.”

If you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes for long enough, you will start to dissolve, too.

Those not directly affected by your loved one's addiction won’t be able to understand why you are so focused on his well-being, especially since he doesn’t seem very concerned with his own.

Don’t become angry with these people. They do not understand, and they are lucky to not understand. You’ll catch yourself wishing you didn’t understand, either.

“What if you had to wake up every day, and wonder if today was the day your loved one was going to die?” will become a popular, not-so-rhetorical question.

Drug addiction has the largest ripple effect I have ever witnessed firsthand.

It causes parents to outlive their children. It causes jail time and homelessness. It causes sisters to mourn their siblings. It causes nieces to never meet their aunts.

You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is that you will lose him far before he actually succumbs to his demons. And if he doesn’t go into recovery, this is inevitable.

Drug addiction causes families to fear a ringing phone or a knock on the door. I read the obituaries in the papers, and I follow the news. It's terrifying.

"Died suddenly" has officially become obituary speak for "another young person was found dead from a drug overdose."

Drug addiction causes bedrooms and social media sites to become memorials. It causes the “yesterdays” to outnumber the “tomorrows.” It causes things like the law, trust and homes to break.

Drug addiction causes statistics to rise and knees to fall, and sometimes, praying seems like the only thing left do.

People have a way of pigeonholing those who suffer from addiction. They call them "trash," "junkies" or "criminals," which is hardly ever the truth.

Addiction is an illness. Addicts have families and aspirations.

You will learn that drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family.

Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are religious. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are a straight-A student or a dropout. Drug addiction doesn’t care what ethnicity you are. Drug addiction will show you one decision and one lapse of judgment can alter the course of an entire life.

Drug addiction doesn’t care.

You will learn to hate the drug but love the addict. You will learn to separate who the person once was with who he is now.

It is not the person who uses, but the addict. It is not the person who steals to support his habit, but the addict. It is not the person who spews obscenities at his family, but the addict. It is not the person who lies, but the addict.

And yet, sadly, it is not the addict who dies, but the person.